How to embrace the double-edged expectations of your customers - Calabrio
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How to embrace the double-edged expectations of your customers

For brands and businesses seeking to navigate rising customer expectations over the past year, an interesting paradox has emerged: consumers now seek the gold-plated speed and convenience of the e-commerce world but they aren’t willing to sacrifice the human touch. This reflects the findings of a PricewaterhouseCoopers consumer survey which revealed the four most important factors in an exceptional experience are speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service. Meanwhile, ask the people who are directly involved in running a contact center or any other customer service operation what customers really want from their favorite brands and they will say ‘more expanded channels’ (63%) and ‘more emotional empathy from agents’ (62%).

How the CX paradox impacts agent wellbeing

These double-edged customer expectations are highlighted in the challenges faced by those on the frontline. Seventy percent of contact agents say they are managing more calls than they did 18 months ago thanks to a marked rise in the good old voice communication. In fact, 1 in 3 agents say their biggest challenge is ‘too many calls’. Over the same period, 60% of agents say they are managing far more non-voice calls and that meeting rising customer expectations is a top challenge for the contact center (73%).

Most worryingly, all this is having a serious and detrimental impact on agent wellbeing. Stress puts a negative filter on just about every metric from agent satisfaction and engagement to the service those stressed agents provide. When 1 in 3 agents say they are considering leaving their jobs within the year and 96% of them are feeling ‘acutely stressed’ at least once a week, you know it is time for action.

3 ways to embrace double-edged customer expectations

Follow these three important steps towards happier agents – and customers:

  1. Recognize that complexity is the main barrier to success – at first glance, fast, omnichannel service appears to be at odds with a knowledgeable, empathetic, human touch approach. In fact, the real barrier is complexity, accepting it and then recognizing that these two apparently different objectives – omnichannel speed and in-depth human connections – actually share the same barriers within the contact center. Both require greater unification of channels for a 360-degree agent view that delivers seamless CX. Both are held back by insufficient or unsuccessful use of automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) while clunky or disconnected systems don’t collect accurate data about agent and customer behaviors.
  2. Invest in agent-empowering technologies – to enable and encourage frontline staff to deliver fast, seamless interactions with the human touch. Our own research tells us that agents appreciate the potential impact of self-service, automation and AI. Rather than fear being replaced by robots, agents now welcome innovative tech as a means to free them from tedious tasks (40%) and focus on more fulfilling and higher- value service that only experienced human agents can provide (30%).
  3. Be a smooth operator – it’s clear that many contact centers need better, smarter technology to overcome incumbent barriers and enable forward-thinking agent and CX strategies. But surely, doesn’t adding more technology sound like more complexity and more burdens? The key is seeking technologies that resolve, rather than increase complexity.

Look for contact center solutions that meet three essential criteria for resolving complexity: easy, personalized and smart. Easy to implement, learn and use, solutions should also integrate with existing core systems. Highly personalized, modern systems are built from the ground up, with the agent experience and customer journey in mind. Finally, solutions must be smart with analytics capabilities embedded in their DNA, not as an after-thought or as a series of bolt-on tools.

It’s time to embrace doubled-edged customer expectations with a strategy that keeps both agents and customers happy. In our next blogs, learn what we mean by the technology tug-of-war then use our 3-point plan to remove complexity and become a cloud-smart contact center. Check out the full report here: “Embracing double-edged customer expectations: Navigating the complexities of rising demands and digital-first customer experiences.

As Chief Marketing Officer, Ross is responsible for Calabrio’s global marketing efforts, including digital marketing, demand generation and pipeline marketing, content strategy and creation, customer marketing, partner marketing, and corporate communications. Ross is also responsible for supporting Calabrio’s partners–driving strategic technology and platform partner relationships, channel programs and marketing, and developer and services partners. Prior to joining Calabrio in 2017, Ross spent 18 years at Cisco in roles encompassing product management, product marketing and marketing, including serving as the Senior Director of Collaboration Marketing for Cisco’s nearly $5B Collaboration business. Ross holds a BA in English from Harvard University and an MBA from Babson College.
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