December 7, 2015
Technology and the internet have infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives and raised our standards of communication. If someone wants to reach a friend, whether through a call, chat, email, or social media, there are numerous channels by which to contact them. Unsurprisingly, consumers expect that same level of availability and accessibility from their favorite brands as well.
The onus then is on the contact center and customer service team to communicate with their customers where they want, when they want, and through the method of their choosing. This concept is called “omnichannel.”
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
The decline of Black Friday and rise of Cyber Monday is a perfect example of the changing dynamic between brands and consumers. Traditionally, Black Friday is the door buster sale of the year. Eager shoppers line up hours before the store opens to rush the aisles and acquire their desired product. Yet, this dynamic is quickly changing.
Last year, Black Friday revenue was down 14% compared to just two years before. It is likely that the convenience of ecommerce tools were to blame for the decline.
In that same year, a report from the National Retail Federation cited that only 55% of holiday shoppers spent money on Thanksgiving weekend, and 42% of that money was spent online. Cyber Monday is clearly on the rise, and some companies, like video game retailer GameStop, have even gone so far as to stretch their special offers an entire week. Before long, we might see Cyber Monday completely shift into Cyber Week.
The writing is on the wall, and companies like GameStop are but the first to respond. Customers will not be limited by physical location or time. Instead, they want to shop where it is most convenient for them: online in their free time through ecommerce applications. In that same way, a customer wants to engage with support services and the contact center in the manner most convenient for them: online, on the phone, or via chat.
Quick Facts on Customer Engagements from Forrester
So, how do customers want to be engaged? Forrester recently released a report, “Contact Centers Must Go Digital or Die,” which included some telling information about their preferred avenues.
- More shoppers use the Help or FAQ portion of websites than speak on the phone with customer service agents.
- Over half of shoppers polled used a chat feature in the past year.
- Half of shoppers used an online forum or support community to answer their questions.
- Over one in three customers have contacted a company using Twitter.
A 21st Century Contact Center Built for Omnichannel Support
While immediate customer service demands have pushed retailers to adopt omnichannel contact centers, every industry should follow suit. It’s not about the product or service offered, it’s about the way in which we interact with technology.
Contact Centers can support this new breed of customer service by establishing a presence and method of communication where the customer already resides. Fewer and fewer people want to speak to a live representative and even fewer still want to be put on hold. Instead, provide multiple avenues of communication and be ready to listen when the customer speaks up.
Adopting an omnichannel approach consists of three main pillars.
- Customers want more self-service solutions and less dependence on phone communications
- When actually reaching out to a company, the customer wants to do it in the medium of their choosing using familiar and convenient tools and avenues.
- The customer demands a seamless experience when interacting with a brand
UCCX and an Omnichannel Contact Center
Cisco Unified Contact Center Express (UCCX) is a contact center platform designed for the needs of the modern consumer and helps a company address one of the three omni-channel pillars. UCCX integrates email, web chat, social media, and voice into one holistic platform. It allows customers multiple options to interact with a company and provides the contact center agents with the resources they need to deliver excellent customer service in each avenue.
- Multi-Session Chat: To deal with high influxes of chat requests, agents can engage in up to five chat sessions at once.
- Predefined Agent Responses: Interacting with five customers at once can be taxing. UCCX enables agents to pre-define and save 10 common responses to speed communication.
- Audible Alerts: With multiple chat windows open, it is possible for an agent to miss an incoming chat request. UCCX creates a visual and audible cue for all incoming messages to decrease response time and prevent missed messages.
- SocialMiner: Customers are using social media more and more to communicate with or voice their opinion about companies. SocialMiner is an add on to UCCX that will scour Twitter, Facebook, and other public forums for mentions of the brand’s name. Once found, it provides a contact center agent the ability to directly respond through the add on.
- Agent Email: This feature intelligently routes emails to skilled agents and enables the agent to respond immediately.
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For Further Reading
[Infographic] Cold Hard Numbers: Social Media Stats on the Customer Experience