It Should be a No-Brainer: Online Customers Want Better Experiences

Is it “Amazon or bust?” It certainly has been for a number of businesses.

The online shopping trend has been cannibalizing the sales of brick-and-mortar stores for quite some time now, as the last decade has seen major retailers such as Borders and Circuit City fold under competition from online retailers, even as others (Best Buy, for one) struggle to reinvent themselves in a “brave new world.”

This article originally appeared on the LiveLOOK blog, and is reprinted with permission.

Shopping at physical storefronts is still the primary way that consumers browse for and buy goods from their favorite brands, but they like the ability the Internet affords them to do extensive research about specific items and choose from wider selections of inventory. There’s only so much shelf space, and not many employees on the sales floor have in-depth knowledge of all the products they sell, if they can even help you locate everything.

Even with these seemingly baked-in opportunities awaiting online retailers, there are still some fumbles going on in the customer experience.

Online shoppers struggle regularly

While retailers aim to make their websites easy for consumers to navigate and buy items, more people encounter problems with ecommerce processes than decision-makers may think.

Eighty-three percent of customers require brands to guide them through their online purchases, according to Business 2 Community and Invesp. In addition, 89 percent of shoppers have left retail websites due to poor customer service, suggesting that companies’ support strategies must be finely tuned for success the digital age.

Customers have high expectations for ecommerce support platforms, which don’t always deliver. Thirty-one percent of customers with questions or concerns want to be helped immediately when they log on, while 40 percent expect to be in contact with a representative within five minutes.

Brands need to make themselves constantly available to meet consumer demands. Customers who experience poor service are reportedly twice as like to tell others about a business’ shortcomings than those who enjoyed their interactions.

Related article: Online Retailers Strive to Overcome Integration Challenges

Today’s customers want it all – and now

Not only do consumers in the digital era expect their questions to be answered quickly and accurately, but there is also a growing demand for integrated services across a range of platforms.

While 61 percent of consumers still turned to call handling as their primary channel of communication with companies, newer platforms are quickly catching up with this standby. Customer support email was chosen by 61 percent of shoppers as their preferred method, while 57 percent found live chat to be the most helpful.

The data speaks for itself: Online retailers must adopt the latest customer service technology as they can’t afford to miss out on opportunities and fall behind their competitors.

Most customers have an idea of what they expect from brands with regard to ecommerce support, but what is the most important component of service today?

Eighty-two percent of survey respondents cited quick issue resolution as the top element of a great customer experience, while 56 percent thought that resolving the problem in one interaction was the most vital component.

In addition to answering speed and efficiency, companies should work on keeping their customer-facing staff engaged and enthusiastic, as 45 percent of respondents said that friendly service reps were a crucial part of any memorable support experience.

Brands must hone their craft

With such a diverse array of consumer expectations facing brands today, it can be overwhelming for decision-makers to figure out where their support strategies are lacking, which is why BizCommunity suggested that managers seek feedback from both their target audiences and service representatives.

With a better idea of a brand’s strengths and weaknesses regarding the customer experience, leaders can make a more directed effort at improving aspects of their support that lag behind.

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Get out of the Queue: Drive Your CX with Attribute Matching

At this point, nearly every company is working overtime to realign around two simple words: customer experience (CX). So much so that nearly 90% of companies now compete solely on CX—a drastic increase from 36 % in 2010—and 50 % of consumer product investments are expected to be redirected to CX innovations—like attribute matching—by the end of this year.

But what exactly does the CX consist of, especially in today’s new world of digital business innovation? This next-generation CX is supported by several advanced technologies—big data analytics, omnichannel, automation—however, these investments are all aimed at driving one thing: contextualization.

The rise of contextualized service—the ability for companies to not only gain insightful information about their customers but also deliver information in a way that is relevant and meaningful to customers based on individual circumstances to improve their experience—has evolved the CX to a point where it looks virtually nothing like it did as recently as 10 years ago. Whereas consumers once primarily focused on the act of purchasing, driven by such things as product quality and price, they now focus on the richness of brand relationships, driven by the personal value that companies deliver throughout the customer journey. Just consider that 70% of buying experiences are now based on how customers feel they are being treated. This is the key factor that sets apart market leaders like Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Apple from the competition.

According to Accenture, there is an estimated $6 trillion in global revenue up for grabs due to dissatisfied customers constantly switching providers. The ability for companies to offer contextualized service is vital for operating at the speed of the consumer and capturing more of this market share. There’s just one thing preventing companies from seizing this limitless potential: the traditional call queue.

Every customer is familiar with the call queue. This is the place where statements like, “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold,” and “Let me transfer you to a specialized team who can help you with that” perpetually live. It’s where exhaustive efforts to route customers to the correct service rep become lost, or where consumers must repeat the same information to multiple agents across different teams. It’s the greatest barrier preventing companies from being more dynamically connected to their consumers, and one of the greatest reasons why customers reduce their commitment to a brand.

