The customer experience industry is changing at an unprecedented pace. Here at Echo-U we’ve looked at the major trends shaping customer services to help you understand some of the challenges companies are facing and seize opportunities to enhance your own customers’ experience.
1. Yep you’ve guessed it, Brexit is driving consolidation in our industry too
In our recent conversations with industry leading companies we’re hearing that many of them with a European presence are reviewing the impacts of Brexit and their profitability post 2020. As a result they are planning a more efficient consumer experience by consolidating their channels and service centres to a single ‘multi-lingual’ operation that provides a ‘follow the sun’ service. Such foresight enables a more enhanced customer journey, reduced costs, improved efficiencies and far better consumer insight. Here at Echo-U we have seen a significant uplift in enquiries about working through the night and multi-lingual advisors for both existing and new clients and expect that trend to continue as consumers expect more round the clock access to their favourite brands.
In addition, because of the uncertainties that Brexit brings, there is a huge gap between those companies that have confidence in their industry and are continuing to invest in the customer service experience and those who don’t – the gap between the leaders and laggards is widening – with leaders increasingly investing in technology and culture to drive the customer service experience and laggards choosing to stand still. We foresee that Brexit will only continue to fuel this gap between them.
The challenge for our industry is the cost of investment in constantly improving technology and future proofing our businesses.
2. The future’s not all about chatbots, we need to blend our technology and teams for best effect
Last year’s hot topic was Artificial intelligence / digital self serve and the advantages digitisation can offer our customer service provision. Digitisation allows us to reduce our costs whilst growing our services and is critical to remaining competitive.
Looking ahead we believe there will be a shift not just to digital self serve / digitisation, but a hybrid workforce, one that combines both our existing customer service advisors with digital solutions. In this scenario contact centres will be able to combine the strengths of their teams and digital solutions whilst using them to compensate for their respective weaknesses.
At Echo-U, our customer service advisors like and and engage best with “intuitive” and “flowing” technologies. Our clients’ businesses have a need to serve their consumers very well and very quickly. Today’s consumer community is impatient and does not want to wait. Therefore the trend and opportunity will be for technology to support swift, effective processes to ensure the most efficient interaction times. This will then free up the advisor to serve the next consumer or concentrate on more complex enquiries.
The 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report reveals that many businesses are facing an ‘uncomfortable truth’ when it comes to the digital transformation of their customer experience. While the overwhelming majority (89%) of organisations claim that this is critical to their survival, over half (51%) are failing to act.
Outsourcing your customer experience provision can offer a cost effective and cutting edge solution without the on-going investment in strategy, people, technology and premises.
3. Open all hours (and all channels!)
Today, businesses are supporting an average of nine customer contact channels to deliver a multichannel experience. We expect that to rise to 11 in the next six months or so. It’s therefore not surprising that delivering a seamless customer experience across all of these channels is an ongoing struggle for most organisations.
Providing a seamless customer experience means organisations must be able to react to communication that doesn’t fit into their traditional contact centre model. When adopting a mobile first strategy, businesses also need to consider whether their networks can support an increase in this kind of traffic. These channels need reliable and highly secure network connections, rapid response times and be available beyond the traditional ‘opening hours’.
4. Show me you know me
We predict that increased use of wireless beacon technology will enable businesses to take customer experience to new heights in 2018. It’s already being used in the retail sector and allows stores to track customers in real-time, and then push timely, personalised messages and content to them.
Gone are the days of “one size fits all” marketing. There is a need to now focus our attention on the buying habits and behaviours of the individual. Customers invest a lot of time and money in their buying decisions and want to know they are valued – knowing who and where your customer is, what timezone they’re in, what preferences they have, what channels they like to use, can drive greater customer engagement and help create more targeted marketing campaigns. Going forward it’s all about “show me you know me”.
5. Keep it simple
We know that today’s customers expect superior service, a plethora of channels, to choose when they help themselves and when they speak to an advisor, oh and 24/7 service! But what happens when they can’t get an answer…?
One of the top three customer service challenges today is when customers expend moderate-high effort to resolve an issue. This can take on many forms: a customer not being able to find the information they need online, being passed around on the phone between numerous advisors, a lack of response from web chat or email enquiries. So what may have begun as a simple enquiry can soon develop into frustration and even escalate into a complaint from the customer.
Taking time to examine the customer journey, to experience it through the customers’ eyes, is a valuable process. At Echo-U we’re increasingly reporting on how to better design customer journeys’. This enables us to refine the points at which our technology and teams interact with the consumer to ensure it’s as seamless and simple for our customers.
We hope that you’ve found our 2018 Industry Predictions useful. If you’d like a more in-depth conversation regarding what’s shaping our industry or the customer service challenges and opportunities you face don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Customer Services Director – 07803 408771