The results of a study from BoldChat and marketing research business Ovum revealed that the customer experience in Australia worsened over the two years to 2016.
Speaking to consumers in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the study showed that on a global scale, consumers believe it takes six interactions to resolve issues, contrasting to contact centre managers, who believed it took one to two interactions.
“The disparity between the perception of contact centres and the reality of consumers when it comes to customer experience is worrisome, as every interaction is proving to be critical to customer retention,” says Ken Landoline, principal analyst of customer engagement at Ovum.
Statistics provided to My Business about Australia and New Zealand consumers show that increased volume of interactions before resolution of an issue is resulting in a loss of business, as 90 per cent of consumers said they would stop supporting that business following a bad experience.
“Because customers will stop doing business with a company following a bad experience, it is critical that brands identify friction points in the customer journey, and offer their reps the tools and technology to help improve the overall customer experience from pre-purchase through post-purchase support,” he says.
Furthermore, nearly half of consumers (46 per cent) believed that access to contact centres had worsened.
Phone systems were highlighted as an issue, as while 67 per cent of consumers believe that phone calls have the best chances for resolving issues, half were frustrated with automated response systems and 77 per cent would choose an alternative channel if it would mean resolving the issue in one attempt.
The results beg the question: how can SMEs provide the best possible customer experience, and reduce the gap between what they believe they are offering and the perception of their customers on the receiving end?
Integrate your online and offline offerings
To be able to provide for your customers that might prefer going either solely online, offline, or both, it’s important that whatever you do, both experiences are integrated with each other.
“What it needs to be is a seamless experience for a customer to connect with our brand, whether that's online or in store, or on an app, or any which way they choose to connect with us,” he says.
“If we're doing promotions … for our marketing campaigns, we deliver them not only in store but also online so that customers can have that same experience.”
Move to the cloud
In order to improve access to online contact alternatives, SMEs may want to consider moving to the cloud.
“Being able to much more easily share with your customers, communicate with your customers, be much more responsive to your customers, and improve their experience — and not only in an intangible way, but actually improving the customer experience — can even improve your bottom line in a very tangible way as well,” he said.
Show customers you’re thankful for them
While it may be obvious, remembering a simple ‘please’ or ‘thankyou’ can put the icing on the cake of a great customer experience, or help salvage a terrible one.
“A simple ‘thankyou’ sends a powerful message of appreciation — and people like to feel special,” he says.
“An unexpected gift or thankyou note will stand out and make it a memorable customer experience.
“Positive above-expectations interactions with your business will begin to build brand loyalty and encourage them to return.
“They may even pay a higher price for goods when they know their custom is valued.”