Let’s Get Digital: COVID-19 Reveals How Brands Can Improve CX Across Channels
Presented By: Sitel
By Kelli Harrison, VP, Account Management -
Retail, Sitel Group
Surviving COVID-19 meant a major increase in
online shopping. It’s how many consumers safely went grocery shopping, treated
themselves with new devices and even ordered needed medication to their front
doors. But this surge in online purchases also meant an increase of over one
million customer service calls for Sitel Group. From missing packages to
incorrect orders to delayed shipments, the pandemic put a wrench in how the
supply chain operates and thus impacted the overall customer experience (CX)
for millions of consumers.
Even with all the frustrations that made life
in lockdown disruptive, consumers took brands’ efforts in stride. In fact, Sitel Group’s COVID-19: the CX Impact
study revealed that the number of consumers that would stop doing business with
a company due to poor CX during the pandemic dropped 30% since March (43%
during the pandemic in May vs. 73% pre-pandemic in March). Taking brand loyalty
a step further, just one in 10 consumers admitted to leaving a negative review
for a brand during the pandemic. Compared to the 42% of consumers who admitted
to leaving a negative review for a brand pre-COVID, it’s clear that customers
have become much more understanding of their experiences during this chaotic
Customers’ level of sympathy for CX issues is
great news for brands, as they’ve struggled to keep operations moving; but what
does it mean for CX expectations as we continue to move into the “new normal”
in the coming months? The actions brands take now to revamp their support
processes will have a long-term impact on consumer perception in the future.
Investing in Improving Customer Experience
Improving CX requires brands to invest in new
offerings, while continuing to maintain their reliable channels. For brands
looking to implement new strategies to improve CX, they should put a renewed
focus on the value of balancing self-service options with channels that provide
the human touch.
Self-service driven by tech
For many customers, waiting on the phone for a
representative is simply not an option. This became even more true during the
pandemic with longer wait times and strapped support staff. According to the report,
more than a third (35%) of consumers would rather find the solution themselves
online than reach out to customer service during the pandemic (up 7% since
early March). The demand for self-service is understandably higher with
digital-first generations like Gen Z and millennials (43% each).
In addition to searching websites and FAQs for
answers, self-service has expanded to digital company representatives (live or
automated) that provide responses in real-time. One in seven consumers (14%)
feel a digital company representative (e.g., chatbot, IVR, etc.) would best
understand their request and assist them properly during COVID-19 (up 6% since
early March), proving that tech innovation is key to CX delivery through a
Traditional support channels remain important
While a quarter of consumers (24%) prefer to
use online chat to get answers, traditional channels like email (34%) and voice
(24%) remained equally important. Sometimes, customer queries are too complex
to manage on their own, or even with a digital assistant, and this is where the
human touch comes into play.
In fact, over half (59%) of consumers say they
would rather reach out to a customer service representative when experiencing
difficulty with a product or service during the pandemic than use self-service.
This means there are sizable groups of consumers on both sides of the fence
between self-service and traditional support channels, such as voice.
Therefore, it’s critical that brands do all they can to support both customer
preferences, optimizing traditional channels while also delivering enhanced
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a whole new
meaning to customer loyalty. However, while consumers may be giving brands a
break for the time being, brands shouldn’t expect this to become the norm. As
we move into the fall with a hectic holiday season quickly approaching,
consumers’ CX demands will undoubtedly grow. For brands, this means maintaining
their current support options while investing in new channels to provide
seamless experiences and rebuild customer loyalty.
Kelli Harrison is VP, Account Management – Retail, at Sitel Group a business process outsourcing solutions provider. She joined Sitel Group in February 2000 and previously served in operations, customer experience, and project management roles, where she led functional responsibility for business execution and process improvement. Kelli has over 25 years of experience in BPO.
She holds a degree from the University of Minnesota, is PMO certified and holds business certification in communications and business development. Currently, Kelli lives in Tampa, Florida after spending 4 years with Sitel Group in Europe.