Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

CCW Executive Report: Customer Experience


Published on

Download the full report here:

For a copy sent directly to you, email us at

You’re investing in the customer experience. But is the experience you’re creating the one your customers actually want? Our CCW Digital Executive Report on the Customer Experience will answer that question.

CCW Digital surveyed everyday consumers about what they demand when it comes to the customer experience.

Some questions answered in this report:

- How many bad experiences will make a customer switch to a competitor?
- Will customers really pay more for a good experience?
- What are customers’ Top 5 demands when interacting with a business?
- What factors prevent businesses from meeting those demands?
- What are the most common customer complaints?
- How well do businesses respond to customer feedback?
- How do customers really feel about calling for customer service?

Get the report:

Published in: Sales
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

CCW Executive Report: Customer Experience

  1. 1. CCW Digital Executive Report: Customer Experience You care about the customer experience. You’re investing in the customer experience. But is the experience you’re creating the one your customers actually want? Our CCW Digital Executive Report on the Customer Experience will answer that question. DIGITAL
  2. 2. DIGITAL · 2 Introduction/Foreword Customer management thought leaders go nary a second without touting the importance of customer centricity. They routinely urge businesses to put customers – and the voices of those customers – first. In the ultimate irony, these thought leaders then proceed to provide advice from an internal business standpoint. They ask businesspeople to assess performance. They ask businesspeople about key customer experience challenges. They ask business leaders about key customer engagement trends. This approach is simply unacceptable in the so-called age of customer centricity. Assessments, analyses and decisions need to be made through the eyes of the customer. What does the customer want when interacting with a brand? How does the customer feel about the experience he is receiving? CCW Digital’s Executive Report on the Customer Experience adheres to this customer-centric way of thinking. Instead of strictly relying on a survey of business leaders, it asked end-user consumers to identify their customer experience thoughts, habits and preferences. It then compared these findings with a survey of businesses to identify gaps in the two modes of thinking. Do businesses really know their customers? And even if they do, do they really know how to satisfy them? In addition to analyzing the research, this report highlights three valuable, practical approaches for elevating the customer experience – on the customer’s terms. About The Author Brian Cantor Principal Analyst, CCW Digital Customer Management Practice Brian Cantor is the principal analyst for the IQPC Customer Management Practice. In his role, Brian leads all customer experience, contact center, technology and employee engagement research initiatives. Citing this proprietary research, Brian authors CMP’s series of special reports. Brian additionally serves as managing editor and director for CCW Digital, which is the largest web publication and community for customer experience professionals.CCW Digital’s articles, commentaries, infographics, executive interviews, webinars and online events reach a community of over 170,000. A passionate advocate for customer centricity, Brian regularly speaks on major CX conference agendas. He also advises organizations on customer experience and business development strategies.
  3. 3. DIGITAL · 3 Key Findings: Bad experiences cost the business. 62% of customers will consider switching to a competitor after only 1 or 2 negative interactions. 45% would switch even if the competitor charged more for an equivalent product. When dealing with a rude or incompetent agent, nearly 50% of customers blame the business. Customers, on the other hand, greatly value good experiences. 63% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience. 25% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience regardless of product type. Customers and businesses both identify first contact resolution as the top priority during interactions. Other high-ranking priorities for customers include fast resolutions and friendly agents. “Wait time before reaching a live agent” is the most frequent source of customer complaints. Companies, as a general rule, respond to complaints. They are most likely to respond when similar complaints are being made by many customers. They may respond, but they do not necessarily respond well. More than 40% of customers rarely or never receive a satisfactory response. Proactive engagement is a gateway to a superior experience. It is the #1 way to win back lost customers. The “call center” term and concept may be obsolete, but live voice conversations are still en vogue. Live voice remains customers’ preferred communication channel. Disintegration is crippling the customer experience. It is the #1 technology challenge and #1 cause of poor productivity.
  4. 4. DIGITAL · 4 To collect data for the Executive Report on the Customer Experience, CCW Digital conducted two in-depth market research surveys. One survey involved customer experience, contact center, marketing, operations and IT professionals answering questions on behalf of their companies. Example respondent job titles included “Senior Director, National Call Center Operations,” “VP of Revenue Cycle,” “Director of Customer Care,” “VP of Sales,” “CX Director,” “Head of Global Outsourcing,” “Vice President of Phone Center Operations,” “VP of CX Operations,” “Manager, Customer Service,” “Vice President of Customer Support,” “Director of Customer & Compliance,” and “Training and Readiness Manager.” 74% of those surveyed directly influence their organizations’ customer experience budgets, while 36% either sit-in or directly report to the C-suite. The respondent pool encompasses a wide range of organizations, including a substantial number of large organizations. 48% of respondent organizations generate over $1 billion in annual revenue, and 64% have multiple contact center sites. For 63% of organizations, the average contact center site seats over 50 agents. The other survey was issued to consumers, who answered questions about their own preferences. The respondent pool encompasses a wide range of adult consumers; all age groups (over the age of 18), geographic regions, and income levels are represented. Demographics & Methodology
  5. 5. DIGITAL · 5 On the one hand, thought leaders say we are in the age of customer centricity. Organizations routinely identify the customer experience and associated metrics like customer satisfaction and customer loyalty as their top priorities. On the other hand, customer experience problems persist. Customers continue to face issues when interacting with brands, and they accordingly maintain their stigmatized view of the customer experience. Despite the persistent challenges and stigmas, our 2017 Executive Report on Performance & Agents revealed that businesses are only moderately committed to improving customer experience performance. Businesses clearly know the customer experience is important, but they may not fully appreciate the significance of the customer experience. They need to start; the stakes of the customer experience are very real. There are legitimate costs associated with poor customer experiences and legitimate benefits associated with great ones. Customer Experience: The Stakes are Real Upset customers will take their business elsewhere CCW Digital’s Consumer Preference Survey confirms a very straightforward reality: satisfy your customers, or they will take their business elsewhere. A whopping 62% of customers, in fact, consider switching to a competitor after only one or two bad experiences. Only 10%, moreover, allow for 4 or more problematic interactions before looking elsewhere. The data provides quantitative weight behind the notion that every interaction matters. Customers demand satisfaction from every interaction, and they have little tolerance for failure. Businesses, accordingly, can have little tolerance for imperfection. They cannot gradually steer their customer experience strategy in the right direction; they must immediately work to ensure a great experience at every possible touch point. Some executives may be unfazed by the aforementioned statistic. Confident in the comparative superiority of their products, they see little reason to fear the threat of customer attrition. Customers may want to leave in the aftermath of bad experiences, but will they really switch to a provider with an inferior and/or more expensive product? Believing the answer to be a resounding “no,” complacent organizations feel no pressure to act. These businesses are making a mistake. In the face of bad experience(s), a staggering 45% would switch even if the competitor charged more for an equivalent product. A non-trivial 16% would switch even if the competitor offered an inferior product.
