Consumers Want Choice, Not Inflexibility, From Contact Centers

As self-service technologies and artificial intelligence tools continue to grow in prominence within the customer experience industry, consumers are sending a strong message in reply:

“Let us decide how to engage with you.”

This is according to the latest installment of The Customer Experience Benchmark Series published by trade group Execs In The Know. This report was developed based on surveys of more than 5,000 US consumers about their experiences dealing with brands’ customer care departments or self-service options.

My biggest takeaway from this study is that virtually every customer satisfaction metric is negatively affected when customers are “forced” to use a particular channel of communications versus when they “choose” to do so.

The report goes on to reveal that 47 percent of consumers report feeling forced into certain communications channels to resolve their issues due to complexity or the company’s customer care process.  Clearly, not all brands are listening to their customers’ preferences.

It’s important to note that self-service technologies and AI tools absolutely have their place in a customer engagement program. We embrace these tools here at Servicing Solutions, and they’ve benefitted our clients and their customers alike. However, brands that rush down this path too quickly without considering their customers’ preferences can expect to experience significantly diminished customer satisfaction.

Not surprisingly, The Customer Experience Benchmark Series points to issue resolution as consumers’ primary concern as it relates to being forced into communication channels. And for all the benefits the appropriate use of self-service options can provide, the inappropriate application of these tools has proven to be a barrier to issue resolution.

For example, of the 5,000 consumers surveyed, only 25% stated that first-call resolution for self-service technologies was more than 50%, while it was 62% with human-assisted channels. Furthermore, issue resolution stands at 69% for self-service technologies and 86% for phone interactions on a per interaction level.

When you consider that customer satisfaction rates stand at 93% for one contact resolution, 70% for two, and 49% for three, providing your customers with the easiest path to resolving their issue is far too important a consideration to ignore.

Based on my experience, I am absolutely confident that any negative metrics associated with AI and self-service tools are directly related to overreliance and limiting customer choice. We’ve seen far higher success rates on behalf of our clients due to utilizing these tools in the right way, and customizing them based on the intricacies of each of our client’s customer base.

The bottom line is that an effective customer experience program should be built from the outside in by listening to your customers, getting to know their needs, and treating them better than your competition. If you believe that customer value equals shareholder value, the results of adopting this type of approach will speak for themselves.

Ready to create a customer experience that promotes customer choice, appropriately uses AI and self-service tools, and increases your profitability and efficiency? We’d love to talk. Reach out to us at Sales@servicingsolutions.com