Unpacking the customer satisfaction crisis – What Can Contact Centres do? Tom Darnell, COO of IRIS Audio Technologies explains.
Customer satisfaction is at its lowest level since 2015, according to the latest Customer Satisfaction Index, as a result of poor issue resolution and subpar service. These statistics have broad implications for consumers and businesses alike. For customers, the figures likely indicate a lack of trust in companies during challenging times, some of which provide essential services. And for companies, poor customer satisfaction means a drop in loyalty and a potentially damaged reputation. But how do business leaders address these issues? And what are the root causes of the current crisis?
Rising costs, shrinking patience
As costs have risen, consumers have tightened their belts and looked to make their money go further. And when issues rise, they expect an efficient and professional resolution when they reach out to brands.
However, amid increasing costs, companies are streamlining their service offering to boost profits. As such, customers are increasingly unsatisfied with the level of service they are receiving, with 47.6% reporting that issues are taking longer than expected to resolve.
Clearly, companies need to rethink their strategy if cutting costs leads to a breakdown in consumer confidence – especially when essential services now cost a greater proportion of consumer budgets. If companies are increasing prices in line with inflation, customers will naturally expect a better service level as they are paying a premium price. Therefore, companies must up their game.
Modern life is increasingly time-pressured, so customers expect their issues to be handled quickly whether over the phone or via a chatbot. Long wait times erode patience and can unnecessarily escalate an issue. If consumers are unimpressed with service, this could cause them to rethink their choice of provider very quickly.
Studies have also shown that younger consumers are even more fickle than previous generations, with many choosing to change supplier after just one sub-par interaction. As customers have the luxury of choice, organisations must distinguish themselves through outstanding service, using every opportunity to impress and retain customers. Given customers often only directly interact with companies if a problem arises, issue resolution must be central to business strategy.
To increase profitability, business decision-makers are looking to make cuts to services such as contact centres. But smaller budgets lead to fewer agents, resources, and worsened customer service in many instances. The longer a customer is left on hold, the quicker they’ll want the issue resolved once connected, and the less patient they’ll be if it’s not resolved the first time. Leaders must invest wisely in the necessary services to retain customers and boost brand loyalty.
Business leaders need to fundamentally shift how they view customer experience. Too often, contact centres are seen as cost centres, which fails to acknowledge the value they bring to a business. An agent to a customer is the personification of the company itself, fundamentally shaping brand perception.
To get the most from agents, companies need to invest in training and tech which allows them to perform at their best. If agents are dealing with legacy tech, or don’t feel confident in their roles, this can ultimately lead to huge, wasted revenue. Poor audio alone leads to a massive £246m in contact centres in the UK every year, and erodes a company’s image. By rectifying this problem, businesses will be more profitable and customers are likely to be more long-term.
The tools needed to succeed
Although there is uncertainty around customer experience currently, tools are available to businesses to boost customer satisfaction.
To boost the effectiveness of service, if a query is straightforward, customers need a self-serve option to quickly resolve issues. An FAQ page, AI, or agent chatbots are sufficient to reach a resolution. From a broader business perspective, these options also prevent unnecessary waiting on the phone, streamlining operations, and ultimately saving time and money.
However, when an issue is mission-critical, consumers of all ages still choose to pick up the phone to speak to an agent. In these circumstances, a chatbot or FAQ is not a sufficient solution. As consumers have come to expect long wait times, when they finally reach an agent, they demand outstanding service. If faced with poor-quality audio and poorly trained staff, issues are often not resolved. This can exacerbate frustrations and deteriorate trust. In its most basic form, we must enable customers and agents to have clear, productive conversations to reach the desired result.
As brands try to stand out in a crowded and diverse market, customer experience should be central to ensure brand loyalty. The best brand interactions feel effortless and instill a sense of calm in customers. Ultimately this drives them to keep relying on that provider, especially as their time and money are more important than ever. Brands must keep this front of mind when creating and implementing their customer service strategies.
Tom Darnell is COO at IRIS Audio Technologies.
IRIS Clarity is an AI-powered software solution that removes distracting background noise from your VoIP and customer calls.
Real-time and bi-directional, IRIS Clarity allows participants on both sides of a call to immediately enjoy clearer sound, no matter where they are. IRIS Clarity improves focus, engagement, and wellbeing, bringing control to otherwise uncontrollable environments.
For additional information on IRIS Clarity visit their Website