  6. 6. DIGITAL · 6 Only 48% would avoid switching in either scenario. Even if an organization is correct in its arrogant assumption that no competitor will ever be able to offer a more valuable product, the organization still has ample reason to care about the customer experience. 52% of customers will accept a less valuable product in order to receive a higher caliber experience. How many bad experiences would it take for you to consider switching to a competitor? Suppose you’re upset with the customer experience you’re receiving.   Would you switch to a competitor if... 20% 1 42% 2 27% 3 10% 4 or more The competitor’s product is not as good The competitor’s price is higher No - wouldn’t switch in either case 16% 45% 48%
  7. 7. DIGITAL · 7 The cost of a poor experience goes beyond losing a specific customer. These disappointed customers talk, and their talk may very well cause other customers to take their business elsewhere. More than 90% of customers share details about bad experiences with others. A substantial 77% of customers discuss their customer experience woes with close friends, family members or coworkers. A staggering 35% will share bad experiences in online review communities (including sites like Yelp), while 30% will post their negative thoughts on Facebook. Since 76% of customers make purchasing decisions based on word-of-mouth from friends and 66% consider web reviews, the ultimate cost of a bad experience can be devastating. Businesses that underperform are not simply risking their relationship with one customer; they are risking negative exposure before an audience of hundreds, thousands or even millions of prospective customers. Upset customers talk about bad experiences When you have a bad customer service experience, where/with whom do you talk about it? No one (I rarely talk about bad customer service) Close friends/family/coworkers (in person) Review communities (Yelp, etc) Facebook friends/followers Twitter The customer service representative's supervisor/manager Other (please specify) 10% 77% 35% 30% 6% 51% 5%
  8. 8. DIGITAL · 8 The aforementioned statistics offer a wake-up-call to those who carry indifference to the customer experience. They need to take the customer experience seriously, and they need to do so urgently. A fundamental tenet of taking the customer experience seriously involves ensuring agents perform impeccably. When dealing with a rude or incompetent agent, only 16% are willing to look past the situation. The other 84% of customers care. Those customers are more likely to blame the business than the agent. 59%, in fact, hold the organization accountable – the agent represents the business, after all. These customers are not simply upset with the experience they received; they see the poor experience as a brand failure. That perspective, in turn, is sure to have a detrimental impact on loyalty. The other 41% are more likely to blame the agent. The business should not, however, assume it is in the clear in these cases. While the customer may not view the situation as a personal affront from the entire brand, they still recognize the experience as a bad one. They still left the interaction at least partially unsatisfied and are almost certainly less loyal to the business than they would have been had the agent been friendly and knowledgeable. An inquiry into the stakes of the customer experience need not be all gloom and doom. While there are serious costs associated with poor experiences, there are benefits associated with great ones. Customers value brands that deliver great experiences. A healthy 63%, in fact, would pay more for a better experience in some contexts. A still-substantial 25% would pay more for a better experience regardless of product type. Whether they are buying fast food or a private jet, these customers place a premium on a great experience. One bad apple ruins the bunch Customers pay for great experiences Suppose you contacted customer support, and the employee to whom you spoke was rude or incompetent. How would you feel? 16% Let it go - everybody has a bad day 35% Blame the employee - but not the business itself 49% Blame the business - he represents them, after all
  9. 9. DIGITAL · 9 Customers do not simply have a proclivity to complain about bad experiences. They also tend to share great ones. Per the preferences survey, 91% of customers communicate details of great experiences. Customers, the data confirms, are slightly more inclined to talk about positive experiences than they are negative ones. More than 77% of customers share stories of great experiences with friends, family and coworkers, while 31% and 27% post positive outcomes on review website and Facebook, respectively. Not simply havens for complainers, web communities are vessels for tales of stellar service. When the business delivers an exceptional experience, these web channels end up becoming invaluable marketing assets. Would you be willing to pay more for a product that offers a better customer experience? No Only for products based on the experience (like restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, etc) Only for products that are already expensive (cars, jewelry, etc) Only for products that are important to your life (banking, insurance, etc) Only for products that typically require support (computers, phones, etc) Yes, for most or all products 38% 20% 11% 18% 19% 25% Happy customers talk about great experiences
  10. 10. DIGITAL · 10 What Customers Want When given what they want, customers commit their loyalty to a brand. They also become advocates by communicating their great experiences to “real-life” friends and online followers. When not given what they want, customers aim to cease doing business. They consider switching to competitors (even if doing so involves a trade-off in product value) and share damning thoughts with their peers. Businesses, quite clearly, have an incentive to give customers what they want. Their road to success, therefore, hinges on a fundamental question: what do customers want when interacting with brands? Efficiency, Efficacy Reign Supreme While some thought leaders stress the importance of dazzling customers with a magical, incredibly personalized experience, others argue that customers are demanding something far simpler. They simply want their problem to be solved quickly – and correctly. The latter school of thought more accurately reflects consumer preference. Today’s customers are looking for a fast resolution on the first contact. A sizable 70% of customers identify first contact resolution as the most important factor when interacting with a brand; 69% say the same of a fast resolution. Other key factors include the friendliness of the agent (66%), time spent on hold before reaching a live agent (65%) and the agent’s knowledge (65%). Speed of resolution and hold time directly reflect a demand for efficiency. Customers subscribe to the notion that time is money, and they expect organizations to share in that belief. The brand must share in the customer’s goal of delivering the desired information or resolution as quickly as possible. Speed cannot, however, come at the expense of quality. In declaring first contact resolution the most important factor, customers are demanding valid, valuable resolutions. They are not looking to be brushed aside so the agent can maintain his call time – they are looking for a resolution that truly – and sustainably – solves their problem.
  11. 11. DIGITAL · 11 They simply do not want to wait any longer than is necessary for that interaction. Similarly, they are not looking for robotic, impersonal agents whose expertise runs no deeper than the company’s standard scripts and documents. They are looking for the agent to be cordial and knowledgeable – for proof that the agent values the customer, cares about the issue, and truly knows the best way to resolve it. Indeed, the Top 5 factors essentially provide a system of checks-and-balances on interactions. Agents motivated solely by speed may be unable to meet the knowledge, affability and first contact resolution requirements of the call. These agents should not, however, mistake the idea of “connecting with customers” for a need (or excuse) to make unrelated chit-chat and prolong the call. Comparatively unimportant priorities for customers include getting to interact with the same employee every time 16%), receiving an opportunity to offer feedback (26%), receiving an apology from the company (27%), receiving a bonus, coupon or other “make good” (31%), and a personalized conversation (32%). The hierarchy, at its core, confirms the goal-oriented nature of customer interactions. Customers may see value in support from a dedicated agent and personalization, but those factors are ultimately secondary to receipt of a fast, accurate, sustainable resolution. Personalization enhances a call; first contact resolution makes it. The same logic explains why feedback, apologies and make goods are low on this particular totem pole. The previous section reveals that customers want to be heard, so they clearly do care about feedback. Upcoming sections, meanwhile, confirm the importance of apologies and “make goods.” Those factors are not, however, paramount priorities during the actual interaction. The interaction is about receiving information or solving a problem; assessing blame and delivering apologies are not as essential in the given “moment of truth.” Increased emphasis on this goal-oriented approach to interactions may, at least in part, be driven by the rise of low-touch conversation channels. Whereas voice conversations lend themselves to covering deeper issues like blame, apologies and “make goods” (as survey data will prove), digital channels like live chat, mobile SMS and social media are more inherently transactional. They are still conversational channels, which means scripted, simple, robotic answers are generally not appropriate. But they are lower-touch channels, which means they are not particularly well-suited for complicated arguments.
  12. 12. DIGITAL · 12 Which of the following are IMPORTANT when receiving customer service? You receive help from the same employee every time Company gives you a chance to offer feedback Company apologizes to you Company gives you a bonus coupon, offer, credit, etc Conversation is personalized to you Company follows up to make sure everything is still okay Service is in your preferred channel (phone, social media, e-mail, etc) How many times the representative puts you on hold Company responds to your feedback Whether you have to repeat information about yourself/issue Number of times you’re transferred Service is available 24/7/365 How “easy” it was to get the information/solution you wanted Knowledge of customer service representative How long you wait on hold before speaking to a representative Friendliness of customer service representative How long it takes to get your problem solved Issue is resolved the first time you contact support 16% 26% 27% 31% 32% 34% 37% 38% 41% 47% 47% 55% 64% 65% 65% 66% 69% 70%
  13. 13. DIGITAL · 13 By no means are businesses perfect when it comes to customer experience strategy. Customers and thought leaders routinely acknowledge their shortcomings. Business leaders, themselves, even identified weaknesses in conjunction with CCW Digital’s Performance Agents Report. Businesses do, however, have a very accurate understanding of what customers want. In addition to asking consumers to state their top priorities when interacting with businesses, CCW Digital surveyed business leaders on the factors they feel are most important to customers. The two hierarchies are very consistent. In scoring its importance a 4.53/5, businesses identified first contact resolution as customers’ #1 priority during interactions. Given a score of 4.48/5, agent knowledge was labeled the #2 priority. Other high-ranking factors included “effortlessness” (4.29/5), the agent’s personality and demeanor (4.28/5), and speed (4.18/5). Comparatively low-ranking factors included “make goods” (2.47/5), channel spanning without repetition (3.58/5), the opportunity to provide feedback (3.64/5), personalization (3.70/5), and the ability to connect in a preferred channel (3.76/5). They may not be mirror images, but the two hierarchies reflect the same basic approach to customer interactions. Interactions, above all, should involve friendly, knowledgeable agents providing fast resolutions on the first contact. Factors like personalization, “make goods” and opportunities to provide feedback are not irrelevant, but they do not truly make or break the interaction. They are side dishes, not main courses. A cynic may accuse businesses of a self-serving approach to the question. The factors they identified as important – speed, accuracy, first contact resolution – tend to lead to lower operating costs. They have clear benefit to the business. The factors they identified as comparatively unimportant – personalization, make goods, channel spanning – require time, resources and monetary investments. They are less conventionally “business-friendly,” at least in the short-term. Did businesses select the factors they truly believe are most important to customers? Or, did they pick the business-centric options they hope are most important to customers? There is likely some merit to the cynical viewpoint; there are likely some respondents who did adhere to the latter philosophy. The immense alignment between the hierarchies nonetheless renders the point somewhat moot. Since customer demands may change over time, businesses definitely should attempt to assess priorities through the eyes of their customers. Whatever approach they did take, however, ultimately led them to make the right conclusions about what customers want. They know what matters to customers and thus have the proper framework for building a customer service strategy. There may, moreover, be a bigger lesson here. Businesses Know Their Customers
  14. 14. DIGITAL · 14 Feedback about Feedback Businesses generally know what customers want. That knowledge does not itself yield great experiences. CCW Digital’s Performance Agents report revealed that organizations are, for the most part, only moderately successful when it comes to key performance metrics. First contact resolution, as an example, is customers’ #1 priority when interacting with businesses. Only 10% of businesses, however, believe they are “excellent” at delivering first contact resolution. There are other areas in which businesses are not – despite their inherent customer centricity – actually delivering the experience customers want. Customers care deeply about the speed of an interaction, and they hate waiting for a live agent. When made to wait, they opt to complain. They are evidently made to wait fairly frequently. “Wait time before reaching a live agent” is the most common cause for customer animosity; 29% of businesses identify it as their top source of complaints. Other comparatively popular complaint drivers include strict policies (22%), issue recurrence (21%), pricing and billing issues (21%), agents taking too long to solve the problem (16%) and lack of agent expertise (16%). Four of the top complaint drivers – wait time, issue recurrence, agents taking too long and agents lacking expertise – directly align with customers’ top priorities. Customers hope to wait minimally before reaching knowledgeable live agents who can solve the problem quickly – and on the first call. On the one hand, it is therefore fairly intuitive that issues like wait time, issue recurrence, slow service and uninformed agents would prompt frequent complaints. Since customers care about these factors, they are more likely to be upset – and thus more likely to complain – when they do not receive them. Why customers complain Some thought leaders love to declare that what is good for the customer is what is good for the business. The statement conventionally serves as justification for customer service costs. It argues that because satisfying experiences increase customer loyalty (and subsequently increase revenue), businesses have an incentive to deliver the best possible customer experiences. When customers are happy, the business wins. This data puts a new spin on that notion. Great customer experiences do not simply produce long-term revenue growth. They also require efficiency, which can yield short-term cost reduction. Customer centricity benefits the business on both sides of the income statement.
