Today’s customer service excels when CX and technology mold to customers’ schedules instead of vice versa.
No one likes doing chores. If we did, they’d be hobbies. When customers are forced to cram customer service into their busy schedules or go out of their way to shape their day around an antiquated CX, solving even simple problems can end up feeling like a chore.
The development of an on-demand economy building convenience and availability into everything we do and the prevalence of smartphones giving us the ability to complete tasks during small moments of free time have shown customers a world where their interactions with brands can adapt to their schedules. Customer service today should meet the flexibility of digital channels and provide successful resolutions to customers on their time, whenever and wherever they need it. CX today fails when customers are tied to their desk phones, computers, offices, or normal business hours.
“CX today fails when customers are tied to their desk phones, computers, offices, or normal business hours.”
Today’s technology-infused society experiences brands and interacts with businesses at a different rate than ever before. Just a few years ago if a customer wanted to purchase anything from new car parts to kitchen appliances to clothes they first had to find time in their busy lives to visit a store. Today online e-commerce shoppers fit purchases into the course of their daily lives without having to go anywhere.
Online retail has become more efficient, effective, and enjoyable for customers by the day. The market is growing rapidly. The market share of the online retail sector has risen from below 5 percent in the late 1990s to about 12 percent in 2019, according to the Commerce Department, and will continue to gain traction as customer expectations grow. Digital experiences and the benefits of quick responses available 24/7 have become the standard modern consumers measure every brand interaction against.
The rise of convenient online shopping and major players in the on-demand economy like rideshare apps and short-term leasing have raised the bar for every customer interaction — including customer service. The convenience and timeliness of digital experiences have fundamentally changed the modern CX landscape.
Service On Customers' Schedules
Customer service can’t be limited to business hours only anymore. Consumers expect the ability to get answers anytime 24/7. Customers expect off-business hours capabilities from more and more brands. Convenience is more important than ever before.
Recently, I needed support from the manufacturer of our adjustable bed. Five months ago it suddenly stopped working. I wasn’t able to fix the issue until just yesterday because the manufacturer’s customer service department is only available weekdays from 8 AM — 5 PM. With a busy workload, office, and travels, I’m rarely at home during business hours. Since I needed to go through the procedure of fixing the bed & remote while on the phone with customer service I couldn’t fix the issue until I happened to work from home yesterday for other reasons.
The phone call only took 10 minutes before my bed was in perfect working order. Customer service probably considers this a success. A customer called in and got their problem solved relatively quickly on their first call. The experience, however, was far from satisfying. If this customer service center deployed tutorial videos, a walkthrough, or a 24/7 accessible knowledge base I would have had a much better customer experience — and it wouldn’t have taken five months to solve such a simple issue.
Success In the Small Moments
Even when customers can connect with customer service during business hours, traditional CX doesn’t fit with modern expectations. As with most business people, I’ve spent many hours of my career on airplanes and at airports. I’ll never forget one scene from the Dulles Aiport: to get from one terminal to the other, passengers use trams that zip from one terminal to the next. One day while descending the escalator to my tram I looked out over the crowd below me. Everyone was standing the same way.
Every single person was looking down. They were not focussed on the people next to them or the clock letting them know the tram was 2 minutes away. They were connected to their phone, focussed on completing some task in the small amount of time they had to spend just standing around waiting for their ride. Whether it was playing a game, reading an email, sending a message, or some other task, everyone was using their waiting time for a purpose. Our smartphones have given us the ability to accomplish dozens of tasks in the short little moments of empty activity in our daily lives. Modern customer service needs to be flexible enough to fit into these moments. CX success today means solving customer problems while they wait for their tram at a loud, busy airport.
Empower Your Customers
Today’s digital customer service experiences need to be flexible enough or fast enough to fit into the busy lives of consumers. Customers expect solutions to deliver results while waiting in the elevator, taking a rideshare to their next destination, or enjoying their lunch break. With the speed and capabilities of digital solutions like knowledgebases, Visual IVR, and other on-demand customer service solutions, customers know the brands they interact with have the potential to meet the new era of expectations. Antiquated CX means forcing customers to build their schedules around interactions with customer service. CX success today means empowering customers to solve problems whenever and wherever they are, even in the small moments they have available in their day-to-day lives. The days of staying tied to a phone call, waiting for an email response, or carving hours out of the day to get the problem solved must be in the past if today’s brands expect to deliver the best customer service and keep customers satisfied.