2021 CX Trends: The Bar for Digital CX Will Rise
Organizations must make self-service a customer experience (CX) priority for 2021 to reduce their cost to serve, increase revenues and, most importantly, improve customer loyalty.
The events of 2020 may have redefined a host of consumer behaviors, but even before the pandemic rewrote the CX playbook, customer desire for self-service options was already rising.
Still, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. We now live in an always connected, digital-by-default world; and this has turned time into consumers’ most valuable commodity.
Don’t Waste Your Customers’ Time
Who wants to wait in a queue to speak to a contact center agent when they could instead quickly resolve a simple issue or find the answer to a question themselves at any time of the day or night, rather than during traditional business hours?
Likewise, what organization wants to dilute the capabilities and reduce the effectiveness of their agents because they’re dealing with the most commonly asked questions and the simplest of issues, rather than focusing their time and expertise on the customer interactions that are going to make the biggest positive difference?
In other words, every second your customers feel they have wasted while interacting with your brand is ultimately going to create a negative impression of your organization’s CX.
All of which is why self-service is set to be one of the stand out CX trends of the year ahead.
Early Adopters had the Early Advantage
Through the course of 2020, as COVID-19 started on its path of day-to-day disruption, those businesses that had already implemented self-service as part of an end-to-end CX found themselves at an advantage.
As contact volumes increased thanks to pandemic-related queries and as contact center headcounts temporarily decreased due to social distancing and shelter in place orders, maintaining, updating and optimizing self-service solutions not only enabled brands to do more with less, but it also helped them sustain and even improve their CX.
All of which means that as we move from 2020 to 2021, self-service has also moved. Self-service has moved from being a nice-to-have to a must-have tool in every organization’s CX arsenal.
Different Names, Same Result
It can be called many things – customer self-service, self-service customer service or customer self-support. Likewise, it can be delivered as FAQs, a customer portal or knowledge base on a website, or an interactive or conversational IVR or AI-driven chatbot. However, the end result must always be the same. The swift resolution of an issue without encountering friction, extra customer effort or the need to speak with a live agent.
When correctly executed, the benefits are big and the returns come quickly. Gartner data puts the average cost of a self-service customer resolution at $0.10 per interaction, compared with the use of one or more live channels on the path to resolution which can cost up to $8.01 per customer, per issue resolved.
What’s more, self-service is a perfect first step any organization can take towards greater digital adoption or even a full digital business transformation.
Understand the Challenges
However, a successful implementation is not without its challenges. Salesforce data shows that globally, 60% of all consumers and 73% of Gen Z and millennials prefer self-service for solving simple issues and that 80% of all consumers with a more complex need expect to use just one live channel and interact with a single representative.
Furthermore, our own research on the topic, gathered during the height of the initial COVID-19 wave shows that 35% of U.S. and U.K. consumers across all age groups (plus 43% of millennials and Gen Z customers) are now active self-service users for any issue.
Unfortunately, because of the sheer choice and scope of tools, services and full solutions available to any organization looking to help customers help themselves, the end result can lead to customer disappointment rather than delight.
A 2019 Gartner analysis of the state of self-service found that on average, only 9% of customers who attempt to solve an issue on their own succeed without also having to engage with a live representative.
Understanding your Customers
However, it’s not just the fact that organizations can be blinded by the sheer number of options available that solutions miss the mark like that. Often self-service is presented in isolation rather than as an element of an end-to-end customer experience.
This is why historical customer data is fundamental to success. Analysis of contact center data and website traffic will not only help an organization identify the most common contact drivers for consumers reaching out to your agents, but can also highlight flaws or friction points in existing customer journeys that, through a simple fix could also reduce inbound calls.
Self-Service Does Not Exist in Isolation
The goal of any self-service solution strategy is to optimize the performance of existing channels and to improve overall CX. It should never be seen as a way of eliminating channels or of simply providing yet more customer touchpoints.
For this reason, the issues to prioritize with an initial self-service roll out are those that are simple and consistent – resolutions that always require the same answer or access to the same information, whether that’s a how-to video, a passage in a knowledge base or a response from a chatbot.
This is also why the resolution journey must be clearly defined and understood before deployment. If a customer starts to move down a self-service route only to discover the issue is more complex and another option is required, the customer needs to be able to seamlessly move into another channel and towards resolution. Reducing customer effort is the key metric for increased customer loyalty.
Self-Service Serves Everyone’s Needs
With access to the right expertise and with the right solution in place, Self-Service is a win-win. Customers have access to the answers or information they need, whenever and wherever it’s needed.
Contact center agent productivity and engagement increases as there is no longer the need to constantly handle the same issues over and over again. Instead, your people are liberated and can focus on resolutions where emotion and empathy are as important as providing the right response.
And organizations can reduce their total cost to serve, gain greater customer insights and improve their CX while taking their first steps towards a full digital transformation.
Expert Self-Service Support
To unlock all of these benefits and to ensure organizations can continue aligning with their customers no matter how their needs evolve or how the business grows, we created our Enterprise Experience Platform, EXP+™. EXP+ is a flexible solution with complete cloud capability, designed to simplify the delivery of end-to-end customer experience (CX) services, while boosting efficiency, effectiveness and customer satisfaction.
EXP+ blends best-in-class technologies with global leadership in end-to-end CX management and delivery to unlock the greatest business value in the shortest time frame.
This platform is key to ensuring a self-service solution can be properly and seamlessly integrated into a business and through its modular design. It gives organizations everything they need to begin and then continue on their journey towards digitalization, without leaving their people or their customers behind.