2020 has been a disappointing year for customer service, which means it has been a disappointing year for customers. Almost every customer-facing website, whether it belongs to an energy supplier, telecoms provider, retailer or insurer, now has a homepage alert blaming the pandemic for long call-waiting times or reduced operating times.
Initially, consumers were forgiving of these slower response times; after all, the ‘we’re all in this together mentality’ applied as we collectively juggled the trials and tribulations of the shift to working from home. But many months on, as remote working has become business as normal, patience isn’t waning – patience has run out.
The customer service paradox
At the core of most current customer service is a paradox. Teams have worked hard to embrace new digital channels – such as messaging apps, live-chat and social media channels – to communicate with customers. However, these channels are predominantly tied to fixed contact centre locations, using on-premises software, which make them unsuitable for working remotely. Although the pandemic highlighted how unfit for purpose these legacy systems are, even without the Covid catalyst these ageing systems have been long hindering those in need of a modern customer service team.
Gain flexibility with the cloud
Forward-thinking organisations are already using cloud technology, with software accessed through a browser, to operate their contact centres remotely. The cloud revolutionises the way businesses share files, communicate within teams, manage supply chains and more. Combining it with flexible and remote working policies will make customer service departments agile enough to deal with any situation and adapt more quickly to technological changes.
While one’s own workers are important, it is essential to foster a consumer-centric model rather than an inwardly facing business-centric approach. Although sectors have differing demands for their contact centres, for 90 per cent of customers the objective is simple: they simply want their issue resolved. Moreover, the modern consumer expects to communicate with a company with the same ease and convenience of their personal interactions.
In the same way that m-commerce has become a necessity, adopted by the vast majority of e-merchants, businesses must adapt to fresh consumer expectations and set up conversational experiences on the channels their customers most frequently use. Through these channels, companies can set up a complete purchasing journey, from researching information to payment and problem resolution.
AXA: a case study for digital transformation
AXA – one of the world’s largest insurance providers – decided to increase the number of its digital touchpoints to deliver frictionless service in the Swiss market. The RingCentral Engage Digital platform gave AXA’s customers the choice of contacting them on three messaging apps (Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat or WhatsApp) and multiple channels (via Twitter, email, live chat or phone call).
When AXA implemented RingCentral Engage Digital, it gained a single cloud-based platform to manage all its digital interactions across every channel. At a time when speed and resources were at a premium, the AI-based smart routing system pushed incoming messages to the right agent based on urgency and skillset.
Last but by no means least, it dealt with the infuriating situation of customers having to explain their situation each time they spoke to the company but on a different channel. Engage Digital allowed AXA to merge customer identities into a single profile, so that a customer starting a conversation on one platform was immediately identified if they made contact on another channel, along with their previous interactions.
AXA improved resource handling, had no duplicate conversations and saw a 10x increase in case resolution and a 50 per cent reduction in the time taken to resolve issues.
What’s more, the new call deflection approach of AXA improves the customer journey. For specific situations such as a damages claim, customers are offered an alternative digital channel to complete their enquiry. This strategy reduces the customer’s waiting time and helps AXA better manage incoming requests.
To discover how a digital engagement platform can enhance your customer experience strategy, visit RingCentral.
By Julien Rio, CCXP, Senior Director of Marketing, RingCentral