By Scott Kolman, Five9
It goes without saying that 2020 was a wild ride for most businesses. Many factors have created business challenges that decision makers never thought they'd be considering. Timetables were moved up; long-term strategies were quickly implemented and technology innovations were applied. However, only 60% of businesses had a business continuity plan in place when the pandemic started. Now, as businesses start working through what will be their new normal, prioritizing the focus on customer experience is becoming an important theme across the corporate world.
Customer Service Continues To Evolve
The role of customer service has elevated in importance over the last year. Where once customer service was an endpoint, a supplemental system for product and service sales, it has become an all-encompassing factor in business operations at all points in the sales funnel. With that, consumer expectations and needs of customer service and adequate plans for delivering competent and comprehensive customer service are at the top of the list for many business decision makers. From customer satisfaction, experience, and loyalty to revenue growth, customer service is more integral than ever before.
According to the Five9 Customer Service Index 2020: Business Decision Makers, a survey that targeted decision makers at companies with more than 1,000 employees (on average) across eight verticals, the importance of customer service rings true throughout the business world. The survey found that 95% of respondents perceived customer service as very important, while 85% of respondents perceived customer loyalty as very important. While this variation makes sense, with customer service relating to the transaction taking place in the moment and loyalty referring to customer engagement over time, both are incredibly important to consider when making any sort of business change.
Customer service has quickly melded into the overall customer experience. It's the customer experience that decision makers must consider when talking about customer service. A great customer experience is about engaging consumers in a way that exceeds their expectations throughout their journey and interactions with a brand, building that relationship. This includes the quality of the product or service, customer service and support, and the sales and post-sales experience. More and more businesses recognize that customer service has become more than just picking up the phone and solving post-sales issues. Customer service and customer experience need to relate directly to customer loyalty and company growth.
All Factors Considered
So how does customer service tie into standard and expected business factors? We know it's all connected, but every variable holds a different weight with decision makers. For instance, revenue growth was a top factor, with 83% of respondents rating it as very important. Revenue growth is predictive, and one of the predictors to revenue growth is customer loyalty and retention, meaning that an overall satisfactory customer experience would directly correlate to revenue growth.
Improved Customer Satisfaction was rated by 77% of respondents as very important, following revenue growth. On a macro level this varied by industry, but the trend shows that businesses are aware of the correlation. The customer experience is something that can be influenced, managed, and tracked using the appropriate tools and strategies, giving companies the ability to learn their customers' behaviors and adjust accordingly, which ultimately builds customer loyalty.
Knowing that customer experience is much more than just voice conversations, companies are looking for innovative ways to track these interactions and learn from them. While many businesses are still focused on the more fundamental goals of improving customer satisfaction and increasing customer loyalty, 90% of respondents noted that the digital transformation of the contact center holds some importance to their business. Digital transformation, in this case meaning the implementation of the right software and processes to engage customers on their terms and track customer experience data, can have a tremendous impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty, revenue growth, and employee satisfaction.
Employee satisfaction and streamlining operations were less-considered factors in the overall customer experience game plan, but decision makers are still taking note of both. Employee satisfaction has a direct correlation to better customer service, leading to a better customer experience. 78% of respondents rated it as very important, especially in the retail and healthcare industries. Larger enterprises noted that streamlining operations is a critical component of digital transformation, with 65% of respondents rating it as very important. A smooth transition across all interaction channels as the customer moves through the overall experience leads to increased customer loyalty.
It All Leads To Purchasing
Delivering a differentiated or superior customer experience ultimately leads to increased customer retention and greater spend on products or services. Decision makers understand the role that trust plays in the decision-making experience, and how that is perceived by the customer. 72% of survey respondents rated overall trust in the company as very important, an increase by 10% year over year. Now, more than ever, customer trust is paramount to customer loyalty, retention, and repeat business. Trust in a company is earned through factors such as pricing, ease of integration into existing technologies, and product innovation (and implementation of such).
In summary, decision makers are cognizant of the role of customer service and the importance of how the overall customer experience leads to increased sales and customer retention. The customer journey is never over and now, more than ever, is the journey that every business needs to ensure is one without incident.
About The Author
Scott Kolman is Senior Vice President, Marketing for Five9.