Customers want an accurate, relevant, and complete answer to their question upon first contact, so they can get back to what they were doing before the issue arose. Forrester data shows that 55% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question; 77% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

It's no surprise that our recent survey data shows that customers of all ages are increasingly using self-service channels (web, mobile, IVR)  for a first point of contact for customer service. In fact, for the first time in the history of our survey, respondents reported using the FAQ pages on a company's website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Self-service gives you that "pain-free" experience that consumers want. Customers escalate the harder questions to a live agent – whether its chat, email or a phone agent – and these calls become opportunities to help build stronger relationships with your customers to garner their long-term loyalty.

What is comforting is that the 2015 survey results from Dimension Data is saying the same thing too. This report is based on responses from over 900 global contact center decision makers covering 12 industry verticals. Some of their key findings say that "Customers want a frictionless, easy, and immediate journey on channels of their choice. They want a connected omnichannel journey across channels. Complexity levels are intensifying as contact centers evolve into channel resolution hubs."

But when you look at today's contact center, our data shows that they are not keeping up with customer expectations. For example, only a third of contact centers deploy chat; less than a third deploy social customer care, and its no wonder that a third of chat users and half of twitter users are dissatisfied with customer service over these channels. What does this mean:

  • Customer service organizations have to go digital – the right way. Customer service organizations can't rely on the current set of siloed implementations of digital technologies that don't share the same data, use the same business processes or share the same UI and user experiences. This does not support the omnichannel customer who wants to seamlessly move between channels.
  • Customer service organizations have to empower their agents. They must invest in for example, omnichannel customer service solutions, unified queuing, routing and reporting, knowledge management, process guidance to handhold agents through standardized resolution paths. This allows the agents to focus on the conversation at hand instead of struggling with the toolset. Our new tech radar spells out the business value and maturity of modern customer service technologies.
  • Customer service organizations must retain agents. Agents can no longer only be proficient on a single channel, but must be retained to handle inquiries over a broad range of media types. However, don’t fall into the trap of having agents simultaneously manage multiple channels as this hampers productivity.