Your customers are out there and they’re keen to engage via an ever wider range of digital channels. But which channels? And what kind of experience do they really value? We take a look at the new face of customer experience.
Brave new world?
So what exactly does the customer experience of the future look like? To find out, we conducted an in-depth global survey of around 3,000 consumers to discover what they’re actually looking for when they engage with brands. It’s no surprise that the past few years have acted as an accelerator for digital adoption, but the speed with which consumers have transitioned to digital-first interactions has still taken many companies by surprise.
The rise of automated, AI-driven chatbots, for example, has been stunning, with a 28% increase in interactions from 2019 to 2021 alone. Almost half of all consumers are now shopping on mobile platforms, challenging the traditional model of website-driven e-commerce.
Blended, not bland
It’s all part of a new, blended experience — one that goes beyond ‘omnichannel’ into a genuinely seamless customer journey, moving from message chatbot to human and back again, offering the right service in the right format to smooth and soothe the customer at every touchpoint — and by doing so build a great, long-lasting relationship.
Customers are becoming more and more comfortable jumping from one channel to another, starting a conversation in a messaging app and finishing it on a video call. We’re used to doing it in our own social and professional interactions every day — so it’s natural that it should feel familiar to us when we’re looking to make a purchase or other business transaction.
This is what modern CX is about — retaining the very best of human conversations while taking advantage of the possibilities of automation and conversational AI.
Better CX — it’s about more than customers…
We know that a great customer experience is key to sustainable growth — it’s all about building a great customer relationship. But on top of that, smarter digital solutions mean better business efficiency, allowing companies to use their best (and most valuable) human resources where they’re really needed.
The increasing sophistication of AI has been a game changer for customer support, for example. Chatbots can now easily handle the bulk of repetitive, routine enquiries, freeing up human support personnel to take the more complex queries in person. Customers feel valued and supported, and companies can scale more effectively. It’s win-win!
In 2021, 76% of the customers we surveyed had interacted with a chatbot, with over half liking the immediate availability of an automated response. But we still need to know when and where to deploy them. When it comes to resolving complex issues, nearly everyone still wants the option to move from messaging chat to voice call.
It’s all about balance
Just because we’re making better use of technology to assist us in building a better customer experience, we should never forget some fundamentals about human nature. Some discussions feel more comfortable or natural with a human, some benefit from the relative anonymity of an AI. In our survey, for example, we found that the majority of customers would rather discuss financial matters with a human rather than a chatbot, but when it comes to medical questions it’s the other way around.
It’s all about balance. We need to meet the customers where they are — wherever they are — offering the same, seamless, rich experience in any channel. We need to balance the speed and scalability of an AI with personal, sophisticated human interactions. The future of customer experience is hyper-personal - a world which, for the first time, truly revolves around the customer.
Download your copy of the full report, “Brave New World - Customer Experience in 2022”, here.