Unpacking the “State of the Digital Customer”

Verint recently published their “2022 State of Digital Customer Experience” report which provides an industry analysis of consumers’ and brands’ digital-first engagement expectations in 2022. It explores ways that businesses can provide customer experiences that build lasting relationships and the best practices that separate the industry leaders from the rest, and allows brands to discover where competitors are focusing their efforts and budgets.

We sat down (virtually) with Verint’s Vice President of GTM Strategy, Heather Richards, to take a deeper look at the findings.
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TheCustomer:

In your most recent report, “The 2022 State of Digital Customer Experience” you found that consumer patience is wearing thin.  Can you elaborate on the specifics of this finding?  Is this just a continuation of a phenomenon that was already present or is this something new entirely?  And what do you think is behind it?

Heather Richards:

Lack of consumer patience is a continuation of the sense of urgency created by the pandemic. In the beginning, consumers were more understanding of businesses adapting to challenges outside of their control – inbound volume spikes, the transition to working from home and product shortages. These all had major impacts on daily business operations as well as customer experience. As time went on, these challenges continued as organizations sought to improve customer experience while battling the Great Resignation and global supply chain issues. While sitting on hold for extended periods of time was tolerated before, it now exacerbates frustration levels. Consumers have patience, but that patience can only go so far– as they now expect service levels to return to what they were pre-pandemic.

I would also attribute increased consumer impatience to the expectation of resolving an issue immediately in their preferred channel of choice. With the massive shift to digital over the past two-plus-years, consumers now expect this new way of doing business. Now with more complex customer journeys, involving in-person and digital interactions at various stages, consumers expect consistency of experience, and organizations must rise to the challenge despite it being more difficult to provide.

Verint recently conducted a consumer study in the banking industry where CSAT levels dropped for all but two of the top 20 U.S. banks between 2021 and 2022. The halo effect of the pandemic appears to have ended – banks could count on some sympathy from customers in the past. However, the study shows that consumer attitude of “at least they’re trying their best” no longer exists.

TheCustomer:

If one-third of consumers surveyed ranked making multiple attempts to get a simple question answered as the most frustrating aspect of a poor customer experience, then you must wonder why organizations haven’t recognized that fact and proactively addressed it?  And if customer loyalty is the most prized state in the relationship and conversely, also the most fragile, then solving for these issues seems like a no-brainer.  Or is there more to this?

Heather Richards:

It is not so much that brands don’t recognize consumer frustration. There’s more to maintaining loyalty and improving customer experience than just hiring more people. Rising consumer expectations, diminishing workforce and unpredictable spikes in the volume of interactions have outstripped resources and have left businesses to play catch up. At the start of 2020, companies were already struggling to handle the increasing dynamics of customer engagement. The pandemic served to further impact companies’ preparedness levels and derail planned investments, putting them in a more vulnerable state or leaving them even further behind.

We uncovered these insights from research Verint conducted over the past two years to understand key customer engagement challenges and business priorities. The most recent study from this year, surveyed more than 2,700 global business leaders to better understand how digital disruption and pandemic-related impacts have permanently changed the way we do business. The research identified what we call the Engagement Capacity Gap™, which was brought about by new workforce dynamics, ever-expanding customer engagement channels, and exponentially more consumer interactions – all which must be managed with limited budget and resources.

Respondents cited that their top technology-led customer engagement initiatives are: 1) supporting improved agent experience and well-being (60%); 2) investing in digital-first customer engagement solutions (59%); and 3) supporting agent guidance for expressing empathy (58%).

To further illustrate the point, the State of Digital Customer Experience survey found that 50 percent of those surveyed said that increasing the personalization of a customer’s experience is a priority while 35 percent are aiming to improve omnichannel experiences indicating that the desire to improve customer experience exists. Forty-seven percent of business leaders surveyed in the Engagement Capacity Gap study cited obtaining a unified view of customer engagement across multiple data silos is one of their top challenges.

So, the short answer is yes, improving customer experience today is definitely a no-brainer and top of mind for many organizations. Unfortunately, the road to restoring customer experience to pre-pandemic levels is challenging and requires the orchestration of technology, intelligent automation, AI, and business processes – as well as commitment from across the organization to succeed in the post-pandemic business environment.

TheCustomer:

Moving through the report, 78% of consumers gave an above-average rating for how likely they would be to purchase products or services from a company again if they had an amazing customer experience on a digital channel. That would seem to underscore the above – that a fail is relationally disastrous and a win is exponentially beneficial.  That being said, what steps can an organization take to shore up those shortcomings?

Heather Richards: 

As the number of channels that consumers use continues to increase, brands are faced with increasingly complex customer journeys. They must understand how customers want to engage and be able to effectively manage those interactions. It’s time for companies to take a smarter, more holistic approach to managing, prioritizing, and automating the influx of digital engagements. Applying these fundamentals to digital channels allows brands to offer two-way conversational experiences, with full contextual history, on the channels their customers prefer.

To achieve this, organizations need to digitally transform the conversational experience and go beyond traditional care channels by:

  • Moving from self-service to proactive service by positioning the organization to be able to anticipate and respond to customer needs before a case is even created.
  • Enabling humans and bots to work together to start, continue or complete a conversation at the convenience of the customer creating an asynchronous conversational environment.
  • Orchestrating the workforce by giving each agent the ability to seamlessly engage with customers, as the channel of choice changes through the customer journey and as a conversation may involve both a bot and a human.
  • Driving automation through knowledge management across the customer journey and empowering the workforce, both bots and humans, with access to consistent, contextual information in real-time.

TheCustomer:

Talk to us about how Verint is solving some of these problems for your enterprise clients?  How are they using your services – and what are the outcomes they’re seeing?

Heather Richards: 

Verint helps organizations facilitate and improve engagement with their customers and employees.

The Verint Customer Engagement Cloud Platform works across the enterprise, breaking down barriers that exist across customer service, marketing, sales, branch offices, and operations. Verint solutions enable people and bots to work together seamlessly from anywhere.

Verint Interaction Insights solutions enable enterprises to surface and act on insights in real time to enhance customer experiences and efficiency—and to drive continuous improvement. And since compliance is built into everything we do, we help organizations proactively cover their fraud and risk needs without disrupting the customer experience.

Verint offers a powerful advantage for delivering exceptional experiences. It doesn’t matter if consumers are calling into a contact center, chatting with a bot, navigating a website, or responding to a survey. It starts with the ability to understand every consumer touchpoint across every area of the business. Verint Da Vinci AI and Analytics can help brands truly listen to their customers and employees. And beyond listening, we provide brands the ability to respond with ongoing improvement—from real-time responses that improve individual interactions to executive-level responses that drive ongoing improvement processes across the organization.

Verint Cloud Platform customers have achieved wide-ranging, measurable results when embracing Verint’s technology. According to the Forrester Total Economic Study of Verint, some of our customers’ achievements in include:

  • $52.4 Million cost savings over three years from improved contact center management
  • 50% increase in revenue from cross-selling
  • 45% deflection of calls to less expensive channels
  • 44% improvement in contact center efficiency
  • 43% improvement in agent productivity
  • 23% reduction in employee turnover
  • 10-point improvement in Net Promoter Score
  • 391% ROI after three years measured in a composite customer analysis

Heather RichardsHeather Richards is Vice President of GTM Strategy at Verint. You can download the 2022 State of Digital Customer Experience here.

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