We’re in an experience economy. Consumers have more choices than ever before, and they’re extremely pressed for time. That means organisations need to continually earn their customers’ loyalty. Every aspect of every interaction needs to be seamless and personalised.
But the personalisation consumers expect is rarely the “Dear Name” marketing messages that flood their inboxes. The Genesys report “The State of Customer Experience” finds that personalised customer service interactions make the biggest impact, directly increasing loyalty and revenue. A personalised approach is critical not just during calls or chats with contact centre employees, but also during digital interactions across the end-to-end customer journey.
The report — a survey of 5,517 consumers and 646 business leaders globally — found that what consumers are ultimately seeking in a service interaction are a fast response and a first-interaction resolution. But this isn’t just about time saved. It’s about empathy and relevance.
Organisations are more likely to resolve issues quickly and completely when they’ve listened to and understood customers’ expectations and needs — and met them in their channels of choice. Doing so enables businesses to personalise digital and voice interactions with relevant answers, information, and recommendations — at the right time and place.
Providing these personalised experiences requires customer experience (CX) leaders to rethink their channel strategy, workforce engagement, and technology as they also architect their digital transformation.
As digital service interactions increase, satisfaction dips
Consumers are continuing to use digital channels with greater frequency. In fact, email has become the most widely used service channel — marginally overtaking voice, according to the survey. Some 72% of consumers globally used email for service interactions in the past year.
Voice was used as an interaction channel by 68% of consumers in 2022. But that represents a significant drop, down from 86% in 2017, as consumers increasingly turn to chatbots and messaging apps for more immediate answers.
While email is the most commonly used channel, it isn’t necessarily the most preferred. Only 14% of surveyed consumers globally selected email as their preferred channel for CX interactions. The reasons: it lacks the speed and response time they cite as their most important criteria. And while voice does remain the most preferred channel, that preference declines sharply with each younger generation.
Millennials and Gen Z show a stronger preference for digital channels, particularly messaging apps, chatbots and social media. They also show a preference for service in their channels (e.g., WhatsApp or Instagram) rather than your channels (e.g., voice or email).
While voice was the only channel to improve its score for customer satisfaction year-on-year, consumers reported they were less satisfied with the performance of digital channels than they were in 2021. The biggest decreases in satisfaction were with social media, voicebots, and virtual home assistants. The quality of experiences in video, messaging apps and chatbots also declined. Across the board there’s a gap between expectations and reality for the speed and capabilities of digital channels.
The results of preferred CX interactions
The data provides a clear urgency for improving customer journeys through an integrated digital and voice strategy — lowering costs and serving customers more quickly. But only 13% of CX Leaders say their organisations have connected the data and technology needed to create the omnichannel experiences that deliver seamless, personalised experiences.
Half of surveyed organisations have a “multichannel” strategy — customers can use multiple channels that operate independently. Context isn’t automatically transferred across channels, meaning the customer will frustratingly have to start again. This lack of connection means organisations have blind spots that lead to repeated requests for customer information and context. They also lack real-time insights for rapidly uncovering customer needs or monitoring quality across channels. This inhibits their ability to make performance improvements that would smooth the customer journey.
Consumers’ preferred personalisation requires experience orchestration
The links between personalisation, loyalty, and revenue are clear. More than 80% of consumers say they’d purchase additional items from companies that consistently personalise the experience. They would also recommend that company to their peers — and more than half are willing to pay a higher price.
But what types of personalisation do consumers value? While customised marketing messages do play a role, according to the report, the most valuable forms of personalisation are “Receiving the services I need at any time and in my preferred channel of choice,” and “Being connected straightaway with the right person to help me.”
These expectations provide a compass for how organisations can not only win on CX today, but also map out their digital transformation strategy to grow loyalty long term. And now’s the time to start. Only 35% of CX Leaders say their company currently offers highly personalised customer experiences.
Delivering personalised customer experiences require organisations to know who the customer is and what their needs are — identity and intent. And they can achieve this at scale using real-time analytics and natural language processing capabilities to extract patterns and insights and drive positive outcomes.
The importance and impact of personalising experience
Engage the customer in their preferred channel with the right offer, web message, bot, or agent-assisted service. This ensures the customer feels known, heard and understood. Overall, creating the foundations for a lasting relationship.
Achieving this at scale is where experience orchestration technologies excel. Some 71% of CX leaders say they plan to implement a CX platform that integrates systems to support their strategic priorities over the next two years. They are also shaping their strategic agendas around enhancing data and analytics capabilities for real-time insights. And they plan to use artificial intelligence (AI) for deeper customer understanding and personalisation.
The survey finds that CX leaders fully recognise the importance of contact centre employees in personalising experiences. In the past, employee experience has been largely neglected; 48% of respondents say their organisation does little or nothing to make contact centre jobs easier. However, this survey finds employees at the very top of companies’ strategic agendas.
Underlying these efforts is a move to cloud-based CX technologies. Half of surveyed CX leaders say a cloud-based infrastructure provides better access to data across channels. It also adds the ability to add capabilities, features, and channels faster. This gives them the insight and agility needed to better personalise customer experiences and respond quickly to changing customer expectations.
Personalisation is empathy in action
To exceed customer expectations and differentiate themselves from competitors, organisations need to personalise every touchpoint. That’s whether with a human or digital channel. This requires a comprehensive digital transformation.
Organisations can deliver empathy at scale by using AI and automation to listen, understand their customers, predict the next-best actions, take action on that insight, and then continuously learn and improve. This creates a virtuous cycle of unmatched relevance and personalisation that will cement customer loyalty and drive long-term business performance improvements.