As a father, it’s always been interesting to see my kids instinctively learn and use multiple messaging apps on their smartphones. Text, chat, video and phone calls – they have an innate understanding of all the little nuances and subtleties for each channel that’s unique to their generation. For example, an emoji can have an entirely different interpretation if sent from one channel as opposed to another. It’s high-context communication that’s effectively its own language.
For contact center agents, understanding the differences within each channel and getting them to all work together seamlessly is critical, especially as digital channels grow in popularity. According to the latest findings of the NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark study, 91% of customers expect seamless transitions between channels, but only 24% of businesses give themselves an excellent rating on doing so. If agents aren’t able to truly be digital-first, connecting with customers across each channel and guiding them to the right one when needed, they run the risk of losing the personal touch on which successful customer experience hinges. It’s one thing to misinterpret an email between colleagues due to confusing punctuation – it’s another thing when that results in a negative customer service interaction.
Here’s what customer experience leaders and agents need to know about communicating via digital channels so nothing gets lost in translation:
Set the right tone
As with any form of written communication, it can be difficult to interpret tone or intent. For example, an agent might perceive an email message as low-priority, not just because of the language used and the context given, but because email doesn’t have the urgency of a real-time chat or phone call. But, the customer could see it differently. The very reason digital channels are relied upon so heavily in the first place is convenience, so they won’t necessarily be hyper cognizant of the language they’re using to convey importance. They’ll simply opt for whichever channel they prefer.
Contact center technology and SLA policies need to be implemented to set up agents for success. Smart routing of digital channels using text analytics is an important tool to help agents understand urgency and context of non-voice channels. For example, adding intelligent, analytics-based routing to Salesforce chat and email channels can prioritize inquiries from VIP customers and customers who are requesting help for an urgent issue. Agents can also improve their responses when analytics can quickly summarize the customer’s sentiment and level of frustration, plus highlight any key topics the customer wants answers to.
Deliver speedy and painless resolutions
All of the advancements in cloud customer experience technology over the last decade – from omnichannel functionality, to next-gen analytics, to workforce optimization – are in service of the timeless creed of CX: customers want speedy and painless resolutions. When a customer engages via digital channels, they’re looking for convenience above all else. Some channels, however, that might be convenient, like SMS text or email, are not necessarily the most effective for quickly resolving complex issues. One of the most important keys in improving CSAT and First Contact Resolution (FCR) is making sure that your agents have the tools to elevate those conversations to a channel that’s more effective – and keep the customer context and place in queue.
This requires a delicate balance of offering a complete suite of digital channels, while still meeting the core expectation of seamless service. For example, chat is often a strong way to get that job done effectively. Our study found that chat is now the third most used and preferred channel; 44% of global consumers are highly satisfied with chat, and the channel has a strong Net Promoter Score® of 21. Chat is ideal for less complicated issues, enabling customers to quickly communicate without investing the time and energy that can often cause frustration.
Meld A.I. and agents to enhance the human touch
There’s no doubt that AI has certainly come a long way, and has an important role to play in an overarching customer experience strategy. Building a truly empathetic connection and demonstrating an understanding of customers, however, calls for human agents. AI-powered assistants like chatbots can struggle to read between the lines and pick up on subtle cues that make all the difference in a customer interaction.
This doesn’t mean that AI isn’t a powerful supporting mechanism that can enhance the human touch. For example, chatbots can quickly provide answers to straightforward inquiries, and also share proactive recommendations to agents based on previous context. Contact center leaders are optimistic, with 63% agreeing that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier for consumers to get their issues resolved, and 68% agreeing that consumers want to use virtual assistants to interact with them. Clearly, AI’s strongest role is to augment the agent experience, not replace it.
Get agile to adapt to a rapidly changing environment
Today, it’s not just kids who are adept at communicating rapidly between digital and traditional channels. To meet the challenge in this highly demanding CX environment, turbocharge your Salesforce Service Cloud with embedded cloud contact center tools that provide the flexibility to adapt to omnichannel expectations, agent-AI blended experiences, and add advanced speech/text analytics and workforce optimization (WFO). NICE inContact CXone Packages, integrated with Salesforce Service Cloud, add a global carrier-grade voice channel to digital customer interaction channels, in addition to an intelligent routing engine to empower agents to consistently deliver authentic customer experiences.
Chris has successfully driven technology strategy and go-to-market (GTM) growth initiatives for software startups and large enterprises over the past 20 years, focusing on solutions that help organizations improve customer experience. He currently leads product marketing and market intelligence for inContact as VP, Product and Segment Marketing.
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