2020 signals a major tipping point when it comes to the customer experience. This year, service staff have been stretched and it has been an emotional rollercoaster for many support agents dealing with unexpected roadblocks and hurdles along the way. Whilst 2020 will be the year we’re pleased to put behind us, we should take note of the valuable lessons we’ve learnt as we approach the new year.
Businesses have been forced to review the impact that their customer service has on their overall outcomes and long-term success. As we all strive to adjust to our latest reality, it has become clear that this new way of operating isn’t just a one-off. According to findings from our recent research report on Customer Experience (CX) conducted with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), the performance gap between the leaders and the laggards of customer experience is widening, and the accelerated digital transformation due to COVID-19 is further driving this trend.
We found that in Europe, the more mature customer service businesses (called Champions in the study) make up just 15% of the business landscape. These Champions, however, are seeing the returns of their investment in CX - they are 3.4 times more likely to have gained market share from their competitors, and 7.3 times more successful than the least mature customer service businesses (called Starters) at growing their customer spend. The research shows the clear connection between an investment in CX and business success - and at the heart of that is the business’ ability to stay agile and adapt to ever-changing customer needs.
Mind the (maturity) gap
There is, however, a risk identified in the research. Compared to Starters, Champions in Europe are 14.3 times more likely to predict a significant increase of investment in tools and technology over the coming 12 months, and while globally this figure drops to just 8.3 times, we see that those leading the charge in CX maturity understand the value of solutions that improve agility. And for those Starters who may be pausing or slowing their investments, there’s a risk of falling even further behind.
So, how can other businesses become CX champions and begin to close the CX maturity gap?
Step one: Are you delivering customer-centric agility?
Put simply, customers expect the brands and businesses they interact with to respond to their enquiries quickly and effectively. Whether it’s shorter response times or quicker resolution times, meeting this need will help to ensure your customer feels valued. To do this, find out what the customer wants. How can you deliver this expected level of service? What data do you need in order to deliver this? And how do you use this data to develop a deep understanding of what really counts: providing customers with the answers they actually need.
Champions are leading the way here. On average, Champions in Europe estimate that 87 percent of customer issues are resolved within one touch, a figure 14 percentage points higher than Starters. What’s more, Champions also scored a mean resolution time 82 percent faster than that of Starters. That’s a difference of nearly 3.4 hours. Imagine you are the customer. We know that every minute counts and this time saving is a game changer.
Step two: Are your agents equipped with the tools they need?
The customer should always be at the heart of every decision you make, so as your most customer-facing team, it follows that your support staff should be too. Do they feel empowered to succeed when they come to work? Do they have the right skill sets and tools needed to achieve what is expected of them?
With the right tools, an agent can more quickly access the capabilities to make this decision and pivot. This is why omnichannel support tools are vital, allowing agents to toggle seamlessly between the channels and messaging platforms the customer has been using. Rather than having a different platform for every channel, empowering agents with a single platform of engagement offers a holistic view of the customers’ preferences and history with the brand. The end goal: faster resolution times and a happier customer.
To thrive over the long term, it’s important to recognise that a critical part of this success is your people. In this study, Champions invested in their teams - offering an average of 2.4 more days of training for service and support staff per year than Starters. This additional training shows your staff that you are committed to their development, reducing your overall turnover rate, while also building high performing teams.
Step three: Are you tracking your data (and learning from it) regularly?
Peter Drucker, one of the most influential management thinkers is often quoted saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. In order to manage successfully, you therefore need to be aware of the environment in which you are operating and the context of what these insights may be.
The research shows that at a large majority of European Starters, CX metrics are rarely reviewed. Champions are more likely to review metrics daily - and this approach is led by leadership. A great example of this in practice is Trustpilot, an open online review platform with 90 million users. This year, the company has been able to dramatically grow its self-service capabilities. In doing so, agent capacity has increased, leading to a 62 per cent year-on-year growth in self-service and a 98 per cent success rate.
The pandemic has taught us many things. But if one thing sticks, it’s that businesses who remain agile – and focused on what the customer wants and needs – are in the best place to drive greater customer loyalty in a highly unpredictable marketplace.