For today's companies, the importance of customer satisfaction has never been higher. The typical consumer now has more options at his or her disposal than ever before, and all it can take to drive a customer into a competitor's arms is a single bad experience. Additionally, the massive popularity of social media and review aggregators means that individuals can have oversized impacts by sharing their experiences with friends, family and strangers over the Internet. And a customer who has a negative experience is far more likely to complain to others about that incident that someone who was satisfied with the company's support.
So how should organizations go about improving their customer satisfaction rates? There is no single, all-encompassing answer. However, every firm should focus on certain key areas. Among the most important of these is the simplicity of customer interactions. The smoother the path to satisfactory support, the happier customers will be. To this end, deploying high-quality unified communications tools in the contact center should be seen as a top-level priority.
"The biggest customer experience factor was how much effort the client needed to exert."
Several years ago, a Harvard Business Review story introduced the idea of the Customer Effort Score. The article's authors asserted that while many companies see their primary objective in the realm of customer support as exceeding consumers' expectations, this is not the best metric to gauge success. Instead, the single biggest factor when it came to the customer experience was how much effort the client needed to exert in order to receive sufficient support. The easier and faster this process was for customers, the greater their brand loyalty and likelihood to make future purchases.
While it may initially seem that exceeding expectations should trump convenience, there's good reason why the latter is the case. Consumers who reach out to a given company have a very specific problem to address. Customer service that goes above and beyond their expectations may be a very welcome surprise, but support that proves slow, difficult or confusing is extremely disappointing and frustrating. Ultimately, most consumers would choose a guaranteed simple resolution over the possibility of unbelievable support.
This doesn't mean that companies should stop trying to wow their clients via customer support. But it does suggest that streamlining and simplifying customer service should be the bigger priority. Going further, Heart of the Customer recommended combining these two metrics, simply by asking clients, "How did this effort compare to your expectations?" This provides needed context – after all, some particularly difficult customer support issues may require significant effort on the part of the consumer, no matter how streamlined the company's services are. When the client needs to put in more effort than anticipated – that is when the customer experience is truly damaged.
Simplicity with UC
So how can companies minimize customers' effort while providing top-level support? A UC-enabled contact center is essential in this capacity.
First and foremost, deploying UC in the contact center ensures that customers can choose from a range of channels whenever they need to reach out to the company for support. This immediately streamlines the customer experience, as clients can turn to a phone call for relatively in-depth issues, instant messaging for simpler problems, video conferencing for the most complex support situations and so on. No longer will a customer need to wait on hold for minutes at a time to resolve an issue that could have been addressed through a single exchange via instant messaging. Not only does this provide customers with much more control – which will further improve the overall customer experience – but it will also minimize wait times and resolution times.
Just as importantly, a highly functional UC system will also enable customer service agents to easily switch from one channel to another without disrupting the support session. Without such agile UC, a customer who called may have to hang up and then engage with the contact center separately via the alternative channel, explaining the issue all over again to a different agent. That naturally produces serious frustration.
With their inherent flexibility and agility, UC tools can transform a contact center, allowing agents to deliver the smoothest and best customer service experience possible.