Vonage, a global leader in cloud communications helping businesses accelerate their digital transformation and a part of Ericsson, has released its Global Customer Engagement Report 2024.
The 12th annual report outlines data and insights into customer communications preferences with businesses, highlighting emerging trends that emphasize the need to augment these interactions with artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance customer engagement.
AI’s Role to Reduce Frustration and Deliver Great CX
The data revealed consumers continue to prefer a range of channel options when communicating with businesses, with mobile phone calls (36%), messaging/non-SMS apps (31%) and phone calls via apps (29%) ranking high in preference. However, less than half (42%) indicated they are “very satisfied” when communicating with businesses.
Consumers cited multiple frustrations such as long wait times to speak to an agent (63%), no way to speak to customer service via voice/phone (59%), lack of 24/7 support availability (48%) and lack of self-service support (46%).
The report found that, alarmingly, nearly three quarters (74%) of customers are likely to take their business elsewhere as a result of poor experiences, and for nearly half (46%), just one or two negative encounters are enough to prompt their departure.
These findings underscore opportunities to leverage AI. With tools like AI-based virtual assistants, businesses are equipped to provide quick resolution, reduce frustrations and ultimately provide a more targeted and personalized experience for the user, including the ability to:
- Triage urgent customer inquiries
- Provide smarter self-service at scale
- Deliver smart IVR (interactive voice response) and skills-based routing to connect customers with an agent best suited to handle their query, preventing and mitigating a bad customer experience
Report findings demonstrate that consumers are embracing AI to make their experiences better. In fact, responses show a likelihood that chatbot and video chat usage will more than double within the next year, with 10% using chatbots today and 23% expected usage in the next six to 12 months. Additionally, 13% indicate they’re using video chat today, with 26% expected usage in the next six to 12 months.
Commenting on the report findings, Joy Corso, Chief Marketing Officer at Vonage, highlights the significance of these results in shaping customer experience (CX): “This data underscores that, to differentiate on customer engagement, businesses need an omnichannel communications strategy that allows customers to contact them seamlessly across their preferred channels. Those that do will also benefit from the ability to leverage the powerful capabilities of AI across communication channels, such as voice, video, messaging, and chat, enabling them to augment live customer support. This goes a long way to ensuring personal and real-time customer engagement at every touchpoint.”
“Metrigy’s upcoming AI for Business Success study shows significant growth for AI-enabled technologies, with 38% of CX leaders saying 2024 will be their turning point for acceptance of AI in CX, up from 17% in 2023,” says Metrigy CEO Robin Gareiss. “Companies that adopt and integrate AI and automation into their CX processes have documented compelling success metrics, with improvements in customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as agent efficiency. Companies not using AI on an omnichannel environment are already at a competitive disadvantage, so it’s imperative to establish a targeted AI strategy now.”
Positive CX Creates Loyal Brand Ambassadors
With 56% of consumers indicating they are likely to offer positive survey feedback after a great experience with a business and 55% noting they would share their experience with friends and family, it’s clear that great experiences create valuable brand ambassadors. Even better, more than half (52%) of customers report heightened brand loyalty following such an encounter, and more than a third (36%) go as far as purchasing additional products.
Added Corso, “This report emphasizes that businesses that leverage AI across communications channels have the ability to facilitate the kind of meaningful, intelligent conversations that strengthen loyalty, build long lasting customer relationships and ultimately boost sales.”
The Global Customer Engagement survey included more than 7,000 participants across 17 global markets. Conducted in October 2023, the survey explored the varied channels customers use for communicating with friends, family, and businesses – including voice, messaging apps, email, social media, chat, and more – and the immense value of delivering excellent customer service.
Vonage, a global cloud communications leader, helps businesses accelerate their digital transformation. Vonage’s Communications Platform is fully programmable and allows for the integration of Video, Voice, Chat, Messaging, AI and Verification into existing products, workflows and systems. The Vonage conversational commerce application enables businesses to create AI-powered omnichannel experiences that boost sales and increase customer satisfaction. Vonage’s fully programmable unified communications, contact centre and conversational commerce applications are built from the Vonage platform and enable companies to transform how they communicate and operate from the office or remotely – providing the flexibility required to create meaningful engagements.