Why your CX could be doomed to fail in 2022
While compiling an article on the major trends in 2022 for CX and contact centres, I realised there is really only one statistic that matters. Organisations that neglect it are only setting themselves up for customer experience failure.
Imagine calling your internet service provider to report an issue. Their automated voice menu directs you to their website – only you can’t get onto the website because you’re calling to tell them your internet service is down. What do you do next? And how confident are you now that your ISP will be able to resolve your problem?
Is your CX as good as you think it is?
This is a classic example of contact centre – customer disconnect, and the evidence suggests that this might be a growing problem in the customer experience world. For example, take the 2021 State of Customer Experience report from Genesys. Based on surveys with 2,629 global consumers and 690 CX executives from multiple industries across the world, the report shows a gap between how CX professionals view the effectiveness of their customer experience and how consumers view it.
In the report, 61% of CX professionals said their voice channel was ‘highly effective’ in meeting customer expectations, followed by 57% for video, 55% for email, and 53% for both live webchat and mobile app. By contrast, only 38% of consumers surveyed said they were ‘highly satisfied’ with their experience using voice channels. 44% of consumers said they’d been ‘highly satisfied’ with video, 33% with email, 35% with live webchat, and 39% with mobile apps.
That’s a consistent gap in perception across the board and suggests that most consumers find the customer experience far less satisfying than CX professionals assume. It begs the question: is your CX as good as you think it is?
Many companies are ignoring how consumers want to interact with them
There’s a difference between how consumers prefer to interact with companies and how those companies would like them to interact. Taking another example from the Genesys report, we can see that most global consumers surveyed prefer to use the phone when trying to resolve a problem.
In 2021, 68% of those surveyed had used voice over the prior 12 months, followed by 63% who had used email, 48% who had used live webchat, 37% who had used a messaging app, and 36% who had used a mobile app. Only 26% of those surveyed reported trying to self-serve to solve their customer service issue.
If you’d told someone in the UK contact centre business 10 years ago that 68% of customers would still prefer to use the phone to contact them in 2021-2022, they wouldn’t have believed you. The industry has been investing huge amounts specifically into digital and automated channels in order to reduce the volume of live contacts.
In doing so, however, many organisations have forgotten the fundamental truth that people prefer a human interaction when they have a problem. The more complicated or urgent the problem, the truer this is. Note that the top 3 channels mentioned above all involve interacting with a live agent.
One reason for this is that people seem to feel that a real person is more likely to resolve their issue first time. According to the Institute of Customer Service’s most recent UK Customer Satisfaction Index, 14.9% of consumers surveyed experienced a problem with an organisation – the highest rate since 2009. And when it comes to what companies could do better, the top responses were “making it easier to find the right person to help me”, “better website navigation”, and having more friendly and knowledgeable staff.
So yes, customers want their issues resolved as quickly as possible. But they also believe that speaking to knowledgeable staff is the best way to do this. The interesting question is why. Some non-live support journeys take too much effort for customers. In that situation they revert to wanting to speak to a person to get their problem resolved. At the same time, consumers feel more trust and confidence from a live agent that the action they require has been taken. For customers to accept self-service, organisations need to build these same feelings into their journey design.
Contact Babel’s UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2021-22 reinforces this point. According to Contact Babel’s research, “both businesses and consumers agree that first-contact resolution is the most important single factor impacting upon customer experience when contacting a business”, while a short wait time for response “is also seen as being a vital part of the customer experience”.
Despite this, we can see that first-contact resolution rates are heading in the wrong direction
Effective CX is about building trust with your customers
If you track where investment is going compared to how customers prefer to resolve their problems, the industry has invested in non-live support channels because they’re trying to reduce the cost of contact.
Yet people won’t use a digital channel just because it’s there. It must be easy to use. It has to be able to resolve their issues. And they have to have trust that it can solve their problem while also being easy to use. Any digital channel can be effective – including self-service – but your customers need to feel reassured that it will work.
For example, when you make a credit payment online and you receive an SMS to confirm the payment has gone through, that offers reassurance similar to what you experience when making a payment over the phone. You know the action has been done because you have confirmation via a second channel.
Yet even if you do all of this, people still won’t self-serve – or use any channels – if it takes too much effort.
The one CX stat that matters
This is why, when it comes to looking at the major trends likely to impact on CX and contact centres in 2022, one statistic matters more than any other: customer effort. Way back in 2010, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review that changed my view of customer experience. Entitled Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers, it used the findings of a five-year industry study to prove that the more effort it takes for customers to interact with a firm, the less loyal they would be. Therefore, organisations should stop trying to exceed customer expectations, and instead focus on providing consistently efficient and effective services.
I never forgot that article. Everything I’ve experienced in the CX industry since then has only reinforced its message. CX exists to help your customers solve their problems as quickly and simply as possible. Organisations forget this at their peril.
To put it bluntly, a CX strategy that prioritises the wrong things is doomed to fail. Organisations need to avoid the temptation to build CX solutions around what they want to do. Instead, they should focus on helping customers to do what they want to do, and making it as low effort as possible, regardless of channel. Get that right and the rest can follow.
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