Time of the essence in keeping customers, growing business

Anujeet Verma

Time to service is crucial for customer satisfaction, and thus for retaining customers and growing revenue. This is according to Anujeet Verma, Regional Head – MEA at Freshworks, who was speaking during a webinar hosted by Freshworks in partnership with ITWeb this week.

Verma said Freshworks had analysed over 107 million customer support interactions and found that speed was the number one factor influencing customer satisfaction. “You have to value your customers’ time, or they will leave. Research shows that 66% say valuing their time is paramount; and 47% won’t complete their online purchases if they can’t find quick answers. So if there is nobody doing handholding at the time people are purchasing, they will just jump off the site,” he said.

He noted the bulk of revenue for companies came from existing customers, with many sales coming from customers who initially called in with complaints. This made it critical to ensure that contact centres offered fast service and an excellent customer experience.

Prof Adre Schreuder of the Department of Marketing at the University of Pretoria and founder and chair of the South African Customer Satisfaction Index, said: “The age we live in is ‘the age of now’. There is a sense of people wanting everything in real-time. If you don’t get the answers you want on an app or online buying site, quickly, you will leave. In contact centres, queue time is a real grudge.”

Schreuder and Verma said to improve customer experience, organisations had to make their service accessible, using digital channels and modern messaging, easy-to-find support and resources, omnichannel routing, channel shifts with context, and skills-based routing.

Verma said it was also important to use automation to augment agent interactions. “It used to be considered a good thing to have a human voice for customers to speak to. What we now promote is using automation – such as our smart bot mechanism, Freddy AI, to support agents with the drudge tasks and to provide complex answers to customers. In developed markets, we see 60% of deflections going to bots, leaving agents free to handle more complex queries.”

“Organisations need to shift from being reactive to proactive, so if a customer has been on your site for 30 to 40 seconds, some kind of AI should pop up to take them through the site and make suggestions,” he said.

Importantly, organisations need to give their contact centre agents ‘superpowers’, Verma said. Agents need to be helped to cut the wait by automating routine tasks, giving them a 360-degree view of the customer, access to a solid internal knowledge base and also by holding mock drills, he said. “Finally, to improve customer experience, it is important to refresh your customer service metrics, focusing on zero contact resolution, customer effort scores, complaints per order and cost per interaction,” Verma said.

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