The world of customer service has evolved and organisations are now finding themselves challenged to meet post-pandemic priorities that support growth and ensure futureproofing.
This is leaving customers underwhelmed, while investments aren’t keeping up with growth demands and agents are feeling burnt out and undervalued.
Organisations are struggling to meet customer expectations. We know that for 60% of consumers, the pandemic raised the bar on their service expectations and over half feel that organisations still treat service as an afterthought.
We all saw the reports from the UK Institute of Customer Service Customer Satisfaction Index last year where almost a quarter of customers felt that businesses were using the pandemic as an excuse for lower levels of service.
Add to that the increased demand on contact centres, with inbound volumes rising. Zendesk's CX Trends report 2022 shows us that last year there was a 20% spike in global support requests, ticket volume via WhatsApp increased by 370% and more than half of surveyed leaders report increased demand in their products and services – often through these digital channels.
Growing demand for asynchronous contact
There are also increasingly demanding expectations around how customers want to contact a business. Over half of customers surveyed for the CX Trends report said they want to seamlessly continue conversations across channels and 73% want to start a conversation on one channel and pick it up on another.
Less than 40% of businesses report that they can deliver conversations that allow a customer to respond whenever and wherever is convenient and only 42% of businesses can currently integrate their customer service platform with other business channels like Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
This is a significant challenge, which is only going to get worse as customers become more demanding.
As conversational service becomes the norm, customer expectations surrounding the experiences within these asynchronous channels are also on the rise.
Personalisation and contextual service
Personalisation and contextual service has never been more important – 42% of consumers are annoyed when content isn’t personalised, and 68% of consumers expect personalised service every time they reach out.
Almost everyone (96%) attempts self-service channels before they connect with an agent, but there’s always a risk that adding and integrating more channels is increasing cost and complexity.
All of these factors are culminating in overworked and under-supported contact centre agents.
Exactly half of agents questioned in the CX Trends report said they’re overworked and the high levels of attrition in the wake of ‘The Great Resignation’ are making it difficult for organisations to handle increased volumes.
This places the whole customer experience in jeopardy.
Contact centres are seeing turnover rates of 58% and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that organisations that don’t focus on significantly improving the agent experience will suffer far more than those that do.
With agents continually stressed by long call queues and frustrated customers, investment in management training processes and digital tools to reconnect agents are becoming bigger priorities for CX leaders.
The rise of AI and automation
We’ve seen an acceleration in digital adoption and specifically in investments in AI and automation capabilities when it comes to service.
Digital solutions are being adopted up to 25 times faster than pre-pandemic, with more organisations combining human, AI-enabled and digital customer support across all their channels. 52% of companies accelerated their AI adoption plans in response to Covid and over half of organisations are planning to boost AI budgets by over 25% next year.
The number of tickets handled by automation and AI-powered chatbots grew 53% year on year from 2020 to 2021, and nearly two-thirds of businesses now expect the majority of customer service interactions to be automated in the future.
40% of companies that turned on automation and AI between Sept 2019 and Sept 2021 saw a 15% of higher improvement in first reply time. This is particularly significant given first call resolution (FCR) has consistently been the number one factor that impacts most upon customer service and satisfaction.
Customer service is increasingly being recognised within businesses as the core engine for growth and as discussed there are numerous factors influencing how successful, or unsuccessful businesses are when delivering against customer expectations.
Zendesk research has uncovered that a single bad interaction drives 61% of consumers to switch to a competitor, and that leaps to 76% after two bad interactions, so the quality of each customer experience is paramount.
Whilst 74% of customers expect agents to have access to all information relevant to their account and query, it’s unsurprising that there’s 40% higher revenue in companies that excel at personalised experiences.
If you’re interested in exploring ways you can make better use of your Zendesk instance to deliver the personalised, contextual experiences consumers crave, or you’d like to discuss how to incorporate automation and AI into your customer journey in a seamless way, Route 101 can help. Book a free discovery call to discuss your challenges in more detail today.