With the arrival of a new year, contact centers are set to experience shifts in customer engagement strategy. While many of the trends to be expected in 2016 closely mirror current ones, the ways in which technologies are implemented, agents train for and deliver service, and consumers choose to interact with their preferred brands will emphasize greater personalized attention and even more cutting-edge technology for seamless customer experiences. Here are the first five of the top ten trends for customer engagement to look out for in 2016.
While 2015 saw brands weighing the differences between multichannel and omnichannel practices-with many stating that the latter was simply an enhanced version of the former-omnichannel now reigns supreme. It’s not enough for brands to simply offer service on multiple channels-what counts is optimizing across all channels for a seamless, consistent experience and meaningful marketing strategy. Accenture reported earlier this year that 65% of consumers surveyed felt frustrated by inconsistent experiences across channels, and a survey of 120 chief marketing officers conducted by The CMO Club and Rakuten Marketing found that only 11% are currently implementing an omnichannel strategy with 55% claiming that their company has yet to do so.
Self-service has increasingly become a high-demand feature in customer service, with brands across many industries finding numerous ways to deliver quicker, more efficient service at significantly reduced costs for greater customer loyalty. Intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) are often used by airlines, hotels, utilities companies, and retail brands to name a few, with Hyatt Hotels serving as one example of a company that saw a 94% savings on fully automated interactions and an increase in ROI from 2011 to the present of between 125% to 150%. Brands as diverse as Coca-Cola, U.S. Bank, and Pfizer also use IVAs, and other technologies such as visual IVR menus enable customers to benefit from faster service on their mobile devices at reduced costs to the companies implementing them.
Video continues to play an evolving role in customer service, with more and more brands noting the importance of offering face-to-face interactions for a richer, more personalized experience. Videos may be used for greater self-service by offering customers tutorials on company websites, testimonials about brands to educate and inspire customers, and, of course, video chat for optimum customer service. Indeed, Gartner has predicted that more than 100 of the 500 largest global businesses will introduce video-based chat by 2018. Video technology is further evolving to use customer data as a means of delivering personalized videos for stronger customer service and marketing targeted at each specific customer’s needs.
Eliminate Holds/Enable Callbacks
No one likes to lose time, and brands that value this principle can expect greater customer loyalty. For customers who prefer to use the voice channel for service, callbacks are critical to saving them time and frustration. Technologies that enable callbacks based on a customer’s position in a queue-essentially calling back the customer as soon as an agent is free–can eliminate hold time, reduce abandonment rates, and provide greater agent efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Social media continues to play an important and evolving role in the customer experience. Customers are quick to comment on brands after both positive and negative experiences, leading to opportunities for both brand advocacy and customer churn. Companies and customers alike are further embracing social media platforms as prime channels for customer service. According to an Aberdeen Group report, companies that respond to and engage with customers over social media can expect those customers to spend 20 to 40 percent more with that company, while the same report found that 71% of consumers who have positive social customer service experiences are likely to recommend that brand to others. Twitter recently acknowledged the significance of its platform for customer service by unveiling a suite of data products and functionality designed especially to provide companies with the essential tools for delivering excellent customer service, and many companies are following suit by adopting the tools into their social customer care software.
Stay tuned for our next blog post describing the five remaining customer engagement trends for 2016. Learn about Vocalcom contact center software solutions for optimum customer engagement.
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