Recently the CCMA released its new research report – Voice of the Contact Center Consumer 2021. There has been a huge amount of discussion about the impact of the Covid19 pandemic on contact center operations and the knock-on effect this has had on customer service/experience, not just in our industry but across the board, and the CCMA report addresses this directly.
The CCMA research asked consumers whether they felt service levels had improved, declined, or stayed the same compared with before the pandemic. Over 2,000 people were interviewed in the UK, across all genders, geographic regions and age groups. The findings make for fascinating reading.
Do consumers think that customer service has been impacted by the pandemic?
One of the main findings of the CCMA research is that the level of service that consumers perceive they have received varies enormously according to the channel that they are using to contact an organization (Telephone, Email, Webchat, etc.).
In particular, the research found that consumers who primarily make contact with organizations by phone have experienced very long wait times over the past eighteen months, and are therefore more likely to think that customer service levels have declined. In contrast, people who made use of digital channels such as Email or Webchat were more likely to feel that service levels had improved.
Many contact centers either introduced digital channels for the first time or significantly increased their use to try and meet customer needs during the pandemic. This switch to digital channels has affected different groups in different ways. For example, customers aged 34 or younger are almost twice as likely to believe that customer service has improved since before the pandemic (42% of those asked), compared to just 22% of those aged 55+.
This echoes our belief that although the popularity of digital channels continues to grow (particularly with younger consumers), the phone remains the most popular channel for contact centers and this shows no signs of changing. Certain groups of consumers have a strong preference for dealing with organizations over the telephone, and there are types of interactions that remain better suited to the telephone than any other channel. That said, the popularity of digital channels continues to rise and smart organizations can make good use of a range of different channels, filtering different kinds of interactions or groups of customers towards the channels that are most suited to them. In particular, the popularity of webchat is swiftly rising, with take-up increasing across all age groups.
It is clear that most customers still prefer human interaction, however, the pandemic has seen self-service channels such as chatbots becoming more normalized. Consumers’ willingness to self-serve jumped from 40 to 46% in just 6 months. Consequently, organizations are investing more into solutions such as CardEasy IVR which allows you to be ‘open’ 24×7, giving customers the ability to make payments without agent assistance or the need to queue. This can also be an extremely effective way to reduce the volume of calls that need to be handled by agents, as it enables you to direct simple transactions through your IVR, reducing your call waiting times and leaving your team free to deal with more complex enquiries.
Consumers are not being offered a streamlined experience
Whilst wait times are top of the list of problems that consumers report when dealing with contact centers, the second most common issue reported is that the different channels are not ‘joined up’. Consumers expect to be offered a seamless experience when dealing with an organization across multiple channels, and they resent being asked to give the same information multiple times. Using a solution such as CardEasy Digital can help address this problem by allowing you to take secure and PCI DSS compliant payments via whichever channel your customer chooses to use, meaning you do not need to ask your customers to contact you via a specific channel in order to make a payment.
Your contact center is the front line of your customers’ interaction with your brand, and the experience they have (whether good or bad) is increasingly likely to be shared publicly as well as privately. At the start of the pandemic, consumers were reasonably forgiving of service issues, understanding that organizations were struggling with new working arrangements. However, that willingness to overlook problems has significantly decreased as time has gone on and customers have lost patience with wait times and delays that are put down to the pandemic.
The key takeaways from the report published by the CCMA are:
- Efforts to deploy alternative interaction channels since the start of the pandemic are making a positive difference to the customer experience
- Self-service is becoming more normalized, particularly for payment processing
- Not everyone has or will embrace the use of new channels – the telephone is still king
- Consumer experiences of contact centers, both good and bad, are widely shared.
Using CardEasy our secure & PCI DSS compliant contact center payment solution we can help you improve your customers’ experience and decrease their waiting time:
- CardEasy Agent Assist uses DTMF masking or Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) to capture payment card details
- Using CardEasy allows your agents to process secure and PCI compliant payments wherever they are based, meaning they retain the ability to take secure payments whilst working remotely.
- Using Cardeasy in your contact center means your customer’s sensitive card data never enters your contact center (including your call recordings) and is never seen by any of your agents, de-scoping your environment from the PCI DSS compliance requirements.
- CardEasy Digital means that your agents can take payments via whichever channel your customers demand (Webchat, email, SMS, WhatsApp, etc.) rather than having to redirect them to a call queue or an IVR.
- CardEasy IVR Payments allows you to accept payments 24x7x365 when no agent assistance is required, leaving your team free to deal with more complex enquiries. This works with your existing IVR, allowing you to retain control of the customer experience.
You can read the full report from the CCMA here. If you wish to discuss anything contained in this report or find out how CardEasy can help secure payments across all of your contact center channels please do get in touch – we’d love to talk to you.