In every customer interaction is a moment of truth, a point when they will decide to take a course of action that will have either a positive or negative impact on the business. It is possible to own this moment and increase the number of positive outcomes. However, far too many organisations fail to adequately prepare themselves for this moment and are blind to the signals of intent the customer is providing.
The challenge and opportunity for businesses today is that there are far more moments of truth than ever before. In fact, the 2012 global Consumer Channel Preference survey (commissioned by NICE Systems) reveals that 86% of consumers are now interacting more often, or at the same level with their service providers than two years ago. Crucially, it is not only the number of customer interactions that is increasing but how they are choosing to interact and transact that is also changing. Our research shows that consumers use an average of six different channels to interact with their service providers and it is only standard mail that is showing signs of declining usage.
So, in order to make the right impact at the moment of truth, organisations need to understand the interaction journey their customers are making across these channels.
The web is unanimously the first channel of choice
In recent years, financial services businesses have been at the forefront in pushing customers towards self-service channels, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the web is now the first port of call for the vast majority of customers, with the uptake of social networks, smartphone apps and SMS also gaining popularity. In fact, 78% of respondents to the survey visit their providers’ web channels weekly and the reason for their repeated return is that it is the most convenient for them, and in the main, they are able to complete their task successfully. However, self-service channels show no sign of totally replacing more traditional assisted interactions such as speaking to a live representative either in branch, or at the contact centre.
Whilst 76% of respondents stated that they could complete most of their tasks online, if further assistance were needed, they would typically call the contact centre. In fact, the contact centre is universally the second choice for customers to escalate their issue, regardless of the channel they start out from. But, whilst it is the second choice, when customers decide to pick up the telephone they expect to speak with an agent who is informed and able to continue their customer journey unbroken from the point at which they left the previous interaction. They expect the agent to be empowered with the skills to resolve their enquiry quickly, efficiently and immediately. However, whilst the financial services sector is leading the way online, only 50% of customers indicated satisfaction in their interactions with agents. A further word of warning is the use of interactive voice response (IVR) to deflect calls, as our survey indicates that it can have a significant negative impact on customer satisfaction and 60% will try to avoid it at all costs.
Now a demand for an unbroken multi-channel customer journey
It is the demand for a continuous and seamless interaction journey that presents one of the biggest challenges in meeting the expectations of customers (in particular Generation Y -those currently aged between 18 to 30), that have evolved to become more technically savvy, increasingly intolerant, and impatient of service that falls short.
The problem that many organisations face is an apparent disconnect between the siloed approach to managing their communication channels and the linear experience the customer expects in journeying through them. Also, the sheer volume of interactions in all forms has resulted in what is typically referred to as Big Data and whilst organisations have become adept at capturing and storing calls, emails, online chat sessions transaction histories, feedback surveys etc, many are far less accomplished at interacting with it. Although some data is structured in CRM, marketing and ordering systems, much of the most potentially valuable insight is unstructured.
As a result, the constant flood of data – the ‘voice of the customer’ – often goes unheard, lying dormant, and its potential to positively impact the moment of truth is wasted. However, a growing number of organisations are taking advantage of the latest cross-channel interaction analytics technologies to reveal clear insight into customer needs, wants, expectations, frustrations and intentions.
The value of listening to the voice of the customer
Customer feedback, real-time decision-making and interaction analytics can be used to interrogate customer data in all of its forms and wherever it resides, pulling out and presenting the right people with the right information at the right time. This can range from back-office business processes and workforce optimisation improvements (not only in customer service but across all departments and all communication channels), to the front-office where contact centre agents are presented with information in real-time to advise on the next best action (based on the progress of the current interaction, previous interactions and customer history) during the call to create the desired outcome for both the customer and the organisation.
Owning the moment of truth isn’t just about how you perform at a given time on a given day, it is about creating a close-loop cycle whereby the organisation is constantly listening to the customer across all channels and using this insight to inform everything it does. Get it right and you will be rewarded with new customers, increased cross sell and up sell success, strengthened loyalty and more advocates, reduced churn and ultimately more efficient, productive and profitable, customer-focused business.
Now you are at your moment of truth! What are you going to do right now to ensure you are listening and responding to the voice of your customers?
The 2012 Consumer Channel Preference Survey can be downloaded free from
About the author
Craig Pumfrey is the Director of Marketing & Communications at NICE Systems.
NICE Systems is the worldwide leader of solutions that capture and analyze interactions and transactions, realize intent, and extract and leverage insights to deliver impact in real time. Driven by cross-channel and multi-sensor analytics, NICE solutions enable organisations to improve business performance, increase operational efficiency, prevent financial crime, ensure compliance, and enhance safety and security. NICE addresses the needs of customer-centric businesses with intent-based solutions. These include solutions for increasing revenue, enhancing customer experience, improving regulatory compliance, and optimizing contact centre and back office operations. NICE Enterprise solutions are implemented by contact centres of all sizes, branches, trading floors and back offices.