Recent research from McKinsey shows that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have sped up the pace of digital transformation by several years. Even so, customers are still experiencing friction when communicating with businesses and service providers. Here's a look at the top communication pain points and what they say about how to improve customer experience today.
Customer Communication Pain Points
According to Vonage's latest customer engagement research, customers experience a range of frustrations when businesses don't communicate well. Specifically, customers hate it when they receive a message update but can't reply to it directly; when they can't switch between different communication channels while having a conversation; or—the perpetual pet peeve—when they have to repeat themselves to an agent after they've already explained their problem to a chatbot or another agent.
Customers are open to using alternate channels if their preferred channel isn’t available, yet businesses still make the mistake of limiting the options their customers have for getting in touch with them.
For example, when customers call in and no one is available, offering no other channels for getting help can kill the conversation. When customers can't connect with a human at the moment they need to, that absence of personal service becomes a pain point. Yes, customers appreciate quick answers from self-help chatbots, but when the bot doesn't solve their problem and there's no option to connect to a customer service professional, they become frustrated. Likewise, when they call in and hear that the wait time is very long but the business doesn't offer them the option of a callback, customers feel their time isn’t being respected.
Customer Experience Do’s and Don'ts
Customers appreciate businesses and service providers that treat communication like a two-way conversation. They don't want to do business with brands that are unavailable or not responsive to their inquiries. These communication do's and don'ts offer effective strategies on how to improve customer experience.
Prioritize two-way communication. Customers seek a dialogue instead of one-way messaging that doesn't give them a chance to respond. With that in mind, create opportunities for two-way conversations by enabling responsive AI or giving customers pathways to speak to humans.
Offer multiple channels. According to Vonage's research, channel preferences diversified during the pandemic. Allow customers to connect with you via chat, social media, messaging apps, and video, in addition to voice and email.
Let customers switch channels. Customers are busy juggling work and their personal lives. For this reason, they'll appreciate it if you let them switch between channels, so they can keep the conversation going while they're on the go.
Give access to human agents. The personal touch matters, especially if a customer has a complex issue. By connecting them with human agents, you'll be demonstrating that your brand is human, too.
Provide self-help options. Some customers just want to quickly find answers on their own. If you give them self-help options, many of them will be glad to solve their own issues.
Connect customers with the right resources. Interactive voice response (IVR) isn't so helpful if it connects your customers with the wrong resources, so make sure your IVR menus are up to date and intuitive.
Limit channels. After having conducted so much of their lives digitally during the pandemic, customers expect to engage businesses via multiple channels. Put simply, limiting those channels limits your availability.
Talk at customers. If you send a message to a customer that doesn't give them an option to respond, they will feel like you're talking at them rather than engaging them in a conversation. Offer them a way to reply, and they'll appreciate it.
Create customer communication dead ends. If a customer can't contact you via another channel when their preferred channel is unavailable, they won't have a path forward for getting their problem resolved. Keep a lookout for potential dead ends in the customer experience, and make sure you create alternate routes for customers to access.
Unnecessarily burden customers. Customers get frustrated when they feel a brand isn't respecting their time. For example, if you don't provide a callback option when wait times are lengthy, you're missing an opportunity to deliver a responsive customer experience.
Technology Tools for a Top-Notch Customer Experience
The best communication technologies for customer engagement deliver a top-notch customer experience, turning customer frustration into customer satisfaction. Cloud contact center technology supports omnichannel communications, allowing customers to engage via their preferred channels. Customer relationship management (CRM) integration gives customer support professionals timely access to records so customers don't have to repeat themselves.
Communications APIs (application programming interfaces) also enhance the customer experience. A messaging API, for example, lets you engage customers on their preferred social channels, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and more. A voice API, meanwhile, connects customers with human agents while integrating self-service options to provide a faster experience. A video API supports personal face-to-face interactions that are ideal for higher-touch customer interactions and virtual services.
Improve Customer Experience With Better Communication
As brands have digitally transformed, so too have customers—and they expect a high-quality, responsive experience. Although customers still encounter friction when communicating with businesses, their pain points represent valuable opportunities for improving the customer experience.
Using modern communications technology to streamline customer communications, brands can address customer frustrations and compete more effectively in today's business landscape.