NICE Labels Frictionless Experiences Key to Customer Service at Interactions Event

Four-in-five consumers (81 percent) say they want more self-service options, yet only 15 percent of consumers expressed a high level of satisfaction with the tools provided to them today, according to NICE's 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report, released yesterday at the NICE Interactions 2022 conference.

Additionally, more than half (53 percent) of consumers are very satisfied with their self-service. Yet 95 percent of companies reported a major increase in self-service requests in 2021, which NICE said indicates rapid growth in consumer demand for greater speed and convenience and less friction in their interactions.

The company noted that expectations for speed, convenience, and less friction are increasing as digital and self-service channels continue to grow and mature.

The research also found that more than one-third (36 percent) of consumers want to see companies make their self-service smarter, yet less than 11 percent of businesses are making that a priority.

Among other findings were the following:

  • 95 percent of consumers place great importance on customer service, which impacts brand loyalty.
  • 57 percent of consumers would abandon companies after one or two negative digital customer service interactions, yet most businesses tend to underestimate how quickly that could happen.
  • The top digital channels companies plan to expand significantly are chat (47 percent), website access (44 percent), and search options (42 percent).

Focus on Frictionless Service

The best customer service is frictionless, NICE CEOBarak Eilam told the audience. "Removing friction from experiences is going to be the main catalyst for the technological innovations and strategic investments that we will be seeing over the next 25 years."

Many industries already declared war against friction, and those that did completely disrupted and re-invented their space right in front of us, in a way that is historically unprecedented, Eilam added. "In these industries, the established notions of how things are done was challenged. Essential building blocks were re-assembled, replaced, or bypassed in completely new and creative ways. And by doing that our daily lives were reshaped, sometimes in less obvious and more unexpected aspects."

The next level of the frictionless revolution will create an immersive reality that removes friction from day-to-day decisions, according to Eilam. "We managed to remove the stress inherent in making big and small decisions by allowing you to realistically try out each option before making up your mind," he said.

"For example, if you are planning to remodel, rent, or buy a new home here in the future, you can actually spend some time virtually living there with your family for a few days. You will be able to finalize your furniture layout, feel what it's like to live with your future neighbors, get a sense of the noise levels at different times of the day, and just like that make your moving decision easy and frictionless."

Eilam pointed to five pillars of frictionless self-service:

  1. Digital entry points: 40 percent of consumers use search engines as their first service entry point. Companies need to ensure that that service-related questions entered in a simple Google search are getting accurate answers.
  2. Understand intent: It doesn't matter how good your bots are or how many of them you have; it's all about fully understanding intent using unique CX data at scale.
  3. Customer journey orchestration: At the heart of the frictionless service is unified journey orchestration. There is no way to achieve frictionless CX without one central point of orchestration.
  4. Prepared agents: Human agents need to be proactively inserted into interactions at the right moments and need to be fully prepared to meet customer needs.
  5. Complete performance: Companies need to expand how service performance is scheduled, managed, and measured beyond the contact center. The newly extended CX footprint includes all doorsteps, journeys, and attended and unattended employees.

In one of the many breakout sessions Tuesday, Glenn Paul, ICX vice president of marketing, said company executives must focus on CX for the success of their companies.

The tone needs to be set from the very top, Paul said, pointing out that he was able to get a direct response from Jeff Bezos' staff a day after emailing the Amazon CEO—a very different experience from when his bank was closing the location where his safe deposit box was held. A safe deposit box is very valuable, much more so than the issue that he contacted Bezos about. Such experiences can quickly lose customers.

"I think this is why [Bezos] is the second-richest guy in the world," Paul said. "He sets the tone from the top. Whether or not they know it, CEOs are chief experience officers.

"We all remember a bad customer experience," Paul added.

He mentioned another experience in which a phone carrier didn't respond within three days, so he changed to another provider.

Companies can lose customers due to inability or unwillingness to solve a problem, ignoring feedback, particularly if asking customers to fill out long surveys, communications barriers, poorly implemented bots, and other reasons, Paul said. "There are many ways to lose customers, but the fastest is not treating customers the way you would like to be treated."

Excellent customer service adds to the bottom line, Paul said. "The stock price of the company that I went to was up 95 percent, compared to only 10 percent for the company that I came from."

Paul added: "It is much cheaper keeping a customer than gaining a new one. The most expensive part of business is trying to earn new customers, with the spending on advertising, marketing, and sales. We lose customers when we offer poor customer experiences. Great companies provide great customer experiences and create loyal customers. That creates higher corporate valuations."

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When contact centers place a value on self-service and the data that customers provide, service becomes less of a cost center and more of a value-adder, NICE event speakers maintained.

Posted May 26, 2022