  15. 15. DIGITAL · 15 Which aspects of your experience seem to cause frequent complaints/ problems from customers? Limited support hours Limited support channels Customers have to repeat info when switching agents or channels Product quality Marketing/sales/customer service messages not aligned Messages not aligned between customer service agents/channels Agents cannot explain issues clearly Agents lack expertise Agents take too long to solve problem Pricing/billing issues Recurring issues Strict policies Wait time before reaching a live agent 11% 13% 13% 13% 15% 16% 16% 21% 21% 22% 29% 12% 7% On the other hand, businesses know these factors are important to customers. Despite that knowledge, they are failing to deliver them on a fairly frequent basis. The complaint data further underscores the fine line between knowing what to do and actually doing it. The other two areas – strict policies and pricing – are also intuitive sources of complaints. Since strict policies can directly prevent customers from achieving what they want, they inherently cause complaints. They involve telling a customer “no” at a time when “yes” is the only acceptable answer. Because pricing issues directly impact customers’ money, they carry clear stakes. Customers may overlook minor product or experiential issues, but is hard to imagine them ignoring an unexpectedly – or unfairly – high bill. The heightened stakes breed complaints.
  16. 16. DIGITAL · 16 Insofar as perfect customer experiences are impossible, complaints are inevitable. A business’ strategy for handling complaints therefore plays an instrumental role in the success of the overall experience. Today’s businesses universally recognize the importance of responding to complaints; no organization, in fact, generally refrains from responding to complaints. Nearly 54% of organizations will respond to a single complaint from a single customer. They are even more likely to respond if the same complaint is made by many customers (73% will respond in these cases), if the business is clearly to blame for the issue (67%), if the issue has high financial stakes for the business (67%) or if the complaint is already going viral (66%). When the business responds What kind of customer complaint would make your business take action? (check all that apply) Single complaint from any customer Single complaint from a high-value customer Same complaint made by a few customers Same complaint made by many customers Complaint is clearly justified/the business did something wrong Complaint is trivial but has the potential to go “viral” Complaint has high financial “stakes” for the business Complaint is going viral/being reported on social media None (we generally don’t address complaints) 54% 58% 57% 73% 67% 47% 67% 66% 0% Businesses generally respond to customer complaints, but what does that response entail? For the greatest percentage of businesses (38%), it involves a “personalized message for most issues.” Just under one-third of businesses (32%) actually go one step further; they confirm action has been taken in their response. How the business responds
  17. 17. DIGITAL · 17 Businesses do not simply make it a policy to respond to complaints. They strive to offer legitimate responses. More than two-thirds of organizations actually offer personalized responses, while nearly one-third confirm action has been taken in response to the complaint. In short, businesses take customer complaints – and the need to respond – seriously. A business’ confidence in its complaint management strategy is not, however, confirmation that the business is actually good at responding. Such confirmation can only come from customers. Customers, it turns out, have a lukewarm perception of the responses they receive. Only 5% of customers say they always receive a satisfactory response to their complaints or feedback. Sixteen percent are often content with the way the business handles their complaint, while 37% believe businesses “sometimes” offer a proper response. The other 42% are rarely or never pleased with the response. Virtually all businesses respond to complaints, but they are failing to routinely satisfy more than 40% of complaining customers. The failure may be conscious (the business may not feel all complaints warrant high-effort responses) or unconscious (the business may truly believe it is responding sufficiently), but the point is that it exists. How customers feel When a customer submits feedback or a complaint, how does your organization typically respond? 3% No guaranteed response 6% Thanks customer, no promise of follow-up 6% Thanks customer, promises follow-up, doesn’t always deliver 3% Follows up with form/generic message 13% Follows up with personalized/specific message for serious matters only 38% Follows up with personalized message for most issues 32% Follows up, confirming that action has been taken Others (13%) of businesses limit personalized responses to serious matters. Some thank customers for their complaint but do not guarantee a follow-up (6%), while others thank customers, guarantee a follow-up but admittedly do not always deliver (6%). Just over 3% offer a generic response to customer complaints.
  18. 18. DIGITAL · 18 Proactive Engagement: An Opportunity Per the CCW Winter executive report, only 34% of organizations plan to increase proactive engagement this year. Only 5% consider proactive engagement to be a top priority. The majority of organizations, therefore, are not planning to make notable investments into proactive engagement. These organizations are missing an enormous opportunity. When the experience goes wrong, customers leave. The earlier data reveals that nearly two- thirds of customers consider switching after just one or two bad experiences. An organization can back many of these lost customers. Under the right circumstances, more than 85% of customers would continue returning to a brand with which they stopped working. A proactive bid from the company reflects the most effective of these “right circumstances.” Nearly one-third of customers (32%) say the best way to win back their business is to proactively connect, apologize and ask for a second chance. Customers are more likely to react to that proactive bid than they are to proof that the past issue was corrected (27%), an improvement in product quality (14%) or a reduction in price (8%). Evidenced by their preference for fast, easy experiences, customers ascribe value to time and effort. A brand that takes the time and effort to proactively engage with its customers is demonstrating the extent to which it values those customers. That showing of appreciation goes a long way in righting a customer experience wrong. Proactivity: How to win your customers back When you give customer feedback to a company, how often do you receive a satisfactory response? 10% Never 32% Rarely 37% Sometimes 16% Often 5% Always
  19. 19. DIGITAL · 19 Suppose you stopped working with a company due to a bad experience(s).  What would be the BEST way to win you back? 15% Nothing - you’ll never work with them again 14% They improved the quality of the product 5% They offer more/faster customer support options 8% They lowered their price 32% They reached out to you personally to apologize/ask for a second chance 27% You can tell they fixed whatever customer service issue went wrong in the past Proactivity is not simply effective as a winback strategy. It is also a way to demonstrate a premium-quality customer experience. Twenty-four percent of customers say they would be willing to be pay extra for proactive engagement. By comparison, only 17% would pay extra for 24/7/365 support. Only 15% view a dedicated account manager as a premium component, while only 12% would pay more for service in their preferred data. The numbers should not necessarily encourage organizations to start offering proactive engagement as a premium add-on. The majority of customers will not specifically pay for proactive engagement, and it is possible that those would theoretically would pay would only do so in certain circumstances. The data does, however, reveal the comparative value customers associate with proactive engagement. Since many customers view proactive engagement as a premium feature, organizations that incorporate it into their experiences stand to positively differentiate themselves. Proactivity: Sign of a “premium” experience Would you be willing to pay extra for any of the following? Reduced hold time 24/7/365 support Dedicated account manager Support in your preferred channel (phone, email, etc) Proactive care (they contact you when they notice something might be wrong) No - wouldn’t pay extra for any of these 10% 17% 15% 12% 24% 58%
  20. 20. DIGITAL · 20 Customer management thought leaders may concur that the “call center” is obsolete. The telephony channel on the other hand, continues to endure. It remains the leading customer service channel; 37% of customers identify live voice as their avenue for customer service, while an additional 16% say they most commonly receive customer service through automated menus and/or IVRs. One may be inclined to attribute the statistics to tradition. Because customers have long viewed telephony as the primary contact channel, they may habitually gravitate toward the phone when interacting with businesses. Since telephony has long been the primary contact channel, businesses are more likely to offer engagement in the phone than any other channel (with the exception of email). By giving customers few, if any, other options for making contact, businesses cause the habit to persist. There is surely some truth to this notion of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Habit and convention are not, however, the only reasons why seek engagement in live voice channels. Customers, it turns out, actually prefer live voice conversations to other forms of engagement. If given the voice to engage in any channel they wanted, 37% would choose phone conversations with a live agent. Voice by far ranks as the top engagement channel. Other comparatively popular selections include e-mail (18%), in-person (17%) and live chat (15%). It is important to note that preference for live voice conversations is not tantamount to a preference for telephony. While 37% would ideally engage in a voice conversation, only 3% would use an IVR or automated phone menu. Phone: Justifying its Persistence Customers most frequently engage with businesses via live voice conversations, and the behavior is not merely the result of situation and circumstance. A substantial number of customers would choose the voice channel even if they had a legitimate choice. Why are voice conversations so special? Customers, quite simply, believe they offer unique experiential elements. A whopping 85% of customers will call for the purpose of getting their problem solved quickly. Forty-six percent value the opportunity to communicate their complaint to a real person, while 30% believe a voice conversation is the best way to receive the correct information or resolution. Whether fairly or not, customers do not believe businesses operate with the same efficiency, resolve and accountability in other channels. Why customers call
