I love the first few months of the year. We get results from all the studies conducted the year before so we can better understand what’s been happening in the world of CX. Here are some points to consider from a few studies in 2016.
It’s no surprise that Dimension Data’s Global Contact Center Benchmarking 2016 study reports that 82.5% of companies recognize CX as a competitive differentiator. Even more impactful that 77.5% recognize CX as the most important strategic performance measure. The question for you is whether your brand really believes in the competitive advantage and strategic importance of CX. If the answer is yes, read on.
What’s been trending?
Consider this—CFI Group released the Contact Center Satisfaction Index for 2016. The Index outlines key areas impacting satisfaction—namely an organization’s ability to quickly and efficiently solve customer issues. The results? The report showed that customer satisfaction with contact centers fell by four points in 2015, making it the lowest score in the nine years CFI has been conducting this study. The drop is a sobering thought, given the attention and focus most companies give their contact center functionality. Looking at the data, we can ask ourselves whether we’re measuring the right things when it comes to customer feedback.
Forrester Research stated in their 2016 report “Why CX? Why now?” that only 33% of firms require soft-skills training for their customer-facing employees. Soft skills include communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and emotional intelligence. Even in the digital age of automation, I remain a firm believer that a successful customer experience falls on how well a brand executes the human touch. While phone calls still remain the primary contact channel when an experience goes awry, research says that won’t be true for long. Forrester predicts digital interactions will surpass phone calls for resolving customer issues by the end of the year.
What’s the action?
Satisfaction with contact center interactions is trending down. And with only one third of brands investing in soft-skills training, there is a gap brands need to close. The good news is—they can.
From a customer’s perspective, soft skills show themselves as employee friendliness, courtesy, and professionalism. They also show how well an employee seems to understand customer needs. Soft skills also tie to the customer’s perception that the agent valued their time whether spent on the phone or spent dealing with their issue. Essentially, soft skills are the glue that bonds the customer experience together—especially when customers have unmet expectations.
I learned after spending countless dollars on training employees on hard skills—i.e., processing an order, taking payment, or following company guidelines—that it only marginally increased measures like loyalty and future spend. Even though the investment in hard skills was confirmed by higher quality monitor scores and strong employee compliance, the real change happened when the focus on training shifted to soft skills. Quality monitoring moved from process compliance to customer experience measures, and customer feedback was captured via a post-interaction survey. The result? Customer loyalty grew and customer spend increased by 20–25%.
There will always be a need for hard skills training—that’s non-negotiable. Brands can’t win at CX if customers perceive that agents don’t understand their own processes. But soft skills are what make a customer experience one to remember. Give your customers a meaningful human experience, and they’ll repay you with loyalty and spend.Need to know where to start? SMG can help. Contact us to learn more.