By Doug Overton

Doug Overton

“Surely this presents an opportunity for all those brands in our lives that influence so deeply how we work and play.” – Doug Overton, Head of Consulting & Analysis at WDS, A Xerox Company.

Like most people, I’ve been on the receiving end of poor customer care from a variety of technology, communications and media providers.  Indeed, I am all too familiar with that ‘customer care no man’s land’ as you wait to be put through a triage of support levels or simply can’t find a way to do what you want online.  It’s horribly frustrating.

When I saw the results of our latest consumer research, The State of Customer Service 2015, it really struck a chord with me. One of the main findings was that more than half (54%) of consumers said they would be willing to pay more for better customer service.

Surely this presents an opportunity for all those brands in our lives that influence so deeply how we work and play.

No Frills

These days, I liken technology buying to supermarkets. If you want cheaper prices and don’t mind a lack of assistants in the store or on the cash registers, then you’ll be OK with a no frills retailer.

If you don’t expect to pick your goods from cardboard boxes and would like personal service when you can’t find an item, then you’ll choose a higher end retailer.

SOCS Montage2

Reserve your free copy of the State of Customer Service 2015 study.

Weary Consumers

Suppliers of tech, comms and media compete on price, and consumers expect that their customer experience will be the same no matter which brand they chose.

But now, people are realizing their chosen devices and services aren’t all made equal.

Still, getting the right service for the right task at the right time is far too rare.

Opportunities

Our study found that consumers juggle eight to 10 tech, comms and media brands in their lives simultaneously.  Ninety percent of consumers feel these brands don’t understand our needs. Almost half of us prefer digital contact, and, by 2025, we don’t expect call centers will be around.

Surely, there is a glaring opportunity for all technology, comms and media suppliers (frills or no frills, innovation led or legacy bound) to move away from the half-baked care solutions of old.

As I live and breathe care automation every day, my call to action to tech, comms and media suppliers is to embrace three things: omnichannel business intelligence, effective knowledge management practice and machine learning / automation.

In short, many care providers fail to deliver an effective omnichannel experience through a lack of inter-departmental intelligence, systems and process. Websites and mobile apps provide a wealth of opportunities for self-care consumer support, but are rarely furnished with the necessary tools or content to prevent a call into the contact center. A company’s Web self-help portal should have solutions that mirror the issues currently being handled within the call center, not simply a speculative selection of FAQs.

Machine learning and knowledge management practice can help deliver this Utopian omnichannel consumer experience. However, each individual support channel must have the ability to learn and organically evolve based on the interactions of its counterparts. Only then can we see the right product for the right channel at the right time AND critically (so often neglected) channels that actually ‘talk’ to each other. This can give us one, consistent experience.

I believe a blended omnichannel is the way forward, and is more achievable some organizations realize. I say that as a professional, and as an individual. It’s the only acceptable solution for those of us hyper-tasking in our everyday lives.

I know some companies are starting to get it right. How much better will it be for consumers when providers actually come to grips with the customer experience?

Until I know I can fix everything where and when I want, I will remain one of the 50 percent of consumers who will pay more to secure good customer service.

In the meantime – buyer beware – we could be in for a bumpy ride.

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