Want to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service? Make it Speedy

In today's hyper-competitive economy, customer experience has become a key differentiator in building brand loyalty and market share. Businesses are increasingly focused on delivering personalized, engaging interactions to create customers for life. While there are a number of ways to gauge customer experience success, such as personalized service, convenience, offering the most complete information, etc., one consistently stands out among consumers. According to the recent NICE inContact CX Transformation study, the leading indicator of successful customer service is speed.

Interestingly, consumers view proactivity as a critical component of ensuring the fastest resolution times. The same study found that 87 percent of consumers expect companies to point them to the channel that will resolve the situation the fastest. If the current channel is lagging, consumers want businesses to redirect them. And, customers expect a seamless transition. In fact, 72 percent expect to be able to continue talking with the same representative on the phone as they had in online chat, enabling a contextual channel transition.

Optimal customer service experiences balance meeting consumer expectations around personalization and omnichannel with fast, easy resolution. Here's a few ways businesses can achieve this:

Reconsider Your Omnichannel Approach

Between voice, chat, web, and mobile, the ways in which consumers engage with businesses continues to expand. Digital channels like text messaging or online chat create new opportunities for authentic, personalized interactions, and businesses are eager to integrate them to support a larger customer experience strategy. That said, many are still struggling to provide true omnichannel service that delivers seamless and contextual channel transitions. This should be a priority since consumers expect to be guided to the best channel for quick resolution. Only 27 percent of businesses surveyed, however, stated they planned to invest in new technology that allows channels of communication to work together seamlessly.

Without this integration, it's common for crucial information to be lost at key stages in the customer service journey. Consider a customer who initiates an inquiry via online chat. The business then recommends engaging via phone with a live representative to speed up the process. When the customer reaches out via phone, the receiving representative needs the entire context. Without it, the customer must re-explain, adding to both time of resolution and frustration for both the customer and the agent. Some businesses are enabling agents to transition from channel to channel with the customer: In the above example, the agent would call the customer directly and naturally continue the conversation that started on chat.

Power Your Customer Service Representatives

As the front line in customer experience, a representative's ability to quickly resolve issues is paramount. Consider the two-thirds rule, as found in the CX Transformation study: More than two-thirds of all customer service interactions are with live customer service agents, more than two-thirds of customers prefer agent assistance over self-service, and, more than two-thirds of self-service interactions end up involving agent assistance. In other words, the need to optimize live agent interactions cannot be ignored.

To jumpstart your business' ability to quickly resolve issues and deliver exceptional customer experiences, representatives need the proper support. Yet, many agents are hamstrung by clunky interfaces or redundant tools. According to Aberdeen, the typical customer service agent spends 15 percent of her time finding relevant information for customers, bouncing between an average of five to seven interfaces. Agents are struggling to find information quickly because their tools aren't serving their intended purposes.

The right technology can be the make-or-break factor in meeting and exceeding customer service expectations in the coming years. With a single agent desktop and seamless omnichannel routing that captures customer journey context, an exceptional agent experience can be a powerful CX differentiator. A modern cloud customer experience platform can power agents to be more efficient and effective, so issues can be resolved as quickly as possible. And, when agents have the tools they need to perform well, it leads to improved agent satisfaction, which ultimately improves their ability to consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Improve Efficiencies; Create Happier Customers

Customers expect businesses to address issues as efficiently as possible; consumers commend businesses for quick and easy resolution from helpful agents. Businesses can improve performance and build loyalty by using a modern cloud customer experience platform that enables customer service to provide seamless omnichannel support. This creates a customer journey that is not only engaging, but also quickly and effectively meets customer expectations.

Chris Bauserman is vice president of product and segment marketing at NICE inContact.