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Hold no longer: Creating a seamless customer experience

(Image credit: Image Credit: M247)

Great customer service is the key element in providing a positive brand experience. Higher customer satisfaction, improved loyalty, increased spending, and a greater willingness to recommend a brand, among other positive metrics, can launch a business from being relatively unknown to one that consumers would recommend time and time again. The correlation between customer experience and future purchases is considerably high, with recent research showing that more than half (54 percent) of consumers would recommend somewhere if they had a “very good” customer experience as opposed to a “very poor” one. Getting this right can do wonders for a business.

But brands still struggle to provide a seamless customer experience, and often fall at the first hurdle when a customer calls. We’re all familiar with being put on hold, but with UK customers experiencing waits of over an hour and average times of up to 20 minutes this year, it’s clear customers’ needs aren’t being prioritized quickly enough.

With the pandemic adding extra pressure and stress on customers, businesses must make sure they’re being attentive and responsive to every request that comes in. Slip up and brands aren’t far away from a poor customer experience going viral, especially with more people occupying themselves on social media as we continue to stay indoors. 

By creating a frictionless communications experience through technology, people and processes, brands can step up their customer service game and keep on top of customers’ varying needs.

Kill the queues

Making customers wait on hold to speak with a service representative undoubtedly puts brands in a vulnerable position, causing much frustration and impacting short-term returns. Studies show that long wait times can also have a negative impact on long-term brand loyalty, causing 33 percent of customers to consider switching their loyalty to a competitor.

It might be tempting to do away with phone lines all together, given the many other service channels available and the fact many agents are working from home nowadays. However, a huge number of customers still prefer to receive support over the phone because they value the more personal connection it provides. In fact, of the top five preferred channels for issue resolution, Gartner found that 44 percent of customers choose phone over chat (17 percent), email (15 percent), company website (12 percent), and search engine (4 percent).

With much value to be derived from the traditional phone call, businesses must have strategies in place to provide customers with the best possible experience, even when faced with the challenges of communication in the pandemic. Making customers wait in call queues simply isn’t an option for businesses anymore. To drive higher sales, earnings and returns, it’s paramount to provide superior service when and how customers expect it.

Solving issues in a flash

At a time when customers’ needs are constantly shifting, it’s never been more important for organizations to offer effective solutions to queries as quickly as possible. This can make all the difference when it comes to establishing trust and long-term loyalty.

Automation goes a significant way to help, answering routine inquiries and subsequently allowing companies to deflect “busy work” calls from live agents, freeing up their time to focus on complex issues and hard-to-solve questions. But the average contact center agent’s knowledge only extends so far, and the more complicated the issue or tougher the question, the more likely the agent is to require assistance from within the business.

This can prove frustrating for agents forced to toggle between the contact center and unified communications (UC) platforms, blindly trying to find an available subject matter expert who can help resolve the customer’s problem. Worse yet is when an agent is not able to resolve the issue on first contact because they can’t reach a qualified expert or they do not have access to the information they need to help the caller.

To best serve customers, contact center agents should have access to information on a fingertip to deliver on customer needs. They should be able to place a quick voice call, for example, to someone within the business who can provide the information they need to address the issue at hand, in a flash. An intelligent omnichannel routing can break down the walls separating the two. Pre-built UC and CRM integrations can improve first contact resolution by giving agents the ability to easily access information and subject matter experts, allowing agents to connect to them during customer engagements and bring them directly into a conversation if needed.

Break down barriers from anywhere

The Covid-19 crisis has shown the importance of empathy and human connection between brands and customers. Messages of comfort and positive support have assured consumers, as well as employees, that they are cared for during so much uncertainty.

How brands move forward will be based on what they learned through this experience, and those that understand how to get close to their customers will be able to respond agilely to their needs.

An effective way to achieve this is to architect the contact center to intentionally be more human in how it listens, engages, responds, and proactively meets customers where they are, every time they connect. A cloud contact center solution helps businesses to maximize responsiveness at any point in time, regardless of location. Not only does it enable easy work-from-home setups, it also provides omnichannel options, scalable staffing, intelligent routing, easily accessible data and AI-assisted capacities. Through this, businesses can continue to provide a high level of customer service even when adverse events occur.

For long-term success

As the pandemic continues to cause disruption, prioritizing customers and responding agilely to their needs has never been more important. Making your customers wait in a hold queue simply isn’t acceptable anymore. Thankfully, technology can enable us to bring the brand and consumer together far quicker, establishing a human connection whilst delivering a seamless experience across different channels – at any time.

Brian Atkinson, GM and VP EMEA, Five9

Brian Atkinson joined Five9 in 2019 as the GM/VP EMEA, where he is responsible for growing the EMEA region.