  21. 21. DIGITAL · 21 Collectively, the previous sections lay out numerous requirements for businesses. They must foster customer experience interactions that are fast, friendly, resolute and accurate. They must manage feedback and complaints in a personalized, actionable manner. They must offer proactive engagement. They must continue to deliver stellar voice customer service while elevating the efficiency and efficacy of lower-touch channels. Save for proactive communication, none of these imperatives are surprising to businesses. Businesses generally know what customers want. They know responding to feedback is important, and they know the importance of omnichannel engagement. That knowledge, as confirmed empirically and anecdotally, is not readily transforming into results. Businesses may be taking action (albeit to a less urgent extent than they should), but they are still not performing as well as customers desire. Business leaders, themselves, rarely identify their customer experiences as “excellent.” Organizations need to elevate their performance. Operationally, they need to ensure they have the right systems. Technology empowers agents and customers to achieve the results for which they are looking. An organization cannot deliver a great experience without the right technology. They also need to ensure agents are in position to be productive. If agents cannot perform in accordance with customer demands and operational needs, the experience will suffer. Performance: Driving Productivity Customers may not like making calls in their personal lives, but brand engagements are not equitable. Customers have clear objectives when interacting with businesses, and they are going to select the channel that best meets those objectives. Other channels exist, but their adoption will be determined by one of two scenarios: } Customers accept them as legitimate alternatives to voice conversations. } Customers believe they are better-suited for simpler, transactional matters while the phone remains the best option for complicated matters. Channel selection will hinge on context. The notion that systems “need to talk to each other” is not empty marketing rhetoric being used to sell integrated platforms. It is a statement of immense relevance in today’s contact center landscape. Disintegration is actually the most widespread technology challenge facing today’s customer experience functions. A healthy 36% of businesses identify disintegration as their top challenge. For 22% of businesses, disintegration is problematic within the contact center. The other 14% believe their issue comes from contact center or customer experience technology not aligning with systems in other departments. Other key challenges include out-of-date technology (12%), limited monitoring and analytical capabilities (9%) and limited flexibility or scalability (7%). Technology Challenges
  22. 22. DIGITAL · 22 Which is the biggest problem/challenge with your current contact center technology? Cost - subscriptions/recurring Security Uptime/reliability Not enough support from vendors Too much data/poor presentation Cost - administration/management Experience for customers Experience for agents Ease of use/learning curve Not enough flexibility/scalability Limited data/monitoring/analysis Out-of-date/lacks modern features Contact center technology not integrated with systems in other departments Too many disparate systems within the contact center 0.5% 0.5% 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 5% 5% 7% 9% 12% 15% 22% The out-of-date and flexibility challenges concern the functionality of the systems. These businesses do not feel their systems are up for the tasks. Technology with limited monitoring capabilities may be acceptable from a purely functional standpoint, but it is problematic in a customer experience context. Businesses need granular insight into performance.
  23. 23. DIGITAL · 23 Customer experience technology has ramifications for customers and employees. Customers rely on the systems to access a great experience, while employees use the technology to deliver said experience. Cognizant of this reality, businesses value the “voice of the customer” and “voice of the agent” when making technology decisions. The “voice of the customer” matters slightly more. On a scale of 0-5, organizations rate customers’ influence at a 4.48. They assessed the agent impact on technology purchasing at a 4.30. Disintegration is the biggest technology challenge facing today’s customer experience functions. It is also the biggest productivity challenge. Nearly 26% of organizations say disintegrated systems and/or channels are the biggest threat to productivity. The finding supports the idea of “technology” being a bottleneck on people and process. An organization can hire the right people, provide the right training and instill the right mindset, but that effort will be for naught if these well-trained, customer-centric agents face difficultly navigating systems during customer interactions. Granted, organizations are not entirely satisfied with their existing training. More than 10% of businesses blame poor productivity on a lack of ongoing coaching and development, which positions it as the #2 challenge. Other comparatively widespread productivity challenges – complicated desktops (9%), insufficient knowledgebases (7%), improper training (6%), and improper performance measurement – generally tie into one of the aforementioned themes. Technology Purchasing Productivity Problems When selecting new CX or contact center technology, how important is the impact on the customer?  Agent? Customers Agents/employees 0 Not important 1 2 3 4 5 Very Important
  24. 24. DIGITAL · 24 Which, if any, of the following are preventing your contact center/CX agents from being more productive? Improper training (on processes) Improper training (on specific product/ issue knowledge) Improper training (on systems) Improper “onboarding” Lack of ongoing coaching/development Lack of real-time coaching/training Insufficient knowledgebase Channels/systems not integrated Calls not being routed to the best agents Scheduling issues Complex desktop Performance not properly measured/ communicated Issues tracking changes in performance over time Poor workflow management 3% 6% 1% 2% 10% 3% 7% 26% 3% 0% 9% 6% 3% 5%
  25. 25. Practicality Guide Dive into concise instructions for big ideas that you can bring back to the office, with case studies, expert tips and practical exercises on a range of customer experience topics.
  26. 26. DIGITAL · 26 Customer management thought leaders repeatedly discuss the correlation between productive agents and satisfied customers. It should therefore come as no surprise that 89% confirmed training as a top strategic focus for the next year. It should similarly come as no surprise that coaching and learning management systems will be investment priorities for 86% and 76% of contact centers, respectively, over the next two years. A company’s belief in the importance of learning is not, however, a guarantee that the company will excel at training. Several common mistakes plague today’s contact center learning strategies. Agents are left disengaged, without necessary knowledge and powerless to adapt based on customer need. They, in turn, struggle to deliver customer satisfaction, let alone increase loyalty and advocacy. Companies invest in agent development to improve customer satisfaction, yet their flawed training systems end up yielding the exact opposite. The resulting experiences are impersonal, slow, inaccurate and inconsistent – the kinds of interactions that prompt customers to leave for competitors. Luckily, there is a way to easily and substantially elevate your approach to learning, training and agent development. Through a combination of refined strategies and intuitive technology, you can foster a more engaged, knowledgeable, versatile and productive workforce. The agents interacting with your customers will be assets rather than liabilities; they will be the kind of engaged brand ambassadors that consistently yield customer delight and loyalty, factors which ultimately lead to higher revenue and profit. In today’s age of customer centricity, businesses that deliver the best customer experiences stand to achieve the greatest success. By following this blueprint for next-generation contact center learning, you will help your organization become one of those businesses. Rethink Contact Center Training, Elevate the Customer Experience
  27. 27. DIGITAL · 27 The most fundamental goal of the contact center function is to deliver a great customer experience. The most fundamental goal of contact center learning and development is therefore to empower agents to deliver that great experience. Given that reality, the first step in creating a great training strategy is to understand exactly what today’s customers want. CCW Digital’s consumer preferences survey reveals the answers. First contact resolution (Priority for 70%): If customers object to spending a few extra minutes on the phone, they surely take issue with needing to call back. First contact resolution, indeed, represents a top priority. Regardless of the time, channel or nature of their inquiry, they expect the organization to provide a valuable, accurate, sustainable resolution. A customer-centric learning and development program positions agents to successfully identify, interpret and resolve the customer’s issue during the first contact. Speed (Priority for 69%): Efficiency is not simply an operational concern. Customers also demand efficient experiences. Wholehearted believers in the notion that “time is money,” customers place immense importance on the speed of the interaction. They expect to receive their desired information or resolution as quickly and effortlessly as possible. A customer-centric learning and development program is one that fosters fast interactions. Knowledgeable, friendly agents (Priority for 66%): Customers have no interest in interacting with lifeless robots who strictly read from a script. They expect the agents with whom they engage to be affable experts capable of delivering accurate information in a personalized manner; they desire a meaningful connection. This demand is becoming especially important amid the rise of AI and self-service platforms. Customers are becoming less reliant on agent assistance for transactional manners; the issues they present to live agents are complex and unique. A customer-centric learning and development program prepares employees for this new customer service normal in which agents are responsible for deeper, more nuanced, more personalized interactions. Organizations cannot simply train agents to parrot back common solutions to common problems; they need to empower agents to meaningfully connect with unique customers who possess unpredictable issues. What customers want 2 1 3 First contact resolution 70% 69% 66% Speed Knowledgeable, friendly agents
  28. 28. DIGITAL · 28 A successful learning and development program goes beyond the what and focuses on the why and how. Why are customers truly interacting and how can the agent best deliver the outcomes for which they are looking? Not built for the “moment of truth”: No matter how thorough the initial training, there will come a time in which the agent lacks the answer. Many learning systems fail to take this reality into account. “When agents encounter a problem that is specific to their company, they either ask a colleague or search a bunch of different internal systems, trying to find the answer,” explains Burt. “More often than not, this exercise costs them a lot of time.” This upsets the customer who is left waiting and negatively impacts the contact center’s overall productivity. It can also be emotionally frustrating for the agent, leading to the disengagement and even attrition that further harm the customer experience. There is nothing surprising about customers’ demands for fast, effective, warm and accurate interactions. Their predictability does not, however, make them simple to attain. Due to flaws in their philosophies, errors in their strategies and limitations in their technologies, organizations routinely fail to cultivate agents capable of delivering productive, customer-centric experiences. Nearly all businesses identify training as an investment priority for the coming year, but their effort – and money – will be for naught if they succumb to these very common, very problematic mistakes. Compliance over practicality: Contact center training is often focused on static information rather than functional capabilities. Worse, it is often directed by leaders from the broader HR function instead of those who sit within the contact center. Agents are taught basic knowledge, rules and scripts, but they are not empowered to apply the learning in an efficient, productive, customer- centric manner. “There’s no denying that training has a negative stigma,” notes Conner Burt, COO, Lessonly. “In many people’s experience, it’s been focused on compliance learning, which tends to feel like some combination of suspicious and patronizing.” Not simply a philosophical issue, the “compliance” mindset is also a time management concern. Managers spend so much time developing “information” training that they have limited opportunity to coach agents on valuable skills Where training fails 1
