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Consumer behaviour has changed permanently, so businesses must adapt

The pandemic drove a stark shift in consumer behaviour, with the near-ubiquity of online leading to a popularity surge in a range of new customer service communications channels. According to TelcoSwitch, now is the time for businesses to overhaul their omnichannel capabilities, or risk being left behind. 

Research suggests that the average customer uses six touch points when making a purchase decision, compared to just two at the turn of the millennium. While the phone used to be the main point of contact for customers, this has expanded to other communications tools including social media and, most recently like chatbots which can deliver instant responses.

For Russell Lux, CEO at TelcoSwitch, it is key that businesses take steps now to not only introduce and enhance the channels that customers like to use but ensure the adoption of any new touch points is part of a unified, cohesive omnichannel strategy. 

Lux said: “We live in a hyper-connected age, and the pandemic accelerated this shift even further. Customers still want to speak on the phone or have a face-to-face conversation, but they’re equally likely to start their interaction using a chatbot, before jumping to social media or other forms of communication. And these preferences differ across groups of people. For example, younger consumers are far more likely to embrace these newer communications channels both pre and post purchase, and that pre purchase experience will influence their willingness to buy.”

“Companies should be able to provide consumers with a choice of communications channels relative to the customers preference, but it’s pivotal not only to provide these channels of communication, but to deliver the best possible experience. For example, where a chatbot cannot resolve a query and hands the conversation over to an agent, the discussion or questions posed should be relayed to that agent to avoid repetition.”

Currently 76% of customers now expect consistent interactions across different departments. To achieve this, businesses need to increase investment in omnichannel capabilities with a major focus on intelligent AI-driven routing that enables even the most complex interaction patterns to be dealt with effectively. 

Lux continued: “Meeting customer expectations is one thing but with so many organisations competing for the same customers, it’s important to exceed expectations. Utilising AI when communicating with a customer can elevate the experience and keep customers loyal to your brand as a result. Modern technology means AI can now, for example, analyse a call recording for keywords, score that call according to how successful the AI determined the interaction was, and notify supervisors where it was determined the agent would benefit from further training or commands praise for a job well done.” 

As a result of these shifting consumer habits and expectations, in 2022 it is estimated that 50% of all contact centre deployments will be Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solutions with omnichannel capabilities. 

Lux concluded: “Following the events of the pandemic, the modern consumer no longer follows the same trends and behaviours as a few years ago. They demand a near-perfect experience and given the wealth of choice consumers have, they can easily drop everything and move onto the next business. Organisations that deliver a high-quality omnichannel offering will be the ones that will retain customers and stay ahead in this new age of communication.” 

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