Less than half of global organisations invest in customer experience
Merchants research over the last two years has clearly demonstrated the need for human-led support in creating and providing a positive, tailored customer experience. Despite this, only half of today’s organisations are investing in tools to support their customer experience agents.
Despite the rise in the availability of digital channels in the last 18 months, our Q2 2021 consumer survey found that 83% of consumers prefer to speak to an agent when contacting an organisation – up from 67% in 2020. NTT’s 2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, however, found that only 48% of organisations say they have the necessary technology to support customer experience agents.
“While most organisations in South Africa made investments into digital innovation around their customer support during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that consumers have been more drawn to human interaction – possibly due to feeling isolated during the various levels of lockdown. Our research also shows that for high-value services or complex problems, consumers are far more likely to want to interact with a human representative directly,” explains Zain Patel, Managing Director at Merchants and a contributing author to the 2021 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report.
Investing in Employee Experience for the best CX
“In the last 12 months, problem solving emerged as the number one trait consumers are looking for in a customer service agent. It is critical that organisations are prioritising and investing in their employee experience and augmenting their employees’ capabilities to ensure they are able to offer the best possible service to the end customer.”
If organisations can get this right first time, it means that customers will be able to choose their preferred channels and switch between digital and human interactions seamlessly and efficiently. While the last 18 months have largely been about enabling employees to work remotely, the NTT report notes that there are two top areas that organisations will be focusing on in the next year in order to enhance their customer experience capabilities:
- employee enablement – including technical skills and training
- employee enhancement – including knowledge and navigation tools
CX Tools are Critical
This is important, as 4 in 5 organisations agree that their customer experience teams are often overwhelmed with too much work and only 50% say agents are equipped with the right tools to enable full capability and augmented customer insights – which are critical for delivering seamless experiences.
When asked what systems and tools they have available to enhance interactions between employees and customers, robotic process automation (RPA) to automate manual tasks was most popular amongst industry leaders (45.7%). They are also investing in AI and machine learning driven support (45.2%) and knowledge management systems (44.6%).
Due to these investments, over the last 12 months:
- 49.6% report having increased customer engagement
- 48.4% report increased customer loyalty
- 47.8% report an improved employee experience
These results demonstrate that investment into the right tools will most certainly deliver the desired outcome when combined with the right agents.
The Right Talent
“Digital recruitment tools need to be considered as part of best practice technology tools for driving any organisation forward,” notes Patel. “Not only do these tools remove barriers to entry for job seekers by matching candidates to available roles using behavioural profiling rather than traditional factors like education or experience, but they also allow organisations to scale their operations quickly and effectively when necessary.” The upcoming festive season would be a good example of when a retail organisation might need to scale their customer experience operations to keep up with increased demand.
“Customer experience is the single most important differentiator for organisations in 2021 and beyond, and this year’s report clearly shows how critical it is to invest in the employee experience to remain relevant in this regard. Industry leaders are already seeing the rewards, and followers have no choice but to catch up – or risk losing market share and customer loyalty at an alarming pace,” concludes Patel.