  29. 29. DIGITAL · 29 A successful learning and development program does not simply focus on what happens inside the training session. It also accounts for the ease of attaining valuable, useful information during the interaction. Not adaptive: When it comes to the customer experience, change is the only constant. Customers will begin to demand different things – in different channels. Certain best practices will prove ineffective, and new ones will emerge. Many contact center trainers are ill-equipped to deal with this reality. Some focus on core, dated knowledge and turn a blind eye to emerging developments and nuances. Others want to adapt but lack a means of efficiently developing new lessons and re-training agents; their option is to “pull” agents from the floor and stick them in a room where the same lesson is taught 6 times. Either way, the training falls behind – and short of its goal to empower agents to satisfy customers. A successful learning and development program allows for constant adjustment and evolution. It is married to the goal of perpetually creating productive, customer-centric agents rather than to the specific lessons and best practices that happen to make sense right now. Not collaborative: In many contact center environments, training is something agents “receive.” It is not something they help create. This approach presents several negative consequences. It makes the training less resonant; without ownership in the material, agents are less likely to absorb all the requisite knowledge. It makes training less effective; agents have no ability to tailor the lessons to their own strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. It makes training less valuable; since agents are the ones on the front lines speaking to the customers, omitting their insight is to operate without a real sense of what customers want. A successful learning and development program enables – and, actually, encourages – collaboration from all key employees and stakeholders. Not tied to performance: Agents should not be trained for the sake of passing tests; they should be trained to become more productive agents. Many training programs – and platforms – ignore this distinction. They view training strictly through the lens of knowledge acquisition and pay no mind to how training is impacting metrics related to efficiency and customer satisfaction. Their “calibration” involves ways to make agents learn more rather than methods of making them better. A successful learning and development program is predicated on performance. It provides the organization with robust insight into the connection between training and key performance indicators. It also allows the organization to make changes that can optimize the connection. 2 3 4 5
  30. 30. DIGITAL · 30 Training, quite clearly, is not perfect in the status quo. Organizations are not enabling agents to quickly, accurately and memorably interact with customers; satisfaction and productivity numbers are less than stellar. These imperfections need not persist. Through a combination of innovative technologies and real-world best practices, organizations can dramatically elevate their learning and development. They can help the contact center function steer away from the aforementioned pitfalls and toward the kind of experience that produces happy agents and loyal customers. “When training is relevant and helpful, it ceases to feel like training and begins to feel like a friend helping your team get better,” adds Burt. “It reduces stress, creates better results, and gives your employees confidence.” The best learning and development programs – the ones that truly foster agent and customer centricity – boast some key features. Engaging lessons: Contact center agents spent well over a decade in the academic classroom, and they are going to spend their days working hard to address complicated customer issues. They absolutely do not want training to feel like school – or additional work. The ideal training platform allows leaders to create lessons that are engaging, media-rich and accessible across platforms. Agents perceive them as a convenient way to get better rather than a chore they are forced to endure. Through a drag-and-drop interface, Lessonly allows leaders (and team members) to create resonant lessons and courses with attached documents, images, audio files and videos. The white-label platform allows the organization to include its own branding. Easy course development: As the business engages with its customers, it will learn how to better meet their needs. Upon doing so, it will want to transform these insights into training material. This process should be quick and seamless. Leaders – and team members – should be able to easily develop new lessons, courses and associated assignments. Not simply the best way to adapt to customer demands, easy course development makes sense from an operational standpoint. Training is supposed to boost productivity; that cannot happen if supervisors are asked to spend countless hours putting courses together. Making training better IN THE REAL WORLD
  31. 31. DIGITAL · 31 Lessonly users assign creator access to individuals they deem experts on specific material. That knowledge is then automated and assigned to the rest of the team. Instead of getting bogged down creating lessons, the team will be able to focus on developing – and applying – the new knowledge. Guidance in the “moment of truth”: Great learning programs do not end once the course is completed; they empower agents through each and every interaction. One notable avenue for empowerment involves intra-call assistance. Instead of leaving agents to blindly navigate company resources (or waste time asking colleagues for answers), the platform provides guidance through the knowledgebase. It intelligently directs agents toward the information best-suited for quickly resolving the customer’s issue – and winning the customer’s satisfaction. “Equipped with the right knowledge, you can quickly and confidently move back to the task at hand, focused on closing more deals, elevating the customer experience, and doing better work,” touts Burt. Call whispering is one way to provide such guidance, but it can be distracting to both the agent and customer. It is also inefficient, as it requires a second employee to join the call. A more agent-centric, productive approach involves the use of low-profile technology: a knowledge GPS, if you will. The Lessonly Chrome extension “recommends the critical information you need to do better work—when and where you need it.” Supervisors are able to map learning material to the websites and applications agents use during their everyday workflow. When users browse these pages, the extension pops up material relevant to the task at hand. It ensures accuracy, boosts productivity and maximizes customer satisfaction. Two-Pronged Performance Management: Agents do not learn at the same rate, but they have the same pressure to perform. The best learning platforms take this reality into account in two ways. First, they provide leaders with vivid insight into how well agents are learning. By showing the extent to which agents are successfully completing their assignments, optimal platforms reveal gaps in the learning process. They demonstrate which agents may need one-on-one attention from coaches and which agents may be best-suited to coaching others. More importantly, they provide leaders with a sense of the correlation between learning and performance. Lessons may make sense on paper, but they are only valuable if they empower agents to consistently satisfy customers. Robust analytics are a focal point of Lessonly. It provides granular and aggregate insight into “training performance,” vividly revealing which agents are getting the most and least out of the training. Through CRM integration, Lessonly also offers an insight into real-world productivity. The organization is able to measure its “return on learning” in terms of customer satisfaction and efficiency. IN THE REAL WORLD IN THE REAL WORLD IN THE REAL WORLD
  32. 32. DIGITAL · 32 By allowing organizations to easily create engaging courses, guide agents through key moments of truth, build team lessons based on winning support strategies, tailor (and automate) knowledge based on specific contexts, measure the impact of learning material on agent knowledge and customer-oriented metrics and align training with the existing CRM system, platforms like Lessonly create the ideal bridge between a learning program and a customer-centric experience. They yield faster, more productive agent performance, greater consistency of support and, ultimately, more customer satisfaction. Not simply theoretical, the aforementioned benefits are readily attainable in practice. “One of the five biggest companies in the world is a Lessonly customer with thousands of Learners,” says Burt. “[Its] senior executives are creating Lessons in minutes from airport terminals.” Several other organizations have also witnessed the agent-centric and customer-centric benefits of incorporating Lessonly into their learning and development programs. In Action: Elevated Training Truly Does Elevate The Customer Experience Vox Mobile Challenge: Since its founding in 2006, Vox Mobile has helped define enterprise mobility. Today, more than 900 companies worldwide depend on Vox Mobile to address every aspect of their mobile technology planning, management, and support. Full Contact Center Integration: If great learning material is supposed to make things easier for agents, it should not be inconvenient to obtain. It needs to integrate with contact center and CRM software. Not simply more accessible for agents, integrated learning material also makes for a better leadership experience. Trainers can assign courses to specific contact center groups, analyze real- time customer insight to revise course material and assess the impact of training on performance. In the real world: Lessonly is predicated on integration, and it shows. In addition to the aforementioned Chrome extension, which empowers agents in moments of truth, Lessonly integrates with Salesforce. Agents can access training material from within Salesforce, and trainers can develop material based on actual customer and agent intelligence. “With Salesforce + Lessonly, your learning content becomes predictive,” adds Burt. “Use business-rule automation to trigger helpful step-by-step lessons as soon as your sales and support reps need them.” Contact center leaders identify integration as the #1 way to drive productivity; great training platforms accommodate that notion. IN THE REAL WORLD
