Many industries, such as hotels, airlines, and tourism will benefit over the next several months from bailout packages and credit extensions that will keep their companies viable. However, even as markets begin to recover, there will be fierce competition to win back the consumers who are returning. “We expect demand to remain suppressed for months, possibly into next year,” stated United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and President J. Scott Kirby in a March 27th statement. With fewer customers come more battles to win and retain them.
Winning over customers with great customer service will be critical. After all, there will be so much available capacity (empty seats, empty rooms, etc.) across the travel, hotel and tourism industries that consumers will have their pick of the litter. In fact, the UAL executives reflected that new reality, underscoring the importance of the UAL customer contact center in their statement: “It should be no surprise that our contact center employees have been particularly tested, handling nearly one million calls in the last two weeks alone.”
Your contact center should not be taking so many calls
There is simply no way to cost-effectively serve customers with so much reliance on live-agent interactions. The UAL statement underscores the sudden urgency of now – brands must switch to digital-first customer service and finally move beyond inadequate traditional systems that become quickly strained in a crisis. It’s the only way to efficiently and effectively serve modern consumers. Abinash Tripathy, our own CEO and Founder, explains it this way: customer service teams need to re-evaluate how they work, their existing systems, tools and processes and ensure that the future of customer service is one that we expect as consumers.
Customer service was already far behind
If your organization was like most, you already needed to improve your customer service posture. Before the current socio-economic upheaval occurred, many organizations were already attempting to virtualize their customer service teams via an automated, digital-first strategy. But investments were lagging far behind consumer needs and expectations. The chart below reflects this reality.
As you can see, there already existed a tremendous gap between customer volumes and expectations for personalized service versus what companies were prepared to deliver. The result of being woefully prepared, according to the 2019 study from Customer Contact Weekly (CCW), Contact Center Success in the Automation Age, is that customer service organizations had fallen behind in many areas, including the following:
Knowing how their systems were lacking, customer service leaders have been aware for quite some time of what they need to do to improve. The below chart from the CCW study confirms that they fully understand the urgency of having a digital-first, multi-channel customer service platform (see below).
Modernize customer service now to gain advantage and resiliency
The image and charts noted above underscore the reasons for modernizing your customer service capabilities during this unique, one-time stage in our socio-economic history. Modernizing customer service will:
- Create a resilient system for serving customers
- Yield competitive advantage as markets begin to recover
- Hedge against ongoing and future risk
- Gain efficiencies to do more without adding human resources
The tools you need to pursue a digital-first, multi-channel customer service posture exist today in modern customer service platforms. In fact, many of our customers are proof that making the transformation pays off by meeting immediate customer service needs and providing significant ROI in both the short term and long term.
If ever there were a time to transform customer service digitally, now is that time. Not only can your organization adjust quickly to the current market reality, but you can also reduce future risks and realize significant ROI as you do.