Driving Contextualization with Attribute Matching

In a world where customers demand a profound level of connection and transparency, organizations can no longer support a contact center environment in which calls are distributed among agents who are organized by function (i.e., sales, service, support). In today’s smart, digital world, companies must transform the traditional call center into an integrated, digital communications hub. This means moving away from a siloed, metric-driven queue and instead working to put customers in touch with the best organizational resource depending on their exact need or circumstance as immediately as possible. The most effective way to achieve this is to migrate from archaic infrastructure towards an integrated, agile, next-generation platform built on open communications architecture.

Open communications architecture allows organizations to seamlessly collect, track and share contextual data across various teams, processes, and customer touch points. This integrated environment supports a real-time data repository from which businesses can pull from to route customers based on needs beyond traditional characteristics (like language preference). Rather, the technology allows companies to build customized learning algorithms that drive anticipatory engagement, enabling them to match customers based on next-level variables like personality, emotion and relatability.

Imagine, for example, a hotel routing a customer directly to an IT staffer after seeing that the person tweeted about a poor in-room Wi-Fi connection. Imagine a bank being able to route a customer to a money management expert after seeing that the last five questions asked via live chat were about account spending. Imagine an athletic apparel company matching a customer with an agent who is an avid runner after noticing that the individual recently signed up for a 5K.

The future of the CX means creating and continually building a contextualized view of customers throughout their entire brand journey. It means going beyond customer service to establish unparalleled, organization-wide relationships. It means transforming peoples’ lives, verses simply answering questions. This is what companies must work to align themselves with. The good news is that technology has evolved to a point where they can now easily, effectively and cost-efficiently do so.

Interested in learning more or getting beyond the queue to Redefine Your Customer and Employee Experiences? Contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Three Attributes that Lead to Great Customer Satisfaction

We all know that customer satisfaction dictates success in business. You’ve heard it all before: CSAT scores help determine likelihood of future purchases, customer turnover, branding, and differentiation from your competition. What are you doing now to raise your company’s CSAT scores? What are the biggest pain points you’re trying to solve?

Three CSAT Attributes

Personally, I am happy with a company if our interactions have these three qualities:

  1. It’s easy. I want it to be easy to find the answer to my questions on the website. Why should I buy X vs Y? Which one fits my needs? If I can’t find the answers on my own, I want to talk to a human quickly. I get very impatient when I have to search for how to contact a company.
  2. There’s a multi-touch experience with subject matter experts. When I do reach a human—whether it’s through chat, phone or video—I want that person to be an expert and answer my questions, without having to ask one of their peers. They should know what products I am looking at before we start interacting.
  3. There’s a proactive element in the service. I love it when an agent takes initiative and suggests a solution that I hadn’t thought of. “I know you’re looking at X and Y, but based on the needs you just described to me, I think you should consider solution Z.”

Given all of the budget pressure and changing customer needs, a company needs laser focus on improving customer satisfaction. It takes strategy and execution to transform people, processes and technology. And it takes patience!

Avaya’s Customer Service Success

Northface ScoreBoard Award
At Avaya we have been transforming customer service over the last several years. Our CSAT scores have been rising each year. In 2016, once again our customers gave us an all-time high score with 95% rating in the excellent, very good, and good categories. Customers said we improved support services performance by 8% since 2015 in Web Effectiveness, Web Quality of Documentation on support.avaya.com, and in Web Search Function. For the fourth consecutive year, we’ve been awarded the NorthFace ScoreBoard AwardSM in recognition of achieving excellence in customer service and support.

 

The detailed and transparent opinions our customers give us through direct conversations and surveys drive our strategy. We are focused on providing proactive support. We use data gathered from client satisfaction surveys, service requests, and historical customer design issues to identify potential risks and resolve the issues before customers even know about them. We’ve launched an updated Avaya Healthcheck tool to provide a simple, fast, and easy way to help keep Avaya solutions running at peak performance.

Avaya’s Continuous Improvement Approach

Today, our customers don’t have to repeat any information as they move from a web interaction to a live agent. We assign service requests based on attribute matching. In the future, we’ll know if a customer has been to a particular product hub site, if they’ve viewed Knowledge Base documents, or if they’ve gone to pages to manage their service entitlement. The live agent will see these actions in their workspace as part of the customer journey—a true multi-touch experience.

And that’s not all. We know data breaches are top of mind for all organizations. When we connect to your company via our Secure Access Link to deliver mission-critical support, not only do we resolve your issues 42% faster but you will have the control you need to make sure your company is protected.

Responding to customer feedback is critical to competitive differentiation. We keep striving to give our customers the best and we are thrilled when we receive feedback like this: “The skill set demonstrated by the Avaya Support engineer in resolving the issue was timely and precise, rare commodities in most industries.”

But our work is never done. We’ll keep surveying our customers to see where we need to make things easier, improve performance, and be more proactive throughout our customers’ journey with us. Our services and solutions are about helping other businesses do the same.

How Do You Create a Tech-Driven Guest Experience?

