Janice Rapp, Director of Product Marketing at NICE inContact, explored the disconnect between consumers and businesses – and what can be done to bridge this gap – during her presentation to Argyle's CX membership at the 2017 Customer Experience Leadership Forum in San Francisco on December 14. In her presentation, "Your Customer Service Isn't As Effective As You Think It Is," Rapp examined the results of a research study that was used to evaluate business and consumer perceptions relative to quality customer service across various channels.
According to Rapp, there is a significant disconnect between business and consumer perceptions of customer service. Whereas businesses often believe they are delivering excellent customer service, consumers disagree. In fact, consumers frequently believe companies struggle to provide consistent support across multiple channels – something that may cause businesses to fall behind their rivals in a highly competitive global marketplace.
"Businesses tend to rate themselves higher (for customer service)," Rapp said. "And businesses perceive that they are doing better when they offer more channels."
In addition, the gap between business and consumer perceptions relative to customer service extends into the realm of self-service.
Businesses generally believe they are providing customers with top-notch self-service options. Comparatively, consumers typically provide subpar ratings to companies relative to self-service.
In terms of customer service, consumers prioritize self-service options, along with personalized support and proactive assistance from businesses. If companies understand exactly how consumers view customer service, these businesses can discover the best ways to use customer service to foster long-lasting customer engagements.
"Customers want self-service, personalization and (businesses to be) proactive," Rapp indicated. "Virtually every consumer wants to be guided to the right channel. They want a transaction that will … bring them nearer to resolution."
Although many businesses strive to provide customer service across multiple channels, most companies fail to achieve the best-possible results.
"Instead of putting it all out there and trying to do it all, it is better to pick the right channels … and ensure they fit customers' needs."
Merely providing customers with the opportunity to connect with a brand across a specific channel is insufficient. Instead, businesses must explore ways to deliver outstanding experiences – regardless of channel. If a company can foster partnerships with customers across many channels, this business may be able to differentiate itself from the competition.
"Customers want to have their issues and questions resolves quickly and easily," Rapp noted. "We really need to analyze different channels and why they're not working."
Moreover, IVR systems may prove to be exceedingly important to companies in the foreseeable future.
With IVR systems, organizations can automate many standard customer service processes and transactions. These systems also enable organizations to enhance their customer service without significant time and resource investments.
"IVR is a way to save money … if we can deliver IVR that is proactive and personalized," Rapp said.
Expect Millennials to redefine the customer service landscape in the years to come.
The Millennial generation demands fast, efficient customer service, regardless of channel or location. As organizations search for ways to stand out from the competition, finding ways to keep pace with Millennials will be paramount for organizations of all sizes and across all industries.
"Millennials expect companies to raise the bar," Rapp said. "They're motto is, 'Know me, be proactive and let me choose my channel.'"
Social media is becoming a top priority for many organizations, yet Facebook, Twitter and other social networks rarely provide customers with their desired results.
"Customers want self-service, personalization and (businesses to be) proactive."
Many social networks help consumers bring visibility to customer service issues. At the same time, social networks sometimes make it tough for customers to get the support they need to resolve a customer service problem.
"If you don't use [a channel], it's not going to be a preferred channel," Rapp stated. "Many consumers see social media as too public … and it doesn't allow consumers to properly state what their problem is in detail or provide a clear answer."
The ability to provide high-quality customer service on a particular channel can make a world of difference for any company, at any time.
"Customers place the highest priority on a channel working for them," Rapp indicated. "Instead of putting it all out there and trying to do it all, it is better to pick the right channels … and ensure they fit customers' needs."
Of course, phone calls still remain popular choices for consumers to connect with brands.
Voice communications may serve as a "basic" customer service option. But organizations that can get the best-possible results from their voice communications with customers can provide customers with the support they need, precisely when they need it.
"We might want to go back to the basics … and optimize our voice channels," Rapp pointed out. "Identifying major areas of improvement – if it works and is done right – can make your customers happy."
Janice Rapp, Director of Product Marketing for NICE inContact, began her technology career working with first-generation CRM solutions. She has led teams in the product management, employee engagement, and recruitment industries. During her four years with NICE inContact, Janice has successfully developed programs to communicate the value of a unified, cloud contact center solution in achieving digital transformation and customer experience objectives. Janice loves her role as a contact center technology translator, dogs, and people who are good storytellers.