When it comes to complex B2C customer care, the customer is anything but a faceless number in a sea of consumers. These are real people with real lives that inform their expectations and define their needs with every shift and change of the world around them.
B2C brands had their worlds turned upside down by the pandemic, but what does complex customer care look like now things are leveling out?
Shifting Customer Expectations
We’re in this together. Remember that feeling at the beginning of the pandemic? In those early days, nothing was “business as usual” and we were all sharing a bizarre and frightening collective experience. With everything shifting so quickly, many customers were more tolerant of longer wait times and challenges in achieving first call resolution. But that’s shifting — and fast.
Today, a typical consumer wants customer service that is defined by easy access to a fast and effective resolution. Customer experience still matters immensely, but it’s less about “wow” factors — and more about efficiency and answers. When a brand falls short, customers aren’t particularly forgiving, as a recent Zendesk report shows, with 60% of customers leaving brands in the dust after just one bad experience (up 22% year over year — ouch.)
That said, there’s no simple one-size-fits-all answer to what people truly want from their customer care interactions. We can’t rely on pre- or mid-pandemic data to tell the story either — we’re in a whole new world. Collecting new information via post-call/post-contact surveys or other means is critical to understanding customer sentiment in today’s environment so you set new benchmarks based on current state and evolve your program accordingly.
Evolving Omnichannel Service
Easy access to fast and effective resolution is achieved by giving your customers the service options that are most convenient for them. The pandemic brought a shift in how different demographics engaged with customer care operations. For example, many people who relied heavily on phone (the elder Boomers) adapted to non-voice channels in greater numbers.
In line with this, there’s significant growth in self-serve customer care. It’s an option that was already increasing in popularity pre-pandemic and has only accelerated in the two years since. Customers are getting more and more comfortable with navigating their own way to an answer. This is usually good news for brands — it’s simultaneously easier for their customers and more cost-effective for the business.
However, this means that when a customer does reach out to human-based customer service channels, the problems they want to resolve are often more complex. Plus, 73% of customers want to be able to seamlessly move from one channel to another without having to repeat themselves.
All this adds up to the fact that the work trickling down to Tier 1 and Tier 2 agents is shifting in complexity. To avoid bottlenecking Tier 2 agents with an influx of more sophisticated care scenarios, Tier 1 agents must be ready to resolve more complex issues for these customers. They need to be trained in skillsets that go beyond transactional customer service, empowering them to creatively problem-solve and make more informed decisions for the customer. That said, this move results in a different level of work for Tier 2 agents. In some cases, it may make sense to create roles for specialists or subject matter experts.
Modified Recruitment Strategy
If you’re expecting agents to take on more complex B2C customer care, you may need to re-evaluate your agent profiles when recruiting new hires. What skillsets, personality traits, and experiences will set these agents up for success? How does this change the type of candidate you’re looking for and where you find them?
It’s a tight, competitive labor market out there. A more sophisticated agent profile is going to be hard to attract — and they’re going to be more expensive (and that’s true both in in-house and outsourced contact centers).
One of the most critical factors to help attract the best agents is the opportunity for a meaningful career path. This is where the decision to empower your agents with more complex customer care is one of the best moves you can make. Candidates are looking for roles where they can make an impact and grow their skills. One of the most significant appeals of B2C complex care is the ability of an agent to impact a “real person” directly. When complexity is increased, the interaction between agent and consumer is more significant than ever — on both sides of the equation.
Regardless of your industry, the pace of technology in the contact center (and elsewhere in the organization) continues to accelerate. It makes for a rapidly changing landscape — and your customers are here for it. Perhaps for eCommerce operations, that means more sophisticated service options that are easier than ever to navigate and are elegantly embedded across all service channels including your app. Whatever the case, customers expect seamless, digitally powered solutions. Are you ready for it?
The beauty of working with an outsourced partner is that they have a wider world view of how different technologies work in different scenarios. They have a handful of use cases in their back pocket and can quickly come up to speed in any technology you propose as part of your program. That all adds up to a smoother transition and service that exceeds the expectations of your customers. If you need a hand figuring out what digital transformation looks like in your contact center, choose an outsourced partner who can guide you well.
Increasing Focus on Remote Agents
Customers in today’s B2C world have little patience for outages or service interruptions. That means business continuity is critical to your brand reputation and customer loyalty.
In today’s contact center, remote work is more prevalent than ever before. Just about everyone made the pivot to include some work-at-home in their operational model in the past two years — some more successfully than others. But WAH is here to stay, at least in some capacity. There are significant business continuity benefits to a decentralized model or hybrid model. And from an employer perspective, many candidates in the labor market are looking for at-home opportunities. Your technical infrastructure, onboarding and training strategies, workforce management, and company culture need to be optimized for the at-home agent experience in order to deliver for both your customers and your employees.
At Blue Ocean, where we’re not afraid to brag about the success of our remote agent workforce, we’ve seen this model provide a better balance for our employees and improve overall schedule adherence while meeting or exceeding all other performance metrics over the past two years.
All this adds up to a subtle but significant shift in the way we deliver B2C complex customer care. Brands simply have to keep up with what customers are expecting or risk losing their business completely.