  33. 33. DIGITAL · 33 Birchbox Challenge: Birchbox became an overnight hit in 2010, with its shipped-to-your-door boxes of beauty- product samples. Since then, growth has continued at a breakneck pace, with over 1 million subscribers worldwide. With business booming, Birchbox began efforts to expand its remote workforce. This led to an online training need; in short, Birchbox needed to ensure that employees could stay on top of the company’s ever-evolving processes and systems. Leslie is the Senior Discovery Specialist, Training at Birchbox. When she started, her training role was brand new to the company. She was tasked with ensuring that all new hires were onboarded quickly, with up-to-date information, all while providing continued education to more-seasoned team members. At first, Birchbox’s process-training materials were composed across Google documents. They were, in Leslie’s words, “out in the ether.” Additional training occurred on-site and “the option to train remotely,” said Leslie, “seemed like it didn’t even exist.” To overcome this obstacle, Leslie needed employees to have remote access to organized training materials that she could track. With more than 10 years experience as a professional trainer, Chris Lewis, Vox Mobile’s Director of Training and Quality, firmly believes in instructor-based training. “Face-to-Face interactions are far more engaging, content is better received, and there’s real-time feedback and allowance of questions with immediate answers,” he says. But the team at Vox Mobile really needed a great supplement to their classroom-based training. Before Lessonly, Chris had used other online learning platforms with previous companies—both as a trainer and learner. “From a student perspective, it was a 40 hour class,” Chris says. “It was awful. After 45 minutes I was bored. I was reading the same slide multiple times and still not comprehending it––not because it was complex, but because it was boring. And I clicked through slides as fast as I could just to finish.” As a trainer, his department used a solution with robust reporting—and a high price tag. “The downside, though, is that it was expensive.” Solution Result Vox Mobile first implemented Lessonly for communicating quick client updates within its technical support center. Next, it utilized Lessonly as part of every new client training, and then it expanded Lessonly to other departments and for company updates. Currently, Vox Mobile uses Lessonly for all five of its operations departments and plans to expand it to its sales/revenue teams. “Any time we have to take our techs off the phones, it’s a minimum of 30 minutes,” reports Chris. “By the time everyone gets to the training room, uses the facilities, and gets coffee, even 10 minutes of content gets extended to 30 minutes. Lessonly allows us to disseminate information that may only take 5 to 10 minutes to a large amount of people at one time, with little-to-no significant impact to our service levels.” “Specifically in our environment of the technical support center, taking techs off the floor for an extended period of time has a direct impact on our service-level agreements,” Chris continues. “Simply put, if we don’t have our techs on the phones, we can’t help our end users, and that impacts our bottom line.” Trainers like Chris report that Lessonly increases efficiency in their learning process by 52%, and 90% say that our learning automation software makes their training more consistent and better organized.
  34. 34. DIGITAL · 34 Solution Result: “That’s what I love about Lessonly, you’re able to compartmentalize. I don’t have to track down literally hundreds of different documents or presentations.” Lessonly allows Leslie to effectively train remote employees while also tracking department and learner’s progress. Before Lessonly, Birchbox wasn’t able to track learning retention; there was an assumption that by merely attending training, each trainee knew what they were doing. Leslie wasn’t satisfied with this. With the help of Lessonly’s quizzing features, Leslie can now identify patterns in the learning: “If a whole group misses something, that’s a trigger. It’s like a red flag.” She said, “It tells me there’s something we need to review.” “Lessonly makes tracking effortless. Actually, there’s a lot about Lessonly that’s effortless.” In regards to building out content, Leslie said, “I never thought, ‘I have to sit down to learn this.’ I just did it. It is so intuitive.” Today, with Lessonly, Leslie doesn’t have to worry about gathering training materials in Google Drive and other sources each time a new employee comes on board; instead, she has a plug- and-play, always fresh database of learning content that tells her when team members need to be reminded of specifics. On top of that, Lessonly allows Leslie to provide individualized training programs based on each employee’s learning results.
  35. 35. DIGITAL · 35 Why are customers connecting? What do they want to achieve? What do they hope to avoid? In today’s era of customer centricity, these questions must be at the center of all customer experience decisions. If an organization cannot articulate why a particular strategy or technology will benefit the customer, it has no business undertaking that initiative. This customer-centric mindset has particular relevance when it comes to channel strategy. Instead of viewing channels as locations in which customers choose to connect, organizations need to view them as platforms customers use to achieve objectives. The mindset will ensure the best possible experience; channels will not be halfheartedly “offered” for the sake of giving customers options but wholeheartedly leveraged to give customers a better experience. Organizations that adopt this philosophy will surely recognize – and want to harness – the power of messaging. Far more than a mere communication option, messaging empowers organizations to eliminate common customer complaints and satisfy key customer demands. Upon doing so, the business will enjoy considerable rewards. “A good customer experience provides quick resolutions without customer friction,” explains Gary Brandt, Founder and CEO of TEN DIGIT Communications. “Success results in productivity gains for both the business and the customer, and the creation of an advocate for the company, eventually creating referrals and growth.” This guide reveals why messaging is uniquely suited to delivering a quick, frictionless experience. It starts by revealing what causes customer frustration. It then reveals why certain contact center “worst practices” actually compound that frustration, before sharing eight reasons why messaging will right the ship. Sending a Message of Customer Centricity
  36. 36. DIGITAL · 36 In order to pave the road to success, businesses must be able to identify – and avoid – the issues that cause failure. They need a firm understanding of common customer pain points. By surveying contact center professionals about their most frequent complaints and consumers about their most important preferences, CCW Digital has identified the greatest sources of customer frustration. Wait time: Customers do not like waiting to speak to a live agent. They do not enjoy waiting while that live agent pulls up information about their account. They do not appreciate waiting on hold while the agent consults with his or her colleagues. They do not love waiting as the agent figures out the solution to their problem. Customers, quite simply, hate waiting. Contact center leaders identify it as the #1 source of complaints, and consumers identify it as their #1 issue when interacting with a brand. A business that makes a customer wait is considerably more likely to face that customer’s ire – and then lose that customer’s business. Effort: A conceptual cousin of waiting, effort also drives significant customer frustration. Because products are supposed to “just work” and brand messages are supposed to be “just obvious,” customers are not supposed to require support. When they need to contact the business for assistance, customers are already committing undue effort. A difficult engagement process compounds that effort – and amplifies the frustration. This is further amplified when the customer is reminded that “their call is important,” yet nobody answers. Unprepared agents: Reaching an agent should be a reason for customer delight. It should confirm that the waiting is over – and a resolution is imminent. Reality can be drastically different. Overworked, undertrained, unprepared and incented to move through calls as quickly as possible, agents are often not equipped to deliver the experience customers are demanding. Their language is curt and impersonal, their knowledge is lacking and their attention is compromised. These agents leave customers wishing they had another, easier means of attaining their desired outcomes. The aforementioned pain points carry major consequences; 90% of customers share bad experiences with friends, family, coworkers and/or social followers, while 62% consider switching to competitors after just one or two bad customer experiences. Making matters worse: customer pain points are often the direct consequence of business’ own decisions. Through misguided strategies and improper technology investments, organizations that are aiming to satisfy customers end up frustrating and alienating them. Voice as the centerpiece: No, the phone is not dead. Voice conversations are still ideal for resolving certain issues and desirable for certain customers. They absolutely have a place in the modern-day contact center operation. Customer pain points “Worst” practices
  37. 37. DIGITAL · 37 Messaging is technically one of many means through which a business and customer may interact. It is not, however, a mode of communication like any other mode of communication. Messaging is uniquely suited to the needs of today’s businesses and customers. Not merely a communication option, messaging is a strategy for elevating your entire contact center operation. By making messaging a key (if not your primary) contact channel, you will eliminate the aforementioned “worst practices.” You will remedy the aforementioned customer pain points. Through a myriad of different mechanisms, you will improve agent performance and grow customer satisfaction. A Message of Customer Centricity That place should not necessarily be at the center of the operation. Because it is fundamentally inefficient – agents can only assist one customer at a time – the voice channel limits productivity and increases wait times. It is also an inherently high-effort channel. Voice conversations require substantial attention, thus limiting the customer’s ability to multi-task. The “opportunity cost” of a voice interaction is uniquely high. Voice calls are not native to the web platforms so often used by today’s customers, which means contacting support is not a seamless process. This issue even applies to mobile devices; it is difficult to concurrently use a mobile application and talk on the same mobile phone. Poor user experiences: The experience a customer receives upon reaching a live agent is important. The challenges a customer endures while reaching a live agent are also important. Businesses often neglect the latter reality. They coach agents to deliver personalized, productive conversations, but they fail to consider what happens prior to the interaction. They fail to truly assess – and optimize – the user experience journey. Slow, difficult, unintuitive IVR platforms can contribute just as significantly to customer frustration as cold, incompetent agents. Often, the IVR and wait time can collectively be over a minute long before finding the ‘right selection’ and retracing through the IVR is painful if a customer misses a step. Disintegrated systems: Misaligned platforms are the #1 bottleneck on productivity and #1 driver of agent dissatisfaction. Without a window into the rest of the business (let alone each customer’s individual journey), the agent lacks the insight to perform efficiently and effectively at key moments of truth. “Transferring a call [also] requires customers to re-tell stories to the new agent and often results in dropped connections,” elaborates Brandt. “These dropped connections invariably are lost for good, forcing the customer to start over from the beginning.” This burden of repetition drives dissatisfaction. In today’s omnichannel world, the health of the operation and merit of the customer journey hinge on the creation of a seamless, unified, consistent experience across all touch points. When fragments emerge, customer frustration arises.
