Why modernisation is key to building relationships with customers in a digital-first world

2020 has seen a wealth of new challenges arise for businesses but as we head to 2021 Koby Amedume, Director at NICE inContact looks at how optimising digital channels can enhance customer relationships and drive positive customer experiences…

It’s no secret that customer service is evolving at a rapid rate. A wider range of channels, higher customer expectations and an increasingly turbulent external environment characterised by the disruption caused by Covid-19 are all converging to make long-term customer retention a challenge for businesses of all sizes.

As such, contact centres are having to adapt and digitise at an increasing rate. Following the impact of Covid-19, 80% of companies feel that digital transformation has become more urgent and 83% now plan to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.

The changes they’re making are largely being driving by digitally-savvy millennials and generation Z consumers, who now demand the same level of digital interaction with brands as they enjoy in their personal lives. Their use of tools such as AI, chatbots and social media messaging are shaping modern customer service, putting pressure on businesses to compete in today’s experience economy.

These influential consumer groups – McKinsey estimates their combined purchasing power to be in the region of $350 billion in the US alone – also expect high-quality interactions and won’t hesitate in moving to a competitor if their expectations aren’t met.

That’s why it’s so important for businesses to remain agile and modernise to keep pace with growing demands. In today’s increasingly digital world, contact centres have to ask themselves whether they are providing customers with the right level of online support. Those that aren’t, will find their customer relationships to be particularly short-lived, ultimately hindering their long-term growth.

Meeting modern-day standards

Building positive relationships with customers all comes down to meeting their specific needs and preferences as seamlessly as possible. However, this has become more complicated over the last few years, given how quickly consumers’ expectations have developed.

Contact centres therefore must embrace the technological innovations now available to them if they want to keep pace. For example, delivering digital-first service and convenience through a range of channels that include online chat, email, text and social media messaging is what a growing number of consumers are looking for.

Mobile and digital technologies have the power to change the way consumers engage with companies by enabling anytime, anywhere and anyhow conveniences that will keep customers coming back for more. The 2019 Customer Experience Transformation Benchmark survey found that almost 60% of Generation Z and Millennials have used private social messaging for customer service, while 72% and 69% respectively want companies to allow them to interact with customer service agents using private social messaging apps.

Businesses have to recognise these demands, as engaging with customers on the channels they want to participate in plays a key role in driving exceptional and more meaningful customer experience interactions. Indeed, connecting with customers how and where they want to connect is key to delivering customers for life.

AI provides another example. Consumers are feeling more positive about AI-powered chatbots and automated assistants and are now more likely to agree that chatbots make it easier and quicker to get their issues resolved. It’s no surprise that 64% of contact centre leaders plan to increase their AI investment, with 79% saying it can help them deliver consistent, timely and contextually relevant experiences.

Ultimately, contact centres must adopt an omnichannel approach that integrates the full range of channels into one holistic environment. As well as making it easy for customers to get personalised help through their preferred digital, mobile and social channels, this will provide the convenience of hopping from one channel to another without disrupting the interaction. That type of seamless service is exactly what today’s consumers are looking for.

The role of cloud

Although winning in a digital-first world is no easy task, cloud-based tools and platforms play a key role in helping businesses take the steps needed to succeed. By embracing the cloud, businesses can modernise and future-proof their contact centres in a way that will truly delight their customers.

For example, cloud platforms can provide levels of agility and efficiency not otherwise possible, while also serving as a foundation from which businesses can grow in line with both their customers’ and their own future needs.

Most importantly, the cloud can boost any contact centre’s ability to solve customer problems. A modern cloud-based contact centre platform that brings multiple channels together in one ecosystem makes it easier for customers to get the convenient, effective and personalised help they need. This will then translate into increased customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty. Those companies that use cloud contact centre technology report 18% higher customer satisfaction than those relying on on-premise infrastructure, and are 36% more likely to be recommended by their customers based on service experience.

Finally, digitally transforming with the cloud enables businesses to leverage advances in other technologies – such as analytics, automation and AI – to continue to improve customer service and agent efficiency. This means they can keep adapting to whatever comes their way and stand out from their competitors.

Although businesses are under more pressure than ever to deliver the best possible customer service, there is a clear path to success. By modernising their contact centres and incorporating the latest technologies, they will be able to consistently achieve the high standards required and drive positive experiences. That’s the only true way to build prosperous, long-term relationships with customers in a digital-first world.

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