As digital and self-service channels continue to proliferate and evolve, so do consumer expectations. This has left many organizations struggling to have a strong customer service experience in every channel. Falling short of consumer expectations creates new risks for companies and opens the door for competitors. To keep customers engaged and happy, companies need to set the right priorities for improvement.
To help companies understand how they can strengthen customer experience as well as build brand loyalty, NICE released its 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report, which reveals potential blind spots among service providers and areas for improvement in their digital and self-service customer service options. The findings also underscore the importance of technology that can help brands own and master every step of the digital customer journey.
A Matter of Perception
Company and consumer perceptions of current digital- and self-service channels differ significantly. Despite major growth in customer self-service, businesses still fail to pinpoint what consumers actually want from their digital experiences.
For example, just 31% of businesses currently offer customer service via chat, yet 52% of consumers prefer chat to other channels. Likewise, although 36% of consumers say they would like to see companies make their self-service smarter, less than 11% of businesses are making that a priority. In terms of how consumers get support, 46% of consumers say they first go to Google search, but only 15% of businesses estimate it as the first step for consumers. Businesses must find ways to better understand consumer behaviors for self-service.
Helping Customers Help Themselves
Despite what companies may think, consumers want more self-service options. Yet, the report found that companies are unaware of how pervasive dissatisfaction with self-service is among consumers.
Twenty-nine percent of consumers say they’re unsatisfied with current self-service offers whereas businesses predict that only 13% are left wanting more. Additionally, 81% of consumers say that they want more self-service options, despite behind the scenes businesses believing this number is at 60%, a significant 21-point gap. Proving this demand from the consumer, 95% of businesses are seeing a growth in self-service requests, with 34% of consumers citing faster response times as their number one benefit. The top request consumers have to improve self-service is to make it smarter (34%) – having the ability to digitally address more complex tasks than are currently being handled. Companies must put more emphasis on growing their self-service capabilities in three ways:
- Start with search. Make sure that frequently asked customer service questions are optimized for their brand via Google search (or any other search engine, the first place most customers go for help).
- Publish answers everywhere. Ensure that the same knowledge articles are available through Google plus the company website, and are easily accessible for agents on their contact center desktop.
- Make it easy to get more. Guide customers to get help from an available contact center agent for questions and issues that can’t be resolved quickly via self-service.
Making Time For Digital Investment
Although blindspots exist between business priorities and consumer preferences, companies do recognize the importance of expanding and investing in digital channels significantly in 2022 to improve their performance.
As the most preferred digital channel by consumers, chat is also the top channel that companies are expanding (47% of businesses) and that needs further improvement on the chat capabilities they offer today (54% of businesses). Other top priorities for improvement include service via company website (44%), and the ability to offer higher visibility in search results (42%). Two emerging channels for customer service — social media and mobile applications — are channels where companies don’t think they’re ready to provide service, either because they’re not offering it yet or, if they are offering it, they recognize that service isn’t yet good enough.
The Consequences of Inaction
Poor digital experiences put companies at risk for losing customers fast. Without action, companies risk consumers abandoning their brand. The survey reveals that businesses underestimate how quickly consumers will abandon brands.
Forty-one percent of consumers say that they will look to the competition after just two poor digital interactions, while 25% of businesses predict consumers will leave that fast, believing that it will take three or more poor interactions to cause a consumer to abandon a brand.
Businesses also think the majority of consumers are very satisfied with self-service options, but just 15% of consumers would say the same. Furthermore, 95% of consumers say that customer service has an impact on their brand loyalty, citing easy access to digital channels, online self-service, and professional agents as important factors. Consumers who contact support more frequently are even more likely to cite the importance of digital channels.
Conclusion: The time For CXi Is Now
Consumer expectations are changing more rapidly than ever, leaving companies at serious risk of falling behind unless they can create frictionless digital-first experiences. Customer Experience Interactions (CXi), available through the NICE CXone platform, allows companies to meet consumers wherever their digital journey begins, enable resolution through AI and data-driven self-service, and empower agents to address customer issues effectively. All of this gives brands the chance to provide meaningful experiences that improve customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, no matter how consumer preferences shift.
Read the 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report at nice.com.