What makes a great customer experience? At its very core, it’s a single outstanding interchange between a customer and a representative that not only accomplishes the customer’s goal, but leaves a positive impression in his or her mind…a favorable disposition toward the company and its products or services. Because it’s such an abstract concept – you can’t buy “great customer experiences” software – it can be elusive to attain. There are a variety of ways to get there, and these methods are continually changing.
According to Aspect’s Chris O’Brien in a recent blog post, while the elements that create a superior customer experience may not change much over time, the ways that those conditions are met certainly have.
“The reason there has been a shift in the delivery of exceptional customer service is because the modern consumer is very different from preceding generations,” she wrote. “The modern consumer is more informed, more discerning and, perhaps most importantly, more connected than ever before.”
In other words, more than three quarters of us have smartphones, and we’re not afraid to use them. We use them to comparison shop, look up prices and shipping information, read reviews, ask for advice on social media, request recommendations, look at photos and even watch product or service demonstrations on YouTube. Smartphones have fundamentally changed how customers expect to receive service.
“Consumers continue to express growing interest in mobile-friendly customer service channels like text, chat and messaging applications,” wrote O’Brien. “According to the ‘2016 Aspect Consumer Experience Index Survey,’ nearly half of consumers reported that they would rather conduct all customer service interactions via text, chat, or messaging service.”
Customer mobility, therefore, has powerful implications for companies designing customer experiences (and the contact center solutions to support them) for 2017.
It must be omnichannel. Customers like to jump from channel to channel. According to O’Brien, 88 percent of consumers expect a natural transition between automated self-service and agent-assisted service that keeps the context of their interactions to avoid having to repeat themselves.
Self-service doesn’t mean yesterday’s IVR. Customers like self-service, but they like self-service that is suited to their mobile phones. (And that’s NOT a “press one” or “press two” audio IVR tree.) Technologies such as chatbots, or chat-based virtual assistants, are a much better option for the smartphone.
“Leveraging chatbots will enable your organization to resolve basic inquiries more quickly, giving your agents more bandwidth to handle consumers with complex requests,” wrote O’Brien.
Be proactive. Chances are that you know information vital to your customers before they do. A shipment may be delayed. A balance may be getting low. A payment may be due on a Sunday instead of a Monday. Whatever the issue, reaching out to customers before they get an unpleasant surprise is a move customers will appreciate.
“Get ahead of issues, or delight consumers with an unexpected surprise, by reaching out proactively to provide customized information that may be critical for them,” wrote O’Brien.
It’s time to stop looking at smartphones and mobility in general as a small part of the customer experience equation. For many customers, it’s the primary stage on which the customer experience plays out.