Everyone has felt the immediate impact of COVID-19, including those that work in customer experience. However, at the same time the sector is transforming due to longer-term trends, which in many cases the pandemic has accelerated.
The latest Contact Babel 2020-21 Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide, sponsored by Enghouse Interactive, enables everyone involved in CX to track these shifts and respond effectively to them. In our first blog post on the guide, we covered the impact of COVID-19 on CX – in this second in our series we will focus on two longer-term trends.
41% of B2C companies said that customer experience was the main factor in how they competed against rivals, above quality (31%) and price (27%). Essentially, they see CX as key to their success and overall profitability.
This is backed up by growing representation for CX at the most senior levels. While only 18% of organisations had a board level CX leader, a further 53% had a representative in senior management, such as a Head of CX or CX Director. This shows an increasing focus on the discipline as companies recognise its importance to their business objectives. However, many do not have the right technology in place – 43% said that their CX technology was either poor or average.
Companies understand that improving customer experience delivers benefits in terms of both winning and retaining customers and reducing costs. When asked about the main aims of their CX programme 69% of survey respondents said customer retention was their first or second focus.
Just over half (52%) focused their CX improvements on reducing cost while keeping quality high, such as by introducing self-service. This makes it easier for consumers to get answers or to solve their own issues quickly, improving satisfaction while at the same time reducing or even removing the requirement for the involvement of a human agent
The pandemic may have disrupted CX, but as the research shows, the longer-term expansion in contact channels continues. For example, while the proportion of inbound interactions via telephone increased slightly from 67% in 2018 to 67.2% in 2019, 62% of respondents expected volumes to drop over the next 12 months. Just 15% thought that live telephony volumes would increase – with the strongest growth expected in web chat. Over three-quarters (78%) said that this channel would be used more by their organisation, ahead of social media (74%).
Consumers now want to use a wider range of channels, depending on their particular need, and expect companies to be able to cater for all of these. Many contact centres reported that they still have customers that want and need to use letters and fax to interact with them. Essentially this means that organisations need to optimise their approach and ensure that they are both delivering on consumer needs and increasing efficiency.
Companies also need to successfully manage where they invest – for example, while digital channels are responsible for around 25% of inbound interactions, they receive the lion’s share of investment. Organisations can benefit from a balanced approach – for example, implementing interaction analytics offers a huge opportunity for both gaining deeper business insight, improving agent performance and boosting efficiency across the voice channel.
Overall the Contact Babel UK Customer Experience Decision-Makers’ Guide 2020-21 highlights that alongside the crisis caused by the pandemic businesses understand the vital importance of improving CX, but that they are still on a journey to provide the high-quality customer experience that consumers demand. To learn more download the full Guide here.