How to offer the uber-immediate customer experiences today consumers expect and demand

Are you liable to get antsy if a text message that you’ve sent goes unanswered for a couple of hours or more? You and a growing number of your fellow Australians.

The days of us waiting for a reply by return of post, or mentally allowing someone a day or two to answer an email are now very long gone. In today’s times, the average person reaches the stage of foot-tapping impatience if they haven’t received a response to a message within minutes, rather than hours or days.

Service now!

Many consumers have begun to carry those attitudes and expectations into their dealings with businesses. When we reach out to an organisation for information, advice or assistance with products and services, we want a positive reaction – immediately, not later that day or sometime the next. If we get it and subsequently enjoy a satisfactory resolution to our enquiry or request, we’re likely to come back for seconds and spread the word to our social and professional networks.

Convenience and immediacy are part of the reason 55 per cent of consumers say they prefer text messaging over other communication channels, according to the Yotpo Shoppers Tell All Consumer Survey Report. 43 per cent said they wanted the ability to quickly communicate one-to-one with brands and businesses and texting enabled them to do so.

Keeping the customer satisfied

Not sure if your customer contact centre is capable of delivering immediate, high-quality customer experiences – the kind that generates five star Google reviews, rather than social media pile-ons – or what you need to do to get up to speed? Here are some tips to help you lift your game this year.

Open up your digital channels

Voice has been the traditional communication channel of choice for many businesses but it shouldn’t be the only one. Providing digital options – chat, messaging and SMS – makes it easier for customers to get in touch, at a time of their choosing. Even if interactions are of a confidential or sensitive nature, proper security diligence should make it possible for customers to connect with your contact centre digitally and safely, as and when it suits them.

Integrate your systems

Making it easier for customers to get in touch is one thing; being able to provide them with relevant information and advice on the spot is quite another. If your communications platform operates in a silo-like fashion, it can be challenging for contact centre agents to access the data they need to resolve an issue immediately. Give them digital access to key solutions – think order management, CRM and internal chat – and they have a much better chance of sorting things out straight away.

Empower your agents

Provided, of course, you’ve empowered them to do so. Instant, positive experiences aren’t created by telling customers that they’ll need to get back in touch with the company during office hours, or wait hours for a supervisor who’s able to handle whatever complex or curly question they’ve called in with. Train your team to manage a wider variety of enquiries and scenarios, give them the authority to make decisions without consulting senior staff, and watch your net promoter scores soar.

Setting yourself up for success

Instant customer experience is about setting your whole team up to succeed, with an array of channels customers want to use and the systems that allow them to communicate across the enterprise, to solve issues seamlessly and fast.

It’s also about fostering a culture that puts surprising and delighting customers and prospects front and centre, each and every time they interact with your organisation.

At a time when customer expectations around responsiveness and service are rising rapidly, it makes sense to make it a very high priority.

Author: Brendan Maree. Brendan is 8×8 Vice President for Asia Pacific and has more than 20 years’ experience working with start-ups, privately-owned and listed organisations. Brendan has a strong understanding of cloud-based technologies and operational models as well as substantial experience leading organisations through cultural and operational changes resulting in increased profitability. 

This article was first published on Inside Small Business.