The CX Gap: And How To Navigate It
by Nate Brown, Senior Director of CX
Customer Service is going downhill. At least, there’s a growing body of evidence (such as this piece from Arizona State University) making such claims. Whether it’s true or not, the perception of customer service seems to be in decline. And in the legendary words of Kate Zabriskie, “the customer’s perception is your reality.”
Much of this alleged decline is in relation to a change in mentality from our customers. Thomas Hollmann, a clinical associate professor of marketing at Arizona State University, explains, “We call it the ‘Amazon-ation’ of business. Everything should be one click and one-hour delivery, so customers think, ‘Why do I have to jump through five hoops when I deal with you?’”
Arise conducted a recent study called “The Truth About Customer Care” that amplified these same findings. When 3500+ customers were asked their preferred channel to engage with for customer care, 64% said voice! Live chat was next (39%) with other channels following considerably down the list. We clearly want live interaction! Sadly, these same customers were being forced down digital paths and having to jump through significant hoops and hold times to achieve the support they needed.
The bottom line is that customers expect way more from their interactions with Brands…and very few companies are meeting these elevated expectations.
The others are left with a significant gap. A gap in what customers expect, and what we as CX professionals are capable of delivering. The landscape becomes especially bleak when what we are capable to deliver has dropped at the same time customer expectations are on the rise! Between a major labor shortage, supply chain issues, and lingering pandemic complications, creating a consistently great experience is harder than ever before. This has put many CX leaders in a very difficult spot.
So how do we bridge the gap?
Many CX technology platforms claim to have the solution. By forcing customers down a digital, and often automated path, we “labor-proof” our CX. It’s an enticing promise, especially for those who feel like it’s impossible to hire the right talent. “If we can automate/deflect 30%, even 40% of our volume, we can finally catch up and bring the team into a better place.” Sadly, it’s almost never that easy.
“They (the customer) want to be treated with dignity. An apology — that’s free,” says Hollmann. “They want an explanation of why the problem occurred, or at least a recognition. All of those things are an extra 10 seconds on the phone, but companies aren’t doing it.”
Creating interactions like this requires capable people. Many have pursued the digital experience path with vigor, but at the expense of the human experience. In these cases, the pendulum has swung too far. As inspired by “The Effortless Experience,” we must guide customers to the BEST resolution path. Considering the needs and expectations of our customers, this will often be a human-to-human interaction.
The sweet spot is maintaining focus on great interactions, both human and digital.
There are times when self-service channels are absolutely the best. A quick piece of information, a confirmation of a reservation, a modification to a flight, and the customer is on their way. These interactions are secure, seamless, and speedy. Great tools and a great knowledge curation process will put this type of experience well within your reach.
When it comes to the human experience, service centers across the world have been hit especially hard by the labor shortage. It may feel impossible to attract and retain the talent required to meet volume demands. For many service leaders, success will require trying something different.
Gig-CX is simply leveraging the remarkable talent available in the gig economy for customer service roles. There’s a significant demographic of people right here in North America who are experienced and available. They are often seeking a bit of extra flexibility…ensuring that work can revolve around life instead of life revolving around work.
The benefits of this hybrid model are tremendous. It’s more affordable, more sustainable, and far easier to attract top talent. Additionally, the flexibility organizations can achieve through this model is unlike anything we’ve had before. Your team no longer needs to be a victim of volume at peak times. You can schedule service partners to be available exactly when you need them even down to thirty-minute increments.
Taking advantage of this hybrid capability is exactly how to future-proof your CX. It protects you against unexpected surges in customer activity or unexpected business events. Who knows what is around the corner? By establishing a partnership now, you can be there for your customers no matter what.
Arise has been doing Gig-CX for twenty-eight years. We’ve partnered with hundreds of brands to elevate their CX, even in challenging times. Take a look here to learn more about the Arise Platform and all kinds of tips to bridge the experience gap!
Author, Nate Brown
Nate Brown is a perpetual student of the world’s greatest experiences and the people who create them. Having spent the first decade of this career managing a complex technical support environment for Occupational Health and eLearning software, Nate transitioned to Customer Experience in 2015. After authoring The CX Primer, Brown was dubbed the “CX Influencer of the Year” by CloudCherry in 2019, and a top global CX thought leader by ICMI, Exceeders, Netomi, Martech and many more. As a passion project, Nate created CX Accelerator, a first-class non-profit community for Customer Experience professionals. Nate serves as the Senior Director of Customer Experience for Arise Virtual Solutions and can be found at a variety of conferences speaking and training on the CX topics he loves.