“Creating differentiation and value requires more than checking the box.”

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A new NICE inContact global research study has detailed the growing role of digital-first omnichannel experiences in fostering customer loyalty and advocacy.

The 2020 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark surveyed over 1,000 global contact centre decision-makers and found businesses are moving towards self-service vs. agent-assisted channels. 43 per cent of businesses now prefer to offer self-service channels, a 15 percentage point increase from 2019 with a corresponding decrease in those preferring agent-assisted channels for service.

Paul Jarman, CEO of NICE inContact, explained, “Digital is a fundamental part of customers lives. If you’re not available in those channels and offering effective and efficient service in them, customers will take notice. That said, creating differentiation and value requires more than checking the box, but rather using digital as a launch pad to build exceptional memorable experiences. This year’s CX Transformation Benchmark shows that contact centres aren’t willing to be left behind, and they see new opportunities in improving acquisition, retention and growth.”

According to the 2020 benchmark survey, 62 per cent of contact centres reported an increase in digital interaction volumes during the global pandemic. In addition, 66 per cent of survey respondents not using the cloud today indicated that they are planning to accelerate their move as a result of the pandemic. In the 2020 survey findings, there is significant growth in contact centres offering online chat (73 per cent) and mobile apps (56 per cent). These findings were up 6 and 8 percentage points, respectively, since 2019. Text was up 11 percentage points to 49 per cent, while chatbots remained flat year over year at 46 per cent of contact centres using them.

The study also found that businesses are investing in CX in four key areas: the website, new channels, new contact centre technology and improving seamless communication. There is also signs that preference for self-service versus agent-assisted channels is shifting among contact centres, with contact centres also seeing opportunity to improve the seamless omnichannel experience.

Other findings include continued growth of social media in customer service, with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter Messenger and WeChat found to be the top five private messaging apps used by businesses. In addition, AI is up, but so too is scepticism of the state of chatbots. 66 per cent of contact centres say they use at least one AI channel, yet 90 per cent believe that chatbots need to get smarter before customers will be willing to use them regularly.

NICE inContact CEO Jarman added that the company is seeing tremendous growth in adoption of its CXone product, with a record number of interactions in 2020. CXone is a fully-integrated and open cloud contact centre platform combining omnichannel routing with workforce optimisation, analytics, automation and artificial intelligence. He said, “The trajectory of digital channel support has continued upwards for several years and has become more urgent than ever. As a complete, unified cloud customer experience platform, CXone blends all types of interactions, including self-service and agent-assisted channels. This ensures the best combination of automation, efficiency, and service excellence as agents continue to handle more complex interactions.”