The rapid acceleration of digital transformation over the past two year – driven by the global COVID-19 pandemic – has profoundly and irreversibly changed customer behaviour and expectations, forcing companies to re-engineer their engagement strategies.
Statistics compiled by Forbes reveal that 93% of customer service teams say customers have higher expectations than ever before, while 75% of consumers say the pandemic will drive long-term changes in their behaviour.
Owen McConnell, Senior Marketing Manager, EMEA Emerging Markets at Zendesk, says engagement across all touchpoints along the customer journey. They want helpful and empathetic agents, always customers are increasingly expecting seamless, personalised and immediate -on support, and streamlined conversational experiences, regardless of whether they are talking to a human or chatbot.
In reality, many brands are not living up to these expectations, delivering customer service that is failing to impress its customers. The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022 released this year reveals that 68% of customers feel most businesses need to improve the training of their customer service agents, while 65% of customers under age 40 report that customer service feels like an afterthought for most of the businesses they buy from.
Brands that are serious about delivering a superior customer experience and understand the business benefits that stem from deeper engagement with consumers realised that the pandemic presented a key opportunity to better service their customers online.
Customer experience (CX) leaders should understand the dynamics of creating a customer journey that meets increasingly high customer expectations and recognise that building and growing customer relationships requires that these three fundamentals are in place:
1. Know your customers
“Modern customers, especially millennials and Generation Z, are redefining what a good customer experience means. Well-defined, slick and efficient processes are table stakes these days. What sets companies apart in their service experience is delivering efficiency in an empathetic, resourceful and considerate manner,” says McConnell.
Now more than ever, brands need to know who their customers are, what they want and what they expect from the customer journey. To this end, businesses need to focus on an omnichannel customer communication approach that leverages a single agent interface to create a seamless and personalised customer experience across all touchpoints.
“Impressing younger customers is even more difficult for companies, as millennials and GenZers tend to have much stronger opinions about what a good customer experience should look like and are more critical of companies that don’t measure up,” notes McConnell.
With this in mind, companies must place the right information at their agents’ fingertips. Hence, by surfacing the information in a logical manner to the agent, the agent has more insight into the situation of the customer they are dealing with.
However, he points out that without a clear commitment from top leadership, organisations run the risk of missing opportunities to blend customer insights into their larger strategic engagement model.
2. The role of the contact centre
The contact centre's role is evolving from providing simple customer service to being central in driving brand and quality perception in the market and hence becoming a driver of future sales and growth. At the same time, agents are evolving to touch the entire customer journey, from product discovery to purchase, and more.
“Armed with the details that the company knows about the customer, the agent can focus their attention on understanding how the company's products and services impacted the customer, what their problem statement is and can deal with it in a manner that places emphasis on the emotive experience of the customer,” he adds.
“This also creates opportunities for agents to cross or upsell, based on the insights they have into the customer and their past buying behaviour.”
The Zendesk study also finds that customer engagement with brands is growing swiftly in volume, with many companies expecting a 25% jump in customer engagements over the next two years. This would place a massive burden on support teams that are already overworked and overstretched.
“Such growth in customer engagement is not sustainable while relying only on human agents. Digitisation of all aspects of the brand, including front line customer support, is critical. Part of this drive is the use of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact centre.
3. The right technology
A single agent interface is key to enabling any digital channel, in one place. This helps to save companies a lot of time and money and also results in a hassle-free experience for the customer. Essentially, a multichannel approach helps examine every touchpoint of customer insights across all channels.
“Having the best people is very important, but they can only do so much without the right technologies in place. Therefore, companies looking to drive and sustain growth must focus on two emerging customer service capabilities: AI and automation and conversational customer service,” says McConnell.
“And we’re not talking about the standard, monotonous dumb chatbot that repetitively tries to force the same topic on the customer. Instead, a truly AI-driven interaction where, through natural language understanding, intent is surfaced and the knowledge shared is based on the understood context.”
Zendesk customer relationship management (CRM) solutions facilitate inbound and outbound customer engagement, allowing companies to leverage rich customer insights across all departments. Zendesk is designed to help companies empower their customer service agents and sales teams with the tools to be efficient, productive and effective.
As one of the leading implementers of Zendesk solutions in South Africa, Jasco can customise the platform to meet the needs and demands of any size and type of business, with instantaneous local support on a 24/7 basis.