The way that customers engage with businesses has irreversibly changed. Contact centres need to adapt: consumers will no longer settle for lengthy calls and generic communications, and instead expect flexibility and personalisation. People want communications that echo the ease and convenience with which they speak with friends and family. A big part of this is being able to seamlessly interact across various channels, including conventional avenues like SMS messaging, email and telephone, as well as other popular mediums like iMessage, RMS and WhatsApp. Today, this sort of fluid, integrated experience is akin to providing good customer relations – it is an essential part of effective business operation, and the contact centre is at the heart of this.
However, research conducted by Twilio has revealed that 96 per cent of consumers were dissatisfied with the responsiveness of the business communications they receive. When you compare this with the 94 per cent of businesses that believed their customers were satisfied with their communications, it becomes clear that companies are not yet adapting to the new customer experience landscape. Companies need to change the way they think about their interaction with customers if they want to be successful.
Substandard communications are no longer good enough for customers. When they speak to a call centre agent, they want an experience that aligns with the way they interact socially. They want convenience and they want to feel listened to, whenever and however they choose to reach out.
Thanks to giants of the on-demand economy (such as Uber and Airbnb) who have risen to this challenge, the rules of engagement have changed. Customers are demanding contextualised communications. No matter what sector your business is in, it is paramount that you can reach customers with the right message, at the right time and via the right channel. Traditional means of communication don’t hit the right note anymore – especially if these channels are siloed from each other.
Contextualising communications is the next big step, and innovation within the contact centre space is the key. Direct and personal messaging is a great example of this, which companies such as Simply Buiness are taking on board. Customers can now message back and forth with agents, allowing the business to tailor their response to individual customers’ issues.
Simply put, a support call or email no longer cuts it for contact centres – not if you want to stay ahead of the game.
The importance of responsiveness
Though restructuring and rebuilding contact centres may seem a costly investment, the payback is huge in terms of being able to continue to serve the needs of customers. While companies might feel that their product is the most important aspect of their business, research suggests that good communications is a significant factor in the customer’s decision to spend money. 97 per cent of those surveyed suggested that they would be more inclined to spend with businesses who are timely in their responses.
40 per cent of UK customers assess their communications experiences as ‘fair to terrible’. The contact centre is definitely an area where there is room for improvement, or better still, an area where businesses can get ahead of the game.
One size does not fit all
Given the possibilities now offered by the cloud, it is not good enough for contact centres to offer a single solution across the board. Agility and bespoke solutions are the key to building an effective relationship with customers. It is now plausible to build a dynamic network from the ground up, and this should be the standard.
Businesses have now been handed back control, so they can pursue the tailored experience they want with relative ease. With customised solutions comes satisfied end-users. This will have a significant impact on whether customers come back to your business or go elsewhere.
Developers are key
Today, contact centres are central to customer communications, and the onus is on businesses to utilise their developers when looking to streamline and improve existing processes. Businesses must therefore place value on their people, as they are the ones who will influence the direction of change in the customer experience
Building a contact centre on cloud-based APIs enables this future proofing: whether it’s support for emerging channels or integration of third-party applications, software is flexible where hardware is rigid. The agility of your software and its ability to adapt to the continuing changes in the customer experience space is instrumental to the growth and sustainability of any company. It is crucial not to lose sight of these new rules of engagement, or businesses risk falling behind for good in the race to meet their customers’ demands.
Patrick Kolencherry is Senior Product Marketing Manager, Twilio Flex
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