As marketing leaders, we’re aware that every step in the customer journey counts. Our teams have developed sophisticated, customized customer journey models in response to escalating customer expectations. We’re elevating our game with analytics and automation to deliver personalized, omnichannel experiences. We’re becoming masters at right-time, right-place, right-message marketing.
Or are we?
With all of its nuanced complexity, your customer journey model might be missing a vital element: your customer’s direct interaction with your contact center. According to new customer journey experience research, conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of inContact among 2,028 U.S. adults, direct interactions with contact-center representatives are common for customers making online and phone purchases. The research found that:
- 43% U.S. adults who made at least one purchase online of $25 or more between August and January had interacted directly with a company representative.
- 84% of U.S. adults were in touch with a company representative when purchasing via phone.
- 81% agree that if they were dissatisfied with an order, they would prefer assistance from a live representative via phone or chat rather than using email or online self-service.
Furthermore, according to the research, interactions between customers and contact-center agents are taking place pretty much all across the shopping experience–before placing an order, during the checkout and order process, before receiving/during shipping, and after making their most expensive purchase. Clearly, our customer journey models should incorporate multiple touch points with the contact center.
Customers want to interact with you when they need to, where they need to. As channel options increase, channel use is not shifting–it’s spreading. Interactions are going up, and most of them are agent-assisted. Customers want to be able to move seamlessly between lots of different channels to get their questions answered. They want an omnichannel experience with multichannel options.
- Omnichannel experience: Two-thirds (65%) expect companies to know their purchase histories regardless of method of communication.
- Multichannel options: The majority of U.S. adults think at least six methods of communication are important to have when ordering online.
The Harris research reveals a continuous, two-way relationship between contact-center agents and customers:
- 67% of U.S. adults expect to be able to call the same company representative they worked with previously if they had an order or service issue.
- 64% would expect to be able to continue talking with the same company representative on the phone as they were talking with via online chat.
Customers have a very defined expectation of what they want, need, and expect. We all do. Regardless of my channel of choice, my identity, my proclivities, and my transactional history, my own context travels with me across channels. I want to be seen as one individual with a broad and peacock-colored history that is not just unique to the one silo that I am in at the moment. Just as delivering personalized marketing and sales efforts along the customer journey is critical, so is provision of a seamless experience with your contact center.
Still not convinced that interactions with your contact center belong in your journey model? The fact is, customers will move on after a bad service experience, and they expect your company to work harder to please them. More from the research:
- 86% U.S. adults will likely switch brands after a bad customer service experience.
- 89% agree that companies need to work harder to provide a better customer experience than they have in the past.
As customer demands continue to increase, contact-center agents will play a powerful role in delivering personalized, omnichannel journey experiences that lead to purchase, repurchase, and brand loyalty. Let’s leverage the impact of our contact centers. Let’s help empower and enable agents with the information the customer needs, right there at their fingertips. Let’s help them contribute to the overall awesome experience our customers expect.