Customer Experience News & Trends

Are you ready for what customers want next?

Since the days soda machines and salad bars were invented, self-service has been embraced. But your customers want more than to help themselves all the time. Are you ready for what else they expect?

Most companies offer some kind of self-service now — from phone triages and complex interactive voice response (IVR) systems, to online ordering and peer-to-peer communities. Still, nearly every company offers customers options to get out and work with a person who can help — and many customers still want and take it.

“What customers care about most when they move from, say, an IVR to a customer service rep is clarity of information, ease of navigation and ease of understanding,” said Mark Miller, senior director of contact center solutions at J.D. Power.

Once customers easily make it to person — whether that’s via a phone call, email or real-time chat — they expect the customer service pro will know and understand everything they’ve already shared through self-service.

Here’s what customers want in the real-time interactions — and what top performers are doing now, according to Millers’ research:

1. Personalization

Customers actually expect you will know them and will treat them like the top companies — such as Amazon — do, Miller said.

Tip: If companies are going to offer customers the option to move from one channel to the other, they need infrastructure behind the scenes that lets reps who pick up their calls know what’s already been established, the status and, even better, the mood customers are in. From there, reps want to use the data to immediately demonstrate that they know something by referring to a past experience.

2. Speed

Customers are increasingly impatient. “Everything is on demand,” Miller said. “Because they’re under stress, time gets compressed and it feels like a wait is much longer than it is.”

Tip: Set expectations and tell them the benefits to any delays. For instance, if they’re waiting on a phone, play a hold message that tells them when to expect you, what’s being done while they wait and what they can anticipate — a great outcome, personalized help and/or a first-contact resolution.

3. Clarity

Because self-service is catching and answering the easier issues, more complex and emotional calls will make it through to service pros.

Tip: When you’re hiring, remember that service pros who take calls need thick skin. Watch and test for emotional intelligence, too. Know that they can handle people and emotions, as well as questions and technical issues.

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