Heading into the holiday this year, people are not ready to relinquish the conveniences of shopping from the couch. The trend is forcing retailers to improve digital marketplaces, including customer service. Challenges from strained supply chains during the past year have brands scrambling to support customers across every channel.
We surveyed more than 800 contact center employees across the U.S and the U.K. to find out more about the evolution of their personal consumer habits and their lived experience as support professionals. Key areas of focus for this survey, and the subsequent report, looked closely into:
- How contact center agents think as consumers when seeking out answers
- Transformation of the contact center into a revenue center
- Which tools agents want in their tech stack in order to be more effective
- Contact center employees’ access to mental health resources
Self-Service vs. Contact Center Preferences
The survey found that people are very willing to self-serve. More than two-thirds of respondents reported that they search for information on their own before reaching out to customer support. Chatbots are the most preferred channel consumers use to find answers, followed by FAQs or online help centers.
The results of these efforts come with mixed success. Only three in ten survey takers say FAQs always answer their questions. “Customer service teams are operating with fewer employees and greater demand,” explains Lesley Heizman, Product Manager, Lucidworks. “We see that FAQs and help centers aren’t being updated at the rate they used to be, which means customers could be hitting a dead-end with outdated information that doesn’t resolve their issue.”
When customers do call for help, the predominant reasons are pretty clear – they have exhausted their self-service options, or their issue was too nuanced and they needed human support. In either case, consumers reaching out to contact centers want and need effective and empathetic assistance ASAP.
Support Centers Drive Revenue
Performance indicators in contact centers are also evolving, with an increasing amount of them tied to revenue. More than half of respondents confirmed selling is “part of their job” and up to 84% reported that they “sometimes or always” upsell or cross-sell.
“Standard customer service KPIs, including average response time and resolved issues per hour, influence the tickets that support agents pick up,” says Heizman. “Revenue-driving support departments are now shifting these metrics to include the value of selling efforts. Companies must shift the way they think about the contact center—upselling may increase average time to resolution but it could be better for the bottom line.”
The trend makes sense. It works too well. Nearly 80% of respondents say they’ve been offered additional products or services and a half of them say they are likely to purchase the additional items they find helpful.
50% of customers that receive recommendations for “additional items” tend to purchase the suggested goods or services.
Tooling Up Contact Centers
High-performing contact centers can provide best-in-class customer experiences while also creating revenue, but supporting support agents with effective technology is critical. We asked the hands-on professionals for insights on what works well, and what doesn’t. The majority of respondents noted that internal chat is one of their most valuable tools, followed by personalization, and then a variety of other touchpoints.
Regarding the quantity and quality of tools available to agents, about a quarter of survey takers said the number of tools they use is not ideal (they have either too many or too few) and nearly a third reported that even some of the most useful tools still don’t work well enough.
Contact Centers and Mental Health
In a field already prone to high-stress working conditions, pandemic-driven shopping trends have dialed up the pressure on contact center agents and, in turn, brought an increased focus on their mental health. From meditation apps to support groups, the survey revealed that a majority of companies are attempting to combat stress and burnout by providing mental and physical health benefits.
A closer look at the data also reveals an interesting divide in the perception of support and working conditions between entry- and senior-level employees. Those on the front lines of customer interaction (junior-level employees vs. director and VP roles) reported in greater numbers that they don’t get the breaks they need to most effectively do their job.
Connect the Customer Service Journey
As companies respond to increased demands for high-quality support options, innovation and investment must remain a primary focus. Download the report today to dive deeper into the survey’s key findings around channel preferences, cross-selling and upselling, and accessibility to mental health resources.
Contact us today to learn how Lucidworks can help your team create powerful search and discovery applications for your customers and employees.