Customer service delivery does not stay still for long.  As consumers interact with businesses from which they buy products and services in different ways, the pressure is on: CX leaders must  adapt to new channel realities and then go further to exceed the end-user’s expectations. The reality of 2023 has been a noted shift by enterprises to push customers toward digital interaction points. Consumers are for the most part more technologically adept than ever. Also, many have shown a willingness to be guided in that direction.  But for the digital CX equation to work, non-voice contact center operations must ensure a duty of care that meets (or beats) that of the traditional telephone channel.

Make no mistake about it, the heat is on for captive CX decision-makers when it comes to seamless non-voice channel management. The most recent Front Office CX Omnibus Survey by Ryan Strategic Advisory indicates that not only are the majority of enterprise contact centers deploying up to 7 digital channels concurrently but contact center leaders anticipate that there will be significant growth in traffic across many non-voice mediums moving into 2024.  Reading between the lines, there is little room for error in managing digital interactions.

The question is, how does an operator benchmark digitally-driven communications against telephonic customer service?  Quality matters no matter what the medium.  Getting it right on the telephone is one thing when an agent can be monitored and needs to respond to the emotions of the customer at the other end. Logically, this duty of care extends to end-users who may be interacting across different technological points of contact, too.  And, this is incredibly salient as more enterprises aim to abandon telephone-based CX altogether.  While perhaps the most high-profile of these instances was the decision by Frontier Airlines to go voice-free about a year ago, there are many other high-profile examples of this trend.

The risk for enterprises in not getting their non-voice CX strategy right is enormous.  Yet, anecdotally, worry has clearly set in among many customers who feel that being pushed to a digital medium is not meeting the mark. A quick scan of LinkedIn posts turns up endless complaints of waits for an issue managed by a live agent on webchat to be resolved, or emails that go into a black hole never to be heard from again.

The anger around chatbots is especially notable. A recent Forbes article highlighted a survey that shows an overwhelming number of consumers experienced frustration with this technology over the previous year, and that 7-in-10 would ditch an enterprise that did not provide a live interface to resolve a service issue. A further example of this is a recent survey that indicates that the confidence French end-users have in automated CX solutions is anemic.

As discussed by leading UK CX thought-leader Nerys Corfield on the CX Files podcast recently, this non-voice CX duty of care is one that business ignore at their own risk. Equivalent types of KPIs that are used to hold telephone-based operations to account need to be enforced for digital channels.  With customer service indices in the US and the UK plumbing the depths of the Mariana Trench relative to pre-2020 levels, failure to launch in non-voice support is not an option.

Moving into the 2023 holiday season, no one should doubt that enterprises need to have watertight digital CX delivery in place. Customer service across all channels needs to be responsiveness and also robust.  Forcing end-users away from the telephone means investing in quality delivery that will meet or beat customer expectations.  Live chats must be handled efficiently without overloading agents at any one time. Emails should be responded to promptly. And chatbots cannot exist simply to frustrate customers.

Digital CX is a reality — and so, too, is competition. If enterprises go slack on high standards related to non-voice customer care, the risk of losing end-users is a very real one.

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