In the age of social distancing, is contact the new dirty word? With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, it certainly seems that way. The new normal has companies seeking alternative methods of serving their customers without direct person-to-person contact. Known as “contactless service,” this new model is emerging as the goal of many of the world’s leading enterprises.
QLess allows customers to wait in line from home, their vehicle, or work, eliminating contact in a waiting room or lobby. Customers are notified via SMS or app when it is their turn so they can arrive just in time. Nordstrom, meanwhile, has gone beyond contactless order fulfillment and has implemented contactless returns. The retailer allows customers to scan the item’s QR code and return it via a kiosk, with no human contact necessary.
Safety concerns create emotional effort
These companies recognize that contactless and effortless are two side of the same coin – reducing customer effort in the new normal means addressing safety concerns which are now critical to brand loyalty, with 60% of us likely to ditch a company that fails to meet our safety expectations. Effort is two-thirds about how the customer “feels” or how much emotional effort they have to exert, and safety concerns are a big part of that.
A survey exploring consumer attitudes to service delivery during the pandemic found that although most still expect their providers to resolve service and equipment issues as quickly and effectively as before the pandemic, the vast majority (75%) do not want technicians in their homes unless strictly necessary. If a visit is unavoidable, 68% expect the company to make sure the technician visit is as short as possible, and 63% would allow one technician only. This demonstrates that technician visits can be a significant cause of high customer effort.
Tactics for contactless and effortless experience
To reduce customer effort, brands must find new tools and technologies to help them provide contactless and effortless service that addresses customers’ safety concerns. These include:
Even before the pandemic, many organizations were investing in innovative customer support solutions such as remote assistance, co-browsing, screen sharing, and other tools designed to cut costs and reduce customer effort. These technologies have come into their own during the pandemic, as they are ideally suited to work from home staff and ensure the safety of customers and employees alike. Using remote support tools, customers are often able to resolve issues without requiring technician visits.
Virtual assistants have become an integral part of the customer experience landscape, acting as telecom technicians, bank tellers, consumer electronics experts, loss adjusters, sales reps, and a host of other roles. For example, data has revealed that 71% of consumers prefer self-service when it comes to installing electronic devices. In today’s new normal, consumers are even more willing to do things by themselves, with 51% tending to resolve more issues independently than before the pandemic due to safety considerations. Clearly, providing effective self-service is no longer a nice-to-have option; it is a must-have in providing consumers with the safety and convenience they demand throughout the customer journey.
Automation tools / decision support for employees
Automated decision support provides agents and field technicians with real-time guidance during customer interactions, freeing them from the burden of remembering workflows, troubleshooting processes and rules, and enabling them to focus on making each interaction as effortless as possible. AI-based technologies like natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis enable systems to understand what customers are saying, classify their issues, and provide contextualized guidance to employees during the interaction, including suggestions for resolutions and next best action steps, reducing effort for both the employee and the customer. The results include shorter hold times, fewer escalations, and a higher degree of personalization.
When needed – tech visits with high safety measures
When a site visit cannot be avoided, customer safety still must be top of mind, meaning that technician visits must be as short as possible and result in first time fixes. Remote collaboration tools can provide field technicians with immediate help or knowledge support while out on a job, reducing time on site and eliminating the need for follow-up visits.
A new report, “How to deliver an effortless experience in the new normal,” takes a closer look at the link between the contactless and effortless imperatives, including the role safety plays in the equation. It also examines three different tactics companies can employ at various touchpoints to provide contactless and effortless customer interactions.
To learn more about how you can reduce your customers’ effort by promoting contactless interactions with your organization, access the full report here.