by Nick Martin
Not long ago, consumers looking to contact the companies they did business with had to contain their outreach to the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., between Monday and Friday. If they had an option other than the phone, such as email or chat, they likely had to provide their information anew on each channel. Companies tightly controlled where interactions between its agents and customers happened, and they frequently made it too difficult for consumers to get the level of help and service they needed, CX futurist Blake Morgan asserted in Forbes.
Companies are no longer in control, though. Wave after wave of innovation, from ecommerce advances to mobile phones and the Internet of Things, have transformed consumers’ demands. Consumers today expect content and service relative to what they’re doing at any time, anywhere, and on the device of their choosing, and they – not companies – are driving the transformation upending customer-focused industries.
Today, the customer journey often begins long before a consumer interacts with a live employee.
Customers frequently search online or visit apps to do research before they reach out for help – and when they do reach out, they’re doing it on multiple channels. Research by McKinsey & Company found that half of customers engage three to five channels during their journey, which isn’t surprising given the proliferation of digital access around the globe: 4.66 billion people are active internet users, 4.32 billion are active mobile internet users, and 4.2 billion are active social media users, according to Statista.
COVID-19 has only increased usage of digital channels – in fact, McKinsey estimates that digital channel adoption fast-forwarded five years in the first eight weeks of the pandemic, and consumers expect to continue using digitally enabled services that go far beyond voice, emails and chat to also encompass the internet, apps and more.
It’s not just COVID, though; other underlying factors are also affecting the use and the proliferation of digital channels. The combination of instant and anywhere access and the growth of mobile devices that permit non-voice communication are a catalyst for more modes of interaction between the customer and the contact center. Digital channels also level the playing field – you no longer necessarily have to invest in an expensive ACD to connect with your customers. You can simply connect with your customers through Facebook or other social media channels, and there are a handful of companies, especially young startups, that are doing exactly that. It gives them early access to support channels without the heavy investment associated with an ACD. Another key benefit of digital channels is that they are generally cost-effective – being able to postpone or interrupt interactions in favor of other interactions, for example, can make for a very cost-effective, albeit challenging, mode of operation. For many other organizations, the move to digital is simply a matter of survival – as their customers go digital, they feel compelled to follow.
Gone are the days of customers – and businesses – confining their interactions with traditional voice, email or chat. As businesses adapt to the change in how customers communicate with them, they’re also changing how they reach out to customers themselves. Companies are increasingly providing personalized notifications and updates regarding service, running marketing campaigns via social media based on analytics of users, and creating touchpoints across many new digital channels.
And with customer experience on digital channels in the spotlight more than ever before, companies are investing heavily in digital: 70 percent of customer service and support leaders plan to dedicate the largest budget allocation to digital channels and capabilities in 2021, according to Gartner.
This era of instant, anywhere, anyplace interactions can make or break the customer relationship, and contact centers play an increasingly crucial role – a missed interaction can mean the loss of a customer because competitor information is also instant, anywhere, anyplace. To stay competitive, businesses need a workforce solution ready for interactions that go beyond the traditional. Learn more about NICE WFM with machine learning 2.0 for digital channel management.
Nick Martin Nick Martin is the Director of Product Management for CXone WFM. He brings more than 6 years of experience in software product management specifically around WFM solutions and has worked on feature across the entire WFM lifecycle. Nick is credited as an inventor on several patent-pending and two granted-patents pertaining to WFM. Additionally, Nick has previously held roles involving multiple business functions with P&L responsibility. Prior to his corporate experience, Nick served as a Military Intelligence Officer in the U.S Army. Nick graduated with a B.S. in Human Factors Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Additionally, Nick earned his M.B.A. from Southern Methodist University and professional certificate in Data Analytics from Cornell University.