  38. 38. DIGITAL · 38 Personalization: Because text messages are tied to a customer’s phone number, messaging allows for a unique degree of mass-personalization. Contact center systems and agents can identify the customer upon contact, thus leading to a quicker, more customized, more effective support experience. TEN DIGIT Communications’ platform ensures low-touch is not a synonym for impersonal. It may be as efficient as any text-based channel, but messaging is also highly specific to customers and their issues. Conversation-oriented, yet versatile: Text-based channels like e-mail and Twitter fail to replicate the value and accountability of a live conversation. Customers cannot determine if and when their inquiries reached a live agent capable of helping. Messaging, on the other hand, is conversational in nature. There is an expectation of instant, back-and-forth responses. Customers therefore receive a “best of both worlds” scenario. They receive the convenience, comfort and discretion of a mobile, text-based channel with the urgency, accountability and directness of a voice phone call or live chat conversation. TEN DIGIT knows that preference for messaging is not tantamount to disinterest in urgency, accountability and human connection. It simply makes it easy for businesses to efficiently deliver the type of experience customers want – exactly where they want it. Channel-neutral: Due to current user preferences and adoption rates, it may make sense to conflate “messaging” with SMS texting. SMS, more often than not, is how customers will message. “Messaging” is not, however, restricted to the SMS channel. (although SMS, because of its telephony ties, certainly has some distinct advantages including, but not limited to, delivery receipts) It is channel-neutral, and its same benefits can be applied to other text-oriented channels. This unique versatility ensures the business can adapt to changes in customer behavior without needing to dramatically overhaul its systems or completely re-train its staff. Channel neutrality also presents another benefit: smoother escalations. Neither the customer – nor the customer’s history – is locked to the messaging channel, which means the customer can move to a new channel (or pause and return to the same channel) without needing to restate key information. TEN DIGIT makes messaging its #1 priority. It is built with SMS in mind, but it can conceivably apply to channels like Facebook Messenger and Twitter DM should those prove relevant for certain businesses and customers. Efficient for agents, effective for customers: Messaging lends itself to multi-tasking. Whereas a voice agent can only speak to one customer or colleague at a time, a messaging representative can interact with multiple customers all while seamlessly receiving guidance from the knowledgebase or fellow employees. Messaging drives efficiency in the contact center. By doing so, it elevates customer satisfaction. Increases in productivity yield decreases in wait times and resolution speed. It takes less effort – and less time – for customers to get help. IN THE REAL WORLD IN THE REAL WORLD IN THE REAL WORLD
  39. 39. DIGITAL · 39 TEN DIGIT is a rare solution that is both good for the business and good for the business. It yields efficiency increases not for the sake of blindly trimming contact center costs but for the sake of making agents more productive, which in turn makes them better-equipped to serve customers. It also brings the conversation into a convenient channel. By interfacing with automations and CRM databases and feeding this information to agents, TEN DIGIT enhances the “Natural Intelligence” of the agent. Native to their lives: In a recent CCW Digital survey, customer management professionals identified “the effortless experience” as the number one trend. Messaging is built for an effortless world. In addition to being a fundamentally easy, convenient way to converse, messaging is native to customers’ lives. It is how customers generally communicate – and the required device is almost always in their hands or pockets. Messaging thus epitomizes the notion of engaging on the customer’s terms. It epitomizes the notion of customer centricity. TEN DIGIT makes it easy to “be where your customers are.” It integrates with major existing contact center platforms, thus adding capability – and customer centricity – without requiring overhaul. It is a low-effort way to reduce customer effort. Contextually appropriate: Messaging offers tremendous convenience and efficiency benefits, but it is not merely a “convenience play.” It is not merely an “acceptable” alternative to a live voice conversation. In some cases, it is the most appropriate – and most logical – way for customers and businesses to communicate. Messaging, as an example, is particularly valuable in a medical context. Customers may be uncomfortable describing their symptoms over the phone or in person. Messaging removes this element of discomfort. It ensures customers will not have to choose between their health and their pride. There are many other scenarios, including nearly all forms of “proactive engagement,” in which messaging is well-suited. TEN DIGIT does not simply add a communication option to your contact center mix; it ensures you are offering the best possible channel for a certain array of issues. Proactive opportunity: Customers value proactivity. According to the CCW Digital consumer preferences survey, a whopping 25% would pay extra for proactive engagement. Messaging makes proactive alerts easy for businesses and convenient for customers. It provides organizations with a low-impact, convenient way of communicating outbound messages. Customers receive the information they need where they like to get it. IN THE REAL WORLD IN THE REAL WORLD IN THE REAL WORLD
  40. 40. DIGITAL · 40 Aligned with what today’s businesses and customers are demanding, messaging carries immense promise. The previous section identifies eight benefits – all of which can dramatically elevate the contact center operation. Does messaging live up to the hype? Numerous TEN DIGIT customers would answer that question with a resounding “yes.” These customers, three of which are highlighted below, have enjoyed increases in contact center efficiency and customer satisfaction. They credit messaging with improving the agent and customer experiences, and they have the results to support their belief. Big Promises, Real Results In the real world: TEN DIGIT opens a line of convenient, effortless communication between the company and customer. It allows the company to communicate information – offers, alerts about system outages or even notes about a specific customer service issue – without adding to its payroll or annoying customers. Ready for omnichannel: Not simply a valuable mode of communication in its own right, messaging fits nicely into an omnichannel operation. By enabling agents to quickly and conveniently handle transactional matters, it ensures voice representatives can devote considerably more time and energy to complex, unique customer service issues. It also allows for seamless integration with other channels. Messaging conversations can be shifted to other media – including voice – as needed. In the real world: TEN DIGIT’s helps organizations deliver a legitimately personal experience. It increases efficiency, which ensures greater staff availability when and where it is needed. TEN DIGIT messaging data is also accessible to agents in all platforms, which means customers can seamlessly escalate to a new channel (and even talk to the same agent). Tier 1 Telecom Carrier Goal: Reduce contact center costs Solution Result After developing a proof of concept, TEN DIGIT deployed its solution across ten sites. In addition to achieving the immediate goal of reducing costs, messaging also drove an increase in customer satisfaction. “When customers start conversations over text messaging, they or their agent can ask to continue the conversation over voice. Unlike traditional chat solutions, the customer is not tied to the browser.” “The history of the text conversation is available to all involved,” adds Brandt. “As the customer is transferred between agents, the history is transferred with them, so the customer doesn’t repeat themselves. Dropped connections are easily re-established using messaging as the coordination. IN THE REAL WORLD IN THE REAL WORLD
  41. 41. DIGITAL · 41 Healthcare Goal: Improve patient engagement Bullying and abuse hotlines Goal: Allow customers to discreetly report abusive behavior Solution Result The provider used messaging to communicate with customers after discharge from the hospital. Patient engagement rates increased, and re-admittance rates declined. Solution Result Text messaging campaigns allowed customers to more privately and comfortably share information about abuse without retribution. Constitutes reported positive feedback to the messaging option.
