Consumer expectations for customer service and the contact center are evolving — here’s what teams need to do to meet today’s customer service expectations.
From the self-service support channels your company offers to how your agents in the contact center interact with customers, a range of factors shape customer service.
Today’s discerning customers know what they want across touchpoints in the customer journey, and failing to meet their standards signals trouble for customer satisfaction (CSAT), retention, and referrals. Of course, all of this also means revenue takes a hit. It’s why the key to success for a business in any industry is prioritizing customer experience (CX) and delighting customers during every interaction.
In the contact center, customer service is the name of the game. Good customer service reminds a customer why they considered your brand in the first place, but bad customer service sends an angry customer straight to the competition.
Of course, you can’t guess what customer service expectations are. But the good news is this: Research uncovers the customer service trends that contact center leaders are relying on to guide their strategies. And by understanding the trends in customer service, you’re prepared to take on customer expectations with ease.
A recent survey of 1,047 consumers revealed what consumers want when it comes to interacting with customer service teams, and insights from the data reveal strategies to adapt customer service and deliver the level of service customers expect from top brands.
Here are the tips you need to meet customer service expectations and make your contact center unstoppable when it comes to making customers happy.
About a third of all customers say the first place they turn to when experiencing a problem with a product or service is self-service channels, like the frequently asked questions (FAQs) section of a company’s website. But at the same time, the majority of consumers say they’re only willing to spend a maximum of 10 minutes or less on a brand’s website looking for answers or a solution before taking another action.
As a result, businesses are under increasing pressure to make self-service options, such as FAQs, video tutorials, and automated chatbots not only easier to find and interact with but more comprehensive, covering all of the topics customers want information about.
That’s why improving digital experiences is key to exceeding customer service expectations. Using digital experience analytics and technologies, such as heatmaps, frustration scores, and form experience scores, can help your team identify points of friction in the digital experience and unlock insights about how to streamline the digital customer journey, enabling customers to find the information they’re looking for faster.
Another tactic companies are using to find out how to bolster digital experience (DX) and minimize the amount of time customers have to spend on a brand’s website is using artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech analytics to transcribe and analyze contact center conversations to pinpoint breakdowns in the digital experience.
In addition, text analytics can be used to transcribe contact center live chat conversations, support emails, and social media conversations to further shed light on digital experience issues that need to be resolved, enabling companies to make things easier for future customer interactions.
Just as customers don’t want to have to spend a lot of time searching a brand’s website for answers, they aren’t willing to wait on hold for a long time for a customer service agent to become available. In fact, most consumers say they’re only willing to wait up to five minutes.
If you find your customers are having to wait for five minutes or longer, it may be time to consider using an automated intelligent callback technology to give customers the option to schedule a callback at a time that works for their schedule, rather than having to keep waiting on hold, minimizing customer frustration and the pressure on the contact center. This is something that most consumers (66%) say they would take advantage of if given the choice.
Consumers value interacting with human agents, not bots. It’s particularly true among Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, who are less likely to find chatbots and automated voice assistants to be helpful.
More than simply interacting with human agents, customers want to interact with people who understand what they’re going through. Across the board, nearly all consumers (87%) say that it’s important for contact center agents to demonstrate empathy.
Real-time, cross-channel CX insights are key to keeping agents informed so they can do their best work and communicate with empathy.
For instance, some companies analyze contact center call logs, emails, and live chat transcripts as well as social media interactions and other customer signals to get to the bottom of why customers are contacting customer service in the first place, address root-cause issues, and keep agents informed.
Another important approach is capturing agent-level customer feedback after every customer interaction — whether following a customer call, live chat session, or email exchange — to give employees immediate insights into how customers are rating their performance and what they can do to step things up during future interactions. This data can also be used to revamp agent scripts to address topics of concern based on specific customer feedback and to tailor training sessions to focus on areas in which each individual employee has room for improvement.
Most consumers (about 80%) want contact center agents to know about their customer service interaction histories and their previous transaction histories. Even more (95%) say it’s important that agents take the time to understand why they’re contacting customer service and offer personalization to meet their needs.
Meeting these expectations requires building out a single source of truth for each individual customer, creating a uniform profile that everyone across the organization can access that contains information about a customer’s entire history from across touchpoints and interactions.
Brands may, for example, leverage a user’s digital browsing history to inform agents about the types of products the customer is looking for and may want more information about to tailor the agent’s script when the customer calls in with a question.
Achieving this complete customer view is critical to being able to offer the kinds of personalized experiences and interactions customers crave.
Nearly three-fourths of customers say they want to share feedback about their experiences immediately after interacting with customer service, either via online reviews (#1 choice), email (#2 choice), and text message (#3 choice).
That’s why companies are prioritizing launching real-time customer surveys that ask customers to rate their experience in the moment over sending out generic customer satisfaction surveys on a less frequent basis.
Embedding these feedback capture mechanisms across touchpoints, and giving customers the option to fill out surveys or submit a quick video about their experience, is an effective way to reduce barriers to participation and ensure more voices are heard.
Long gone are the days of single-channel customer support. Consumers want to interact with customer service via their preferred channels and those preferences vary greatly among age groups, with Baby Boomers more likely to prefer talking to a representative in person while Gen Zers and Millennials are more likely to prefer using online or mobile chat.
For brands that serve a wide range of customers across age groups and demographics, one of the best ways to optimize the experience is to offer support via each key segment’s preferred channels.
High-quality customer service experiences have the power to strengthen customer loyalty and retention. Especially when you consider the fact that 52% of consumers say that negative customer service experiences impact their willingness to recommend brands and 66% say that poor experiences motivate them to consider competing companies.
Research has found that high-performing teams that invest in customer service are more likely to drive revenue and meet their financial targets, demonstrating the ultimate return on investment (ROI) of meeting and exceeding customer service expectations.