Hospitality, one of the world’s most prevalent and influential industries, is using tech-driven guest experiences to boost success. In addition to the usual business trips and family vacations, hotels are a staple for everything from weddings to global conferences to concerts and shows. At resorts, hotels, casinos and cruises, billions of people worldwide book reservations every year, each expecting a guest experience that goes above and beyond the norm.

Hospitality leaders are largely responsible for ensuring that experiences do in fact meet and exceed guest expectations. Nearly 90% of companies today compete solely on the basis of the customer experience, and that certainly includes hotel entities. The guest experience is everything—especially in a smart, digital world where consumers’ demand for speed, agility and quality are at an all-time high.

Guests are focusing less on room service and bell boys and more on 24×7 virtual concierges and personalized mobile travel guides, which proves that the tech-driven guest experience has arrived. In a recent Information Age article, Avaya UK Managing Director Steve Rafferty explores the transformative power of a mobile app for delivering a truly custom—even predictive—guest experience. In Rafferty’s much-needed discussion about the ever-evolving hospitality industry, he concludes that “technology, customized for the hospitality industry and backed by solid in-person service, can help hoteliers today to deliver the superior and personalized experiences their guests expect.”

This leaves just one question: how can hospitality leaders go about creating this tech-driven guest experience, specifically through infrastructure investments and/or upgrades?

Many organizations have proven that a next-gen guest experience is very possible to achieve. The Rotana Group, an international hotel and entertainment chain, uses advanced contact center and IP solutions to enable secure and seamless communications across its properties worldwide, supporting a more 360-degree guest experience.

Three Ways to Create a Tech-Driven Guest Experience

So, as a leader or IT decision maker within the hospitality industry, how can you proactively address your guest’s needs with the right technology? Here are three significant ways a customer engagement platform can help drive the desired guest experience:

  1. Innovate at the first point of contact.

    There’s no denying that for most guests, the first point of contact is a hotel’s web site. A 2015 study conducted by Expedia found that consumers visit an average of 38 websites before booking a reservation. Overall, travelers tend to double the time they spend surfing the web the week before booking. Needless to say, there’s plenty of opportunity for hoteliers to elevate guests’ web experiences with the right technology.

    How? As opposed to offering guests a web form (or worse, a dreaded 800 number), you can offer guests live chat support via WebRTC. Of course, guests should also be able to easily escalate their live chat session to voice if needed—and from there to video chat or screen sharing for particularly complex reservations or issues. A customer engagement platform created on an open, extensible architecture lets you support this dynamic environment with the ability to create apps that customize and extend your call center. This can help you to create new points of differentiation, or change them as you see fit. So you can ensure a stellar guest experience from the first point of contact onward.

  2. Improve resource matching.

    Front desk workers must skillfully handle calls from families, school groups, business travelers, wedding planners, convention planners, language specialists, and more. With hotels becoming more dynamic by the minute, the need for improved resource matching is vital. This means ensuring callers can be quickly and intelligently routed to the right subject matter experts—regardless of where they reside within the organization—based on rich context, KPIs and organizational goals across all channels.

    An advanced customer engagement platform tracks guest conversations and consolidates customer data across all of these channels (i.e., web, mobile, contact center), creating a real-time data repository for hotel workers to track, collect and share relevant information across teams, processes and customer touch points. This ensures callers will always be paired with the best subject matter experts available. Additionally, this allows agents to focus on callers’ needs without having to ask for the same information multiple times (which, as we all know, is a huge customer frustration). Above all, the technology helps to deliver more consistent and meaningful experiences at the individual guest level.

  3. Enhance the mobile UX.

    Research shows that more than 75% of travelers consider their smartphones to be critical. Additionally, about 1 in 3 people use their smartphones more when they travel than they do at home. As Rafferty explained, mobility is a key way for hoteliers to capitalize on guests’ needs and deliver the experiences they’re looking for.

    There are many ways mobility can be strategically leveraged. For example:

    • Use Wi-Fi location services to recognize when guests arrive
    • Push notifications to alert guests of changes to their stays
    • Use mobile room key authentication, verses a swipe card, for added day-to-day convenience

Perhaps most importantly, hoteliers must offer guests a sophisticated and integrated mobile app experience. This experience should include such things as seamlessly integrated self service and callback options, something that a customer engagement platform easily supports.
Mobility is not only advantageous for usage with guests’ mobile phones—it also addresses a need for staff to be mobile. For example, as mentioned in the point above, callers must be routed to the right subject matter experts regardless of where they reside within the organization. Mobility helps ensure subject matter experts are accessible, wherever they happen to be located on the property, for handling both guest inquires as well as internal operations.

Technology is changing the hotel guest experience. There’s ample room for innovation within the industry, and there’s a way to efficiently, securely and flexibly enable guest experiences that continually exceed expectations. How does Avaya know for sure? Avaya supplied the technology that transformed the Wynn Hotel, the Rotana Group, and many other world-renowned hospitality organizations. A customer engagement platform built on open, extensible architecture gives you an open scope, meaning anything is possible in terms of the guest experiences you want to deliver.