Delivering customer experience success in 2022
As organisations finalise their planning for 2022, what areas should they focus to deliver customer experience success? We’ve already looked at some of the key predictions for the year ahead from our experts in a recent blog. To build on this we drilled down into specific priorities and best practice shared during a recent webinar on the same theme.
The CX webinar brought together expertise from across the industry:
- Emma-Jane McKeown, Customer Centricity Channel Manager at Heineken Ireland
- Steve Morrell from analysts ContactBabel
- Alex Black, CTO at Enghouse Interactive
The participants discussed the key factors behind CX success, using three audience polls to shape their conversation.
1. Understanding the most important factors in driving positive CX
What do customers value most when interacting with organisations? Our audience overwhelmingly choose First Contact Resolution (FCR) (59%) and offering a choice of channels (26%) came in second. Next came a short wait time (11%) and short call duration (4%). 24/7 agent availability scored 0%.
Steve Morrell pointed out that this is consistently in line with ContactBabel research with both contact centres and consumers. In fact, over the last three years there’s been a 12% increase in the importance of FCR for consumers. At the same time other factors have declined in significance. For example, there’s been a decrease of 46% in consumers wanting to be able to speak to companies 24/7. This is linked to the rise of self-service and digital channels such as chatbots. These channels allow customers to find routine answers easily without needing to call or email.
The fact that short call times are becoming less important also demonstrates the shifting role of agents. In the case of Heineken, Emma-Jane explained that during the pandemic they had to change to meet the needs of the pub landlords who contacted them. She pointed out, “our customer service team overnight went from being a team who support our customers to place orders and manage the day to day running of their pubs to a team of agents that needed to be a shoulder to cry on when our customers were at their lowest. We didn’t reduce capacity of our team – we ensured that our agents were there to support our customers with what they needed.”
Delivering this reassurance meant longer calls on average up by 20%, while the number of calls initially grew by 35%. Heineken supported its agents by giving them the time to have meaningful conversations with its 7,000 customers. Moreover, they provided them with relevant information and insight to deliver reassurance. Technology can also help, as Alex outlined, “Agents are powerful when dealing with complex, human-to-human situations. If you can take away routine queries and automate administration it not only frees up agent time, but also their emotional capacity to focus on high value customer interactions.”
Industry figures back up the point that calls are getting longer. ContactBabel research shows there has been an 80% increase in service call lengths since 2004. This is because simpler interactions are dealt with through self-service/digital channels and the remaining calls become more complex.
Offering the right choice of channels is also vital to both meeting needs and ensuring efficiency. While telephony is still the most-used channel for customer service, it is reducing as a percentage of interactions, as consumers switch to digital channels for specific types of interaction. There’s also an economic angle – ContactBabel figures show that answering a phone call costs £5.42 on average, compared to £3.04 for a web chat and even less for self-service.
2. Collaboration is central to delivering CX success
We’ve all seen the growth in using unified communications platforms such as Microsoft Teams accelerate dramatically since the pandemic struck. Unsurprisingly 91% of those polled on the webinar were using Teams internally within the contact centre, with 32% having deployed it for customer facing contact.
The collaboration enabled by Teams helps bring different groups within the organisation together so that they can all work collectively on solving customer problems. For Heineken, customer experience is a cross-functional effort, expanding beyond just the customer service or sales teams. For example, during lockdowns there was greater collaboration with the finance team. This allowed them to better manage accounts and support customers at an incredibly difficult time. All of this contributes to Heineken achieving the highest NPS of all alcohol suppliers in Ireland.
For Alex, the high numbers of respondents using Teams shows the advantages the platform brings. “Teams knocks down barriers between the front, middle and back office. It makes the organisation more responsive and takes away departmental boundaries that stop companies being agile and customer-centric.”
3. Quality and digital top investment priorities for 2022
What technology will companies look to implement in the company year? Responses on the webinar showed that contact centres will be investing in multiple areas:
- 65% – Quality Management & customer insights
- 59% – Digital communication channels
- 47% – Self-service
- 29% – Contact centre software migration to the cloud
- 12% – Video collaboration
The focus on customer insights through listening resonated strongly with Emma-Jane. “CX has to start with a solid understanding of customer needs. In Heineken we call it being customer obsessed. Now more than ever customer needs are changing and evolving at an accelerated pace. So, firstly, it’s vital we are able to firstly hear regularly from our customers about what they need. Secondly, how we are doing to meet those needs and thirdly, what can we do better. Vitally, we then need to action and respond to those needs by continually improving our customer journey and ultimately improving our customer experience.”
The greater focus on the cloud is also a trend that Steve has seen. ContactBabel research shows that 80% of contact centres say it gives them more powerful/extended functionality. 71% agree that it makes it easier for them to make changes. While 55% have seen a lower cost of ownership. Alex stressed that while the cloud underpinned the overnight switch to homeworking, companies need to ensure they have the functionality for the long-haul. Particularly around integration across systems and workflows.
Tips for a delivering customer experience success in 2022
To finish each of the panellists shared their best practice advice for the new year:
- Steve Morrell: “Understand the customer journey, what the customer is trying to achieve. They want to get things done first time with least effort. Base everything (technology, processes, culture) on this.”
- Emma-Jane McKeown: “Ensure you have a way to access the Voice of the Customer and that you use it to continually improve the journey. Look at customer segmentation. Can you use a persona lens to adapt the experience to different customer needs and stages of their lifecycle?”
- Alex Black: “Artificial intelligence gets a lot of airtime and it can deliver a lot of value. However, in many applications it is the tip of the iceberg – knowledge management is the rest of the iceberg. So perhaps a little less focus on AI and a little more focus on knowledge management will help drive better customer experience (through self-service) and better agent augmentation in the contact centre.”
To watch the full webinar and get a deeper understanding of the key areas for delivering a successful customer experience click here.