Digital technology is everywhere, and consumers use it non-stop every day—to work, to play, to communicate, to shop. So it’s only natural that these same consumers expect to have digital channel choices in contact centers, too. To win customers’ loyalty, organizations must connect with them in the digital world they’re already living in, providing engagement with the brand on their terms. In the contact center, this means adopting a digital-first philosophy and approach.
Digital has far-reaching implications not just for how organizations provide service today, but also for how much more change is coming in the very near future. Those who “win” customer service will need to completely reimagine it—and digital will be central to that.
Digital preference is gaining momentumAs digital communication has exploded around us, it has surged to a level that’s every bit as familiar as voice and is now preferred by most consumers. Not only do they want digital options, but the great majority prefer digital’s ease, convenience and speed. The statistics tell a generational story:
- 90% of Gen Z use digital channels as their channel of choice, with only 10% choosing voice.
- 84% of Millennials prefer digital channels, with only 16% preferring voice.
- Nearly half of GenX (49%) prefer digital channels as their channel of choice. The other half prefer voice but their numbers are diminishing.
- Only Boomers may still opt for voice over digital—and that’s rapidly changing.
Consumers’ voices are loud and clear: They like digital communication, they’re using it 24/7—and yes, they are demanding digital options for interacting with the brands they patronize. But contact centers aren’t necessarily on board: While digital channels offer unique value to both brands and consumers, companies have not yet embraced the digital channels their customers have welcomed into their lives. In fact, less than 10% of contact centers surveyed have a fully integrated channel strategy: Just 8.4% have all channels connected, while only 7.2% have an integrated omnichannel strategy that blends digital and voice. (Dimension Data / CX Benchmarking, 2019).
Where’s the disconnect between brands and consumers when it comes to digital-first CX?
While it’s true that many contact centers may be adding web chat here or SMS texting there, that’s still a far cry from fully incorporatng digital choices into contact center offerings. To meet customer expectations and be optimally effective, contact centers must adopt an integrated digital /voice strategy which gives customers choices in digital channels (rather than providing them as an afterthought), and then optimize the total experience. And yet—58.5% of organizations say their channels are managed in silos with different management agendas.
Digital facilitates cross-channel interactions
A fully integrated digital/voice contact center strategy provides other critical benefits, too. One is “channel hopping”: Customers expect smooth hand-offs from one channel to another and seamless cross-channel interactions, especially if they pause or leave an interaction on one channel and want to pick up where they left off on another.
Digital messaging options and seamless channel hopping save time and effort for customers—and can for agents, too. Moving easily from channel to channel reduces customer effort, improves efficiency significantly in the contact center, leads to stronger agent performance and most importantly, drives higher customer satisfaction.
But reality hasn’t quite caught up. According to the NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark, although 91% of consumers expect a seamless cross-channel contact center experience—92% are unhappy with how that happens (or doesn’t) in actual interactions. It’s a key source of customer frustration and one with tangible consequences: Nearly 50% of customers say they will stop doing business with a brand that frustrates them. And only 32% of those customers will contact the company to complain before taking their business elsewhere.
Problem resolution: Digital a fit for complexityAnd then there’s the issue of problem resolution. Contact centers report seeing an increase in both the volume and complexity of customer interactions. Since 2017 the percentage of businesses that rate phone interactions on resolving customer problems very successfully has decreased significantly – from 63% in 2017 to 53% in 2018 among businesses in the US (NICE inContact 2019, CX Benchmark).
Here, too, digital channels—email, web chat, SMS text and even social media—are shown to be much more effective—and preferred—channels for all but the most simple problem solving. Details are conveyed and captured more efficiently—and effectively—improving the entire problem-solving process for customers and agents alike. Customers want the fastest resolution possible and they don’t want it to be difficult; agents, too, are looking to deliver the fastest resolution.
Contact center operations also benefitThe benefits of a “digital-first” contact center strategy extend to the contact center itself in terms of both improved efficiencies and reduced costs. Fully integrated digital channels save time and effort for everyone, improving contact center efficiencies along with agent productivity and performance. Digital channels enable agents to readily handle more interactions—often simultaneously—which ultimately saves the cost of adding more agents as contact volume grows. Digital channels add scale to contact centers at a fraction of the cost of new agents.
Reduction of costs can occur in three distinct areas:
- Capital expenses – By choosing a solution that is rightsized for your contact center needs; offers you the ability to easily test and deploy advanced features.
- Operating expenses – Doing more with less allows agents to solve customer issues simultaneously on multiple channels.
- Personnel costs – By improving agent productivity, there’s less need to expand the workforce.
The (digital) road aheadAs mentioned earlier, digital has far-reaching implications, now and in the future, and is reshaping our vision and customer service and CX.
NICE inContact’s CXone is a key driver because it empowers organizations to provide exceptional CX on any channel by acting smarter and responding faster to consumer expectations and giving consumers the choice on how to engage them. Brands that embrace an integrated, “digital-first,” omnichannel strategy ensure more meaningful customer interactions and opportunities to cross-sell and up-sell, as well as experience improved customer acquisition, retention and growth. For example:
- Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain an average 89% of their customers, as to compared to 33% of companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement. (Aberdeen Group)
- Organizations committed to transforming their CX and leveraging new digital capabilities, alongside a human touch that’s available when necessary, are finding huge value. A staggering 91.6% report increased customer loyalty, while 84.4% report increased company profit/revenue.
But perhaps it’s brand differentiation and creating added value that continue to be the holy grail for brands that do business in a hyper-competitive arena. Many already understand that CX is pivotal. In fact, 62.4% see the opportunity inherent in evolving their CX transformation strategies to really stand out from competitors. (Dimension Data / CX Benchmarking, 2019).
There’s simply no downside to contact centers’ adoption of fully integrated, omnichannel strategies that seamlessly blend digital and voice channels. Regardless of industry or organization size, customers expect brands to meet them where they are. And where they are is digital.
Want to know more? Join us at CCW At Home August 11-27
Good news: When you access our virtual events as part of Customer Contact Week At Home (CCW At Home) between August 11 and August 27, you’ll be able see and hear for yourself how adopting a “digital first” approach will transform your contact center—and your CX. Here are the details:
Start your digital journey at CCW At Home August 11-27. We’ll be there with four separate virtual events to showcase the many opportunities digital CX can provide your contact center:
- Keynote Session – August 11 – 12:00 pm ET
Join our keynote, Digital First Service Delivers Customers for Life, and hear from NICE inContact customer, Mike Bowman, Sr. Contact Center Manager at ECSI, and Vit Horky, Sr. Director Digital Experience at NICE inContact, as they delve into the emerging “digital first” contact center—and how to elevate your CX by integrating and optimizing digital channels.
- Interactive Think Tanks – August 19
12:45 – 1:30 pm ET
1:30 – 2:15 pm ET
Join us as we explore how to prioritize the digital experience touchpoints that matter most to your customers.
- Case Study – August 26 – 2:00 pm ET
Hear NICE inContact customer Jeff Fawcett, Call Center & Training Manager of Wine Country Gift Baskets, deliver a first-hand account of their adoption of a cloud contact center solution—the journey, the empowerment, the success.
- Virtual Exhibit Booth – August 26-27
Chart your contact center’s path to digital transformation with a variety of e-books, white papers and more on today’s hottest digital topics. Visit our booth to access them all and chat live with our team!