In 2020, digital customer acquisition and retention strategies took a front seat to accommodate for the meteoric rise in e-commerce. As we turn our eyes to what 2021 holds, brands must increasingly rely on digital strategies to keep pace with the new business landscape. Customer experience (CX) is at the forefront of these emerging strategies toward which brands are pivoting their investments. According to a Forrester’s consumer CX quality survey, the number of brands improving their CX in 2020 was up 13 percent from 2019, and the growth is forecasted to continue in 2021.
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With changing customer expectations, it is imperative for brands to evaluate and improve upon their customer experience strategies. The same Forrester survey showed that digital customer service interactions are slated to rise by 40 percent in 2021. Rather than a few cosmetic tweaks in website design or introducing the same old chatbot with a new skin, it’s going to be essential for brands to truly address customer needs to help them achieve their desired outcomes.
Let’s take a closer look at three ways customer expectations are transforming andwhat that means for CXin 2021.
Trend #1: There IS a Silver Bullet: Proactive Contact Deflection
With an increased shift to e-commerce comes a higher frequency of customers looking to get their customer service issues resolved online. With trends projecting a 40 percent increase in these digital interactions brand can expect anincreased strain on customer service departments that are already stretched thin. This meanscompanies will need to deflect the frequency of contacts to take the burden off of human customer service, particularly for level one support.
When it comes down to it, not every customer service question demands an in-person response. Not only does this time spent resolving lower-level issues zap time better served helping more advanced problems, but it’s oftentimes not advantageous for general customer experience. Giving customers the tools they need to resolve their own issues can present a more streamlined experience that provides vital information to customers when they need it, without having to interact with a human, or even a chatbot.
By offering proactive guidance that delivers the right information to a customer at the right time, these level one questions can be anticipated and resolved before they even become customer service issues. Finding these potential problem points in the customer journey from product selection, to transactions, to post-sale support and password resets can help elevate the customer experience without the need for human intervention.
Trend #2: Chatbots Need Support to Prevent Frustration
With how often companies rely on chatbots to resolve customer issues, you’d get the impression that they were popular or, at the very least, successful. The truth is that chatbots in their current form do little to handle customer support, and oftentimes lead to customer frustration, and poor customer experience that can translate to reduced customer loyalty.
One survey goMoxie conducted revealed that a scant 22 percent of respondents had a positive impression of chatbots. Further, 60 percent expressed that chatbots don’t communicate their issues effectively. With such low satisfaction numbers, it really is a surprise that companies continue to rely on chatbots for even low-level customer support issues.
As more companies begin adapting to the increased demand of e-commerce, 2021 and beyond could see a reckoning of unsuccessful technologies that don’t provide the ideal customer experience outcomes that companies are trying to achieve. As chatbots serve on the front line of many customer service interactions, the companies that continue to heavily rely on them may begin to see a decrease in customer loyalty as frustration peaks in the coming years.
So what can businesses do to prevent frustration and ensure customers don’t bounce?Consider layering proactive guidance in front of your chatbot. By offering up snippets of information to help customers make informed decisions, businesses can address repetitive inquiries before a customer even has to reach out, saving chatbots for less common interactions where further self-service is needed.
Trend #3: Artificial Intelligence Will Fuel Self-Service
On the most base level, chatbots represent an early version of artificial intelligence. Yet because of their inability to evolve with the demands of customer queries, they continue to be a source of frustration throughout the customer experience. Customers expect companies to do better. To meet those expectations, brands need to leverage more advanced AI to fuel the customer insights needed to effectively understand customer service issues and proactively offer recommendations on how to resolve them.
By using tools to identify where and why customers struggle throughout their journey, companies are able to glean valuable, easy-to-understand insights that can be used to optimize and guide customer experience. Gathering customer experience data in the form of questions, feedback, frustrations, and praise—when extrapolated across millions of contact center engagements—can enable companies to consistently improve the online customer experience by identifying similar pain points and successes in solving them.
According to one Gartner survey, only 13 percent of customers reported that a company had reached out proactively. For those that did, an overwhelming majority, 85 percent, said that the experience was valuable. Customer experience is a compounding force. By identifying the issues that customers face, discovering solutions on how to resolve those issues, and leveraging AI to produce the insights to guide future customer experience, companies are best able to shape a broader CX strategy in the future.
Customer experience is going to be a cornerstone of successful companies going forward, particularly as digital strategies work to keep up with the rising demand of e-commerce. By guiding customers through their journeys, learning from their frustrations, and adapting to their needs, companies can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, all while freeing up valuable customer support bandwidth to deal with higher-level concerns.
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