Although the contact center is still a highly valued department in most companies, consumers are beginning to lose faith. Because individuals can now use smartphones, tablets and other devices to access the internet, they are able to gain valuable knowledge on particular products and services provided by companies. In fact, many of today's shoppers believe they know more about an organization's offerings than the agents working in the contact center.
This was highlighted in a study of 1,000 consumers in the U.S. and U.K. by two major telecommunications providers in both nations, which revealed that roughly 70 percent of respondents think they know more about the products they are investigating than the individuals within the help desk. This perception is forever changing the customer service industry, as more than three-quarters of consumers say they only make purchases from firms that are easy to deal with, placing more value on convenience than price.
"Consumers are more connected and better informed than ever before, so when they do call – or use another channel such as webchat or video – they expect to deal with someone who knows what they're talking about," telecom expert Andrew Small said.
The survey also revealed that almost half of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. believe company loyalty is dead. For this reason, decision-makers need to develop strategies that strengthen the trust prospective clients have for an organization, giving them reason to come back down the road.
Keeping clients happy at all costs
Doing the bare minimum to keep customers satisfied is no longer efficient, as today's consumers are experienced enough to know what minimal service means: an apathetic company. As a result, enterprises need to go above and beyond traditional strategies to meet consumer demands.
The study found that individuals are now using a broad range of collaborative platforms to communicate with corporate representatives, as the number of people using video conferencing solutions doubled since 2010, with approximately 13 percent of respondents using them every week. And while webchat is also gaining momentum, the business phone system remains the preferred method of communication.
The survey highlighted that more than three-quarters of consumers have called a company within the last six months. In fact, more than 90 percent of consumers want enterprises to display their phone numbers clearly on all collaborative channels because most individuals believe speaking with a real person is the best way to alleviate any problem.
"The new challenge for contact center operators is to build the infrastructure that enables consumers to seamlessly switch between all of the channels they provide to give a truly cohesive and satisfying customer experience," expert Simon Culmer said. "The most significant factor, regardless of channel used, is that consumers reach the right agent equipped with the right knowledge and tools to resolve their issues in a timely and efficient manner."
A separate report by ContactBabel highlighted how taking a multichannel approach to the contact center can improve customer service, sales effectiveness and a number of other important metrics that can determine the fate of an organization. If decision-makers are still using an antiquated voice platform, which is among the most important solutions in a contact center, they should consider replacing their old phone system with VoIP and hosted services that provide a better experience for the consumer and employee.
In the coming years, consumers will continue to evolve, and it will be the contact center manager's responsibility to ensure his or her organization can keep up. If a business cannot meet next-generation customer demands, it will have difficulty surviving in the long run.