What has been the biggest shift in customer experience in recent years?
It’s not the COVID-19 pandemic, though that has certainly played a large role. According to NICE inContact CEO Paul Jarman, the biggest change has been the democratization of opinion. Customers have more of a voice than ever before, which has forced companies to focus on experience. Brands learned that they have to provide an experience that individuals are excited about and will share with family and friends in order to gain customers. As Jarman says, the push towards customer experience has given more power to consumers in voice and choice.
But what does customer empowerment look like in the midst of a global pandemic? Worldwide shutdowns and restrictions changed how companies do business and interact with their customers. It placed a larger emphasis on digital interactions and mobile service. And even after the pandemic is over, digital will still play a large role in customer experience, especially in the contact center.
As companies navigate the new world with COVID-19, they need to know how things have changed and how those changes will impact the future.
NICE inContact’s 2020 Benchmark surveyed contact center leaders across the country to get a sense of how customer experience has changed this year and where it is going in the future. Here are four main takeaways to lead CX into 2021:
1 . A dramatic move to the cloud.
After years of the technology growing and becoming more reliable, companies are now realizing that it is easier to be agile and innovative in the cloud. Nice InContact’s survey found that 66% of contact center decision-makers plan to accelerate their move to the cloud because of the pandemic. Cloud-based CX technology allows for seamless service and a consistent experience across all channels.
2 . Significant increase in digital channels.
Customers have gone digital, with 62% of contact centers reporting more digital interactions since COVID started. Even after the pandemic is over, customers will still expect to be able to communicate with companies digitally. Jarman says one of the main difficulties of companies going digital is that they have multiple systems that don’t work together. The push from COVID to interact with customers digitally shows the importance of a single unified system to simplify the digital experience for both contact centers agents and customers.
3 . More mobile apps.
Customers want to communicate with companies through mobile apps. Mobile apps saw the biggest growth in contact centers from 2019, increasing by 8% to 56% of companies using apps to communicate with customers. Mobile apps are especially important for younger consumers and Gen Z, who expect brands to interact with them in private social messaging apps. Effective mobile apps allow customers to contact a brand whenever it’s convenient for them.
4 . Room for improvement for chatbots.
Chatbots have long been billed as the future of customer service, especially in contact centers, but many customers haven’t found chatbots to be reliable enough to use. Although many customers prefer self-service options like chatbots over other channels like talking to a human on the phone, 90% of CX practitioners believe chatbots need to get smarter before customers will be willing to use them regularly. Even with all of the digital growth in contact centers, the number of companies using chatbots stayed constant from 2019 at 46%.
Customer experience is more strategic than ever before. Understanding changes helps companies build effective strategies as they allow contact centers to have more creativity and power to get things done. Jarman believes customer experience now needs to be the key focus for every company, but the good news is that the sky's the limit. With creativity and technology, brands can create powerful digital solutions that are boundless.
This week's podcast is sponsored by NICE inContact
NICE inContact works with organizations of all sizes to create extraordinary and trustworthy customer experiences that create deeper brand loyalty and relationships that last.
With NICE inContact CXone, the industry’s most complete cloud customer experience platform, the company combines best-in-class Customer Analytics, Omnichannel Routing, Workforce Optimization, Automation and Artificial Intelligence, all on an Open Cloud Foundation to help any company transform every single customer interaction.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.