Customer loyalty is more important than ever, and prioritizing customer service — with an excellent, dynamic, and engaged contact center — can help your company stand out.
After all, your customer support team is the heart and soul of the customer experience (CX). If you can enable, empower, and engage your agents, you provide better interactions, which leads to higher customer retention. Now is a good time to pause and reflect on support center activity and trends by refining what we have learned and building on experiences to make agents, processes, and operations the best they can be in 2023.
Among the bright spots of 2022, we saw organizations and their support centers continue to prioritize the customer experience by implementing new technologies and support channels and navigating challenges, including excelling in the new hybrid work.
Here are six trends we see, including strategic and practical ways to prepare and improve your company’s customer experience center for 2023 and beyond:
1. Do more with less: automate where you can. This has become a mantra for companies in all industries, especially to remain competitive in an uncertain economy. With budget constraints and limited resources, companies are looking to streamline operations and be more efficient. But companies need to be careful not to negatively impact the customer experience.
We recommend companies implement technology and automation in their support centers. For example, workforce management software helps ensure you have the right agents available to meet service levels by creating forecasts based on the most recent trends and schedules that match your employees’ needs (such as leaving every day at 3:00 p.m. for school pick-up.)
2. The three Rs of relationships: refine, rebuild, retain. Your contact center employees are your greatest assets. The employer-employee connection is ever important to helping employees feel valued, respected, and supported — especially after a challenging year with quiet quitting on the rise. Increasing engagement with your agents is critical for retention. As we head into 2023, employee-employer relationships may require refining and rebuilding.
Fostering a positive and empowered work culture can help improve employee morale and engagement, which can, in turn, improve the overall performance of your contact center and your customers’ experience. Quality management software can increase employee engagement and uplevel agents’ skills with regular training and development opportunities to stay updated with the latest information, examples, scenarios, and best practices — resulting in a happier and more productive workforce — which leads to happier customers.
3. Prioritize customer engagement. Your contact center is a hub of valuable insights. Customer engagement is key because it helps build and maintain customer loyalty, satisfaction, and advocacy.
Since the pandemic, customers have had higher expectations than ever. Are you addressing the challenges your customers are experiencing and using this information to improve your customer support center? Implementing personalization can help improve the customer experience by being more relevant and tailored to individual customers. Additionally, consider leveraging customer sentiment tools to better understand how your customers feel after a given interaction. Ultimately, you need to make the most of your existing customers since you have already invested that money and effort in acquiring them. As we all know, getting a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.
4. Uplevel customer and agent experiences with artificial intelligence (AI). AI can assist both customer experience and employee experience. Analyzing interactions after they occur helps companies understand customer sentiment and the root cause of issues. This type of analysis can provide actionable information that can drive operational and CX improvements, a better understanding of self-service failures, competitive insights, and product development. It can also allow a company to double down in areas where customers continue to express positive sentiment.
Layering an AI solution in phases can improve the efficiency of your quality assurance efforts significantly. Currently, many customer service departments can only manually analyze a small percentage of customer conversations (typically 2-5%). While this limited analysis may help understand some issues, it leaves many companies to question what they are missing and how they can drive more insight. Instead, use quality management software that provides visibility and insight with automated interaction analyses that measure customer sentiment across 100% of support interactions — including email, chat, and social media — adding to traditional CSAT measures. This use of AI dramatically improves the efficiency and effectiveness of quality assurance.
5. Understand customers’ emotional loyalty. Tapping into your customers’ emotional loyalty can help retain their business. As a result of the pandemic, consumers have become more tolerant in dealing with disruption, long hold times, and product unavailability — with a rise in empathy toward the service industry. This tolerance may be waning, so it boils down to the strength of your customer relationships. Are your contact center agents empathetic to their needs?
This will entail consistently delivering high-quality service, providing personalized experiences, and demonstrating empathy and care. In difficult times, anxious customers need us more than ever. Agents must demonstrate they understand customers’ feelings, see things from their point of view, and show they care. By prioritizing emotional connection, you can foster long-term relationships with your customers and create a loyal customer base that will continue to support your business beyond uncertain times.
6. Ensure visibility into your digital support channels. In the support industry, digital support channels are increasing, digital experiences will continue to grow, and digital expectations are accelerating. Companies must have visibility into their digital channels to ensure quality and keep a finger on the pulse of rapidly changing technology (many existing solutions were built for a voice-centric world that no longer exists).
The human connection remains essential. As a result, 2023 will be the year of rebuilding customers’ and employees’ trust after some post-pandemic erosion. Continue to prioritize and invest in customer service and contact centers, create emotionally connected experiences with customers, and be prepared to do more with less — especially with consumers looking hard at their spending in an uncertain economy. These strategies will help improve customer satisfaction, enhance your company’s reputation, drive sales and revenue, and help retain your employees and customers in the long term.
About the Author
Michelle Randall is CMO at Playvox.