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Service level expectationsModern customer behaviour, including an overwhelming shift to device-orientated interaction, compels companies to ensure that they are meeting expectations in order to stay competitive and relevant – so says Wynand Smit, CEO of INOVO, a leading contact centre business services provider.

“An appetite for immediate gratification driven by the consumer adoption of platforms such as WhatsApp, Web chat or other instant channels and services has led to the expectations of service evolving,” Smit states, “if your company isn’t adapting and improving systems and processes to account for these changes, then your agents and customers will be experiencing frustration,” he adds.

Lose pain points and get from A – Z

According to the Digital Customer 2017 report, 85% of South Africans say they prefer self-service options as this allows them to manage their time and costs. The implementation of virtual assistants and chatbots (or even a knowledgebase of FAQs and answers) provides additional capacity to customer service departments and Web sites, ensuring that only complex queries are funnelled to live agents, while simple queries are addressed timeously and efficiently via automation or self-service.

The “expectation chasm”

Many businesses recognise the need for introducing multiple channel support options to meet the needs of their customers, but they often fail to deliver on what is typically expected from these relatively instant communication channels – immediate assistance and real-time resolution.

To use an example, an online retailer may choose to offer live chat support via their app, as well as e-mail and phone support for their customers. However, if the chat facility is frequently offline, and e-mail support responses are slow, it forces customers (who may prefer to use digital channels) to phone for support irrespective of the alternative contact channels offered. This essentially defeats the purpose of the introduction of these channels in the first place – particularly if the e-tailer markets to a predominantly younger, digital savvy market with a digital or mobile communication preference. The immediacy of certain communication channels sets up a certain expectation regarding the speed of the feedback and resolution – one that businesses need to meet in order to avoid long-lasting customer irritation and disappointment.

Since 70% of customers would still like to speak to a live agent, especially for complex interactions, the need for multiple channel options remains, but with those multiple channels, process optimisation is necessary to deliver the kind of service that customers demand and anticipate.

Plugging in to an online world

“These expectations are only going to be multiplied,” Smit states, “if global giants such as Amazon and Google are pushing to fill the domestic environment with smart devices offering voice access, improved convenience and enhanced automation, this echoes the contact centre environment where customers want to conduct interactions without spending excess time on hold or make repeat contacts. It is critical that businesses align their business processes, systems and strategies to the needs and expectations of their dynamic customer base. The customer experience is king, and businesses cannot afford to be left behind by delivering sub-par service,” he concludes.

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