9 CX insights from Contact Babel’s annual decision-makers guide
Contact Babel’s annual UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide is a benchmark report for the UK customer experience sector. This year’s guide has recently been released, making this the ideal time to review the major challenges and standout findings from the industry.
For this article, we’ve pulled together the nine most interesting points from the guide that bring out some of the biggest challenges facing the UK customer experience sector.
Insight # 1: CX is a more important competitive advantage than price or quality
The first key insight from the guide is that 48% of B2B organisations and 53% of B2C organisations surveyed rank customer experience as the most important factor on which they compete.
This shows that organisations are well aware of the importance of customer experience – and of getting it right.
Insight # 2: Customers want first contact resolution but firms are struggling to achieve it
The industry has known for a long time now just how important first contact resolution is to customers. The chart below shows how highly customers rank this issue:
As we discuss further on, companies are investing in digital CX technologies, yet this investment doesn’t seem to be improving first time resolution rates. In fact, from the chart below we can see that the trend over time has been for first call resolution rates to worsen.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind another point made in the guide. Although some companies have been getting worse at first call resolution, it is natural for the rate to worsen as digital CX technology improves.
When a company creates a successful digital self-serve journey, this means that less complex customer issues are more likely to be resolved digitally. What’s left are the more complex, difficult issues that naturally take longer to resolve.
Organisations must take this into account in the way they design, implement, and deliver their customer journeys. The more you can reduce friction and emotional triggers, the less frustrated customers are likely to be when they call, and the less time a call is likely to take.
This is where customer experience audits can be extremely helpful, since a good audit will include working out where the friction points are in your customer journey that are likely to trigger stress, anxiety, or frustration, enabling you to remove them.
Insight # 3: Telephony is the most popular channel by far and it’s here to stay
This pie chart clearly shows that customers overwhelmingly prefer to use the phone, with 69.7% of all inbound interactions being via this channel (63.5% live agent plus 6.2% self-service). This is a remarkable statistic and far in advance of where the industry thought we’d be by now.
Businesses must avoid the temptation to make it more difficult for people to call them, as this will inevitably lead to more frustrated customers. In our experience, it’s also often the case that when organisations try to force customers to use digital channels, those customers rebel and deliberately call them up instead. In short, telephony is here to stay and will never be replaced, only augmented by other channels.
Insight # 4: Despite telephony’s popularity, businesses are investing more in digital channels
Despite digital channels only accounting for around 25% of inbound interactions – while live and self-service telephony combined account for around 70% of inbound interactions – organisations are still investing more into digital channels than telephony.
In reality, we should not view telephony and digital as distinct, but rather as two essential and complementary parts of a holistic CX approach, as we explain in this blog: Bridging the Gap Between Digital and Telephony.
Insight # 5: Email is not good for resolving complex issues
As we can see, ringing the call centre is the most popular option for customers in every age bracket when dealing with complex issues. However, a significant minority in each age group would also attempt to use email.
Most operational managers we know dislike email because it’s difficult to manage and quality control an agent’s individual Outlook account. At the same time, from a customer perspective, once you’ve sent your email, you are not in control of the next steps.
Insight # 6: Social media remains relatively little used
One interesting point that comes out of this pie chart is how little social media is used for contact centre interactions.
The reason for this is simple, however. Not many organisations are set up to use social media for customer service – only for marketing and PR purposes.
Insight # 7: Contact centres still struggle to get a unified single view of the customer
One issue that comes out of the guide loud and clear is that many contact centres are struggling with their customer experience technology, “with 39% of organisations stating that their CX technology was either poor or average, and… 32% being quite negative about the time available for CX improvements.”
We can see that many organisations believe their legacy technology remains a barrier to good customer experience:
While 51% of survey respondents also said that not having a single view of the customer across channels is also a major challenge:
The way we see omni-channel at Customer Touch Point is simple: a true omni-channel experience means that however a customer contacts you, your agents can view all previous interactions. If a customer calls your contact centre after using your chatbot, your agents should be able to see the chatbot conversation and know why the customer is calling.
Take another example of a customer looking for answers in your FAQs. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, wouldn’t it be great if a contact number popped up allowing them to contact the right agent to answer their query? Wouldn’t it also be helpful for that agent to see what questions the customer had viewed, so the customer wouldn’t have to explain what they’re looking for?
This technology exists, and it allows you to connect your customers to the right person instantly to answer their query, as well as feeding back where there are gaps in the FAQs that you can fill, thereby reducing the number of inbound calls.
Insight # 8: There’s a need for more information sharing between contact centres and the rest of the business
The chart below shows that 25% of respondents report that more than half of their call-backs are due to failures in downstream processes and actions (or lack of them), showing that there is a need for joined-up processes between the front and back-office as well as between channels.
This is another reflection of the common contact centre challenge of being joined up and coherent in the way you deal with customers. This is where customer journey mapping is so important.
It’s also important to note that contact centres should be taking note of common, repetitive issues that they’re receiving calls about. If you don’t feed that information back into the business, it will ultimately cost you money. If, on the other hand, you are able to spot common failure demand points, you are also able to solve them, improve your customer experience, and save money.
Insight # 9: Companies are not measuring customer effort – but they should
As we can see from this pie chart, Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) are used by 27% and 24% of boards, while Customer effort scores are used by only 2% of them. This tells us that most boards may be focusing on the wrong metrics.
NPS and CSAT may be useful for benchmarking against competitors, or between company departments. However, neither of these has a direct commercial impact on your business. Sure, a customer may tell you they are satisfied, but nothing comes of this. By the same token, a high net promoter score suggests that customer will recommend your organisation, but in reality they rarely do.
By contrast, in our experience, when using Customer Effort as a metric, two little questions can revolutionise a business:
- How difficult was it to do what you wanted to do today, on scale of 1 – 10?
If any customers rate you at a 7, 8, 9, or 10 on the difficulty scale, you follow up with:
- Can you please tell us what was difficult?
Not only does this give you a benchmark. It also tells you exactly where to look in your customer journeys to find and resolve issues. Effort scores have a much greater link to business value by helping to reduce costs while also improving your customer experience, as highlighted in this ground breaking Harvard Business Review article on the subject from 2012.
Final thoughts: Customer experience benefits from joined-up thinking
We’ve written before about why CX strategies are doomed to fail, and in short, the reason is the lack of joined up and strategic thinking.
As we’ve seen from some of the charts above, telephony and digital channels are too often considered as separate entities, rather than two halves of the same unified CX strategy. Joined up thinking stops this short-term approach and leads to more strategic decisions.
Organisations are aware of the challenge, as seen by the findings on the limitations of legacy customer experience technology and the frustrations with not being able to have a single view of the customer. Integrating CX technology can help with this, as can adapting customer journey design, but it all starts with knowing the customer. Without putting the customer first, contact centres will always struggle to improve the customer experience.
By focusing on measuring customer effort, organisations are able quickly to pinpoint their customer journey issues and to resolve them.
Other ways to do this is to look at customer experience audits, customer journey design, and customer experience integration, all of which we offer as part of our range of CX services at Customer Touch Point.
Sign up to our newsletter