  42. 42. DIGITAL · 42 These days, our interconnectivity has opened up endless avenues for people to send and receive information. This new digital landscape has given rise to a new level of transparency in business where customers can develop opinions about a product or even an entire company without ever having to set foot in a store. A newfound customer sentience has been ushered along by rapid advances in technology in recent years; now, 40 percent of consumers have multiple digital touch points and devices where they can access information at any time and from any place. This means that businesses are being tasked with creating a unique shopping experience beyond their storefront—it is now imperative for businesses to extend their offerings across multiple electronic platforms. All of the parts have to be there. Whether it’s your website, app, advertising, or customer service, every piece of the puzzle is now thought of as one streamlined experience. This paradigm of business has become known as the unified customer experience: being able to provide your customer with catered messaging and communication for your products and services. In theory, it is now easier than ever for a business to get the word out about itself. On the outset, it may seem simple to do. However, as a result of the many channels there are to navigate, marketing and customer retention have also become vastly more complicated and strategic to execute. To hope to remain relevant in today’s market, nearly every company and business needs to begin thinking in the realm of the unified customer experience. The aim of this e-book is to help you understand the unified customer experience—what it is, what you need to begin, and how to properly execute the strategy. Unified Customer Experience: How To Connect Convert
  43. 43. DIGITAL · 43 What is the Unified Customer Experience? The Right Leadership Welcome to the age of the connected customer. Thanks to all of our computers, tablets, and smartphones, your buyers now have their eyes and ears fixated on every aspect of your business. They are no longer limited to singular channels; a connected customer interacts with your brand across many channels—in your store, online, and on the go. That means that businesses are charged with creating a connected experience that is uniform across all of those channels of contact. And this doesn’t mean creating a one-for-all marketing strategy that blankets over the entirety of your target audience; it means exacting relevant content at the right time for each and every person that interacts with your business. As stated before, this process has become known as the unified customer experience, and it is an integral part of the staying power of businesses today. The idea is simple in concept, but it can be tricky to execute. This is why many in the marketing industry have come to refer to the process of the unified customer experience as a unicorn. Business owners often pose the question, “Is the adoption of this strategy right for my business?” If you are selling a product or a service, there is no question—you absolutely should be implementing a unified customer experience. Even those who aren’t selling a traditional product or service—such as universities and hospitals—should look at adopting this concept. Having a website simply isn’t enough anymore; it is just one part of a grander scheme in order to get people to convert to your service. Why is it important? With 70 percent of B2B buyers’ journeys happening with no human interaction whatsoever, it’s critical that you be able to help your prospects and customers make influenced decisions. Technology has created a new data field that empowers both the customer and the business to take advantage of this. Being able to capitalize on this phenomenon is paramount to success— by the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Before this transition can take place, however, you need to have a keen grasp on where you already stand in the process. Most businesses today exist in at least one digital form or another. They provide a unique customer experience for that one form, but most fail to interweave a complete experience to all points of access. And with customers having access to multiple channels of interaction, this single- channel mindset is no longer viable, so the burden falls onto businesses to adapt to the situation. Ideally, you want to be in a situation where a prospect or customer can jump from channel to channel, with unique pieces of relevant content and information appear to them as they do, thus feeding their business further down the sales funnel. The difference between where you are today and where you want to be is known as your gap. Only under a leader with proper insight can you hope to bridge the gap to reach that end goal. This cross-functional person will be more likely to build a team of other like-minded, cross- functional people. Having a culture of adaptation and progressiveness will be the ultimate factor of building a clairvoyant plan, executing it, and perhaps phasing it out if not fruitful. Once your team has been defined, there are six key components to implementing a unified customer experience: strategy, governance, technology, business process, analytics, and refinement and management. 70% of B2B buyers’ journeys happen with no human interaction whatsoeverissue went wrong in the past
  44. 44. DIGITAL · 44 Strategy Discovery Phase—Depending on the size of your business, it might be wise to begin with a discovery project before you even start to lay out a course of action. This involves working with business leaders to lay out any resource constrictions you may have, and then conversely defining the requirements of the project. The First Steps—Once the project has been defined, you can now start to devise a course of action for implementation. Almost any success in business can be drawn back to an effective plan that considers both present obstacles and aspirations as well as future complications and adaptations to those problems. It is important to draw out the roles and responsibilities of every key player in the project and know that you are putting the company first and not just individual business functions. Focusing on interdepartmental KPIs is crucial to showing the “little victories” and overall value to the endeavor. Segmentation/Buyer Personas—Knowing your target audience and who you are trying to sell to is perhaps the most vital component to your success. Creating profiles or buyer personas of your ideal customer will help you develop relevant messaging to increase your chance of conversion. Each persona you create will have a “hot button” that you will want to address in your messaging. Content/Value Pieces—If buyer personas are the engine that will drive you to your end goal, the content you create is the fuel that powers the process. Content takes many forms— whether it be video, blogs, or white papers, the content is the primary source of information for your prospects and customers. It is highly recommended that you first adopt a content workflow process. The content is the lifeblood to nurturing the needs of your customers, and creating a workflow gives you the ability to edit, promote, and polish content across multiple platforms from a single, centralized place. The good news is that if you are already using a single-platform CMS, you more than likely can continue to use that process. Governance As stated above, the shift to a multi-channel marketing plan can be challenging from a cultural standpoint; you must build a team that is unified in vision, passion, and goals. Additionally, it also takes time and money to break through that innovation barrier. However, when it all comes down to it, success ultimately falls on your culture. To quote the late Steve Jobs, “Innovation has nothing to do with how many RD dollars you have. When Apple came up with the MAC, IBM was spending at least one hundred times more money on RD. It’s not about the money. It’s about the people you have, how you are led and how much you ‘get it.’” Farcer says only 23 percent of B2B marketers today claim to have implemented a unified customer experience. Instead, most marketers are still focused on a single channel, product, or organizational structure. For those already jumping on the train, the lines between roles such as marketing and IT have been blurred in the wake of the unified customer experience. As a leader, it is important to embrace this change and look at your business from a cross-functional mindset; when customer data lives in silos, it can negatively affect a department’s ability to hit KPIs and business objectives. Only 23% of B2B marketers today claim to have implemented a unified customer experience
  45. 45. DIGITAL · 45 Technology Technology is the force that is driving the unified customer experience concept. As a result, there have been a few backend technologies that help create, automate, and make sense of your journey. SEO—Search engine optimization is the ability to attract the right customers (buyer personas) through the use of effective keywords and phrases. Whenever someone searches for something on a search engine, he or she will enter a series of words to pinpoint exactly what they are looking for. It is in your best interest to optimize your content to include these hot phrases so your business is seen first. For many, it’s the foundation into which all applications plug. Marketing Automation—Marketing automation is an essential tool because it automates many of the marketing actions, such as sending triggered e-mail that nurtures prospects and customers. On average, it takes between seven and nine interactions to convert someone into a lead. That’s a lot of work for someone to do when done manually. E-Commerce—Internet-based stores are nothing new, but they are an integral part of the unified customer experience and customer conversion. E-Commerce solutions may not apply to every business, but it does help drive the customer to take some sort of action. Analytics—You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and you can’t know if you’re successful if success isn’t defined. An analytics solution will help you make sense of your data and numbers. Social Media Management—Implementing a plan for managing your social media will be important to sussing out prospective business. It’s also a great strategy for “keeping your ear to the ground” to analyze what people are saying about your industry, company, and brand. Furthermore, social media gives you a platform to interact with your customer to drive sales or to ensure retention. The latter is important here—customers expect their complaints to be addressed quickly via social media, so it is in your best interest to maintain a social media structure that meets those expectations. Business Process Once you have developed your plan of attack and identified the technology that will be key in your implementation, you’ll want to begin cementing some business processes. That is, you want processes that define an activity or set of activities that will accomplish a specific, organizational goal. Here are some examples of business processes you should consider. Deep Integration—Today, all of your various technologies are capable of communicating with one another. It’s a must to recognize that and use this capability to your advantage. By interconnecting all of your technology, information can be monitored and sent across departments in real time to drive informed decision-making.
  46. 46. DIGITAL · 46 Cross-Channel Personalization—This goes back to market automation technology and ties back into the importance of deep integration. You want to be able to build real-time experiences for each individual viewer and persona, but to do this manually would take a massive amount of time and resources. Deep integration combined with automation will ensure your customers, brand advocates, and even your partners have positive experiences with each interaction. Analytics: Behavioral vs. Prescriptive When measuring success, data is king. It helps you understand what you are doing right and, perhaps more importantly, what you’re not doing right. It is the quantifiable measurement of your business. Understanding how to make sense of it all is imperative to the longevity of your plan implementation. In business, you want to be in a place of reaction. Due to its complicated nature, behavioral analysis doesn’t lend itself to a position of reactiveness. Unlike its counterpart, prescriptive analysis leaves no room for interpretation. It’s not enough to show off how many website views you are getting or how much time your customers are spending on your platforms. It’s about how quickly you can draw conclusions that help you manipulate your audience. You can measure things like quote requests, product purchases, or key asset downloads. Management and Refinement The last component of the implementation of a unified customer experience is your ability to adapt and adjust the various moving parts of your plan. There is an ongoing process—it is critical that you continue to test and refine in order to improve your results. A/B Testing—One way to test and improve is through A/B testing (or split testing). When it comes to determining landing pages and what messaging converts more prospects into customers, this really is an effective strategy. It’s good to be in a position where you’re making objective decisions as opposed to what you think might be working. Content—You must also analyze the reception of your content and make changes where necessary. The best way to do this is to look at page views, social shares, and reach of various content topics. Essentially, when you’re able to attribute success at the topic level, you continuously maximize engagement level through the creation of compelling content pieces.