Client Relationship Interactions Must Evolve

    Businesses Need To Embrace Better Methods To Improve Client Relationships

    The big data phenomenon is giving contact centers and customer relationship management teams more insight into the demands and requirements of consumers. This trend has given companies of all sizes new opportunities to transform operations in an effort to meet clients on their level. At the same time, improper information management programs have introduced new challenges for companies that find themselves drowning in the massive volumes of data they are now responsible for collecting.

    The fact is that consumers are picky and are aware when companies are not living up to expectations. When organizations do not meet the needs of the customers, those end-users will simply use the abundance of technology at their disposal to find another vendor. This trend has introduced a concept called the "switching economy," according to a new Accenture study.

    The survey, which polled nearly 13,000 individuals around the world, found that 51 percent of U.S. consumers have switched service providers within the past year because that vendor did not meet their needs. One of the biggest areas of disappointment is in the contact center and other customer-facing departments, as clients are simply fed up with the way they are forced to communicate with enterprises.

    "Changing customer behaviors in the digital marketplace and low levels of customer satisfaction are fueling a switching economy that presents opportunities as well as threats. But too many companies are playing not to lose instead of playing to win in this switching economy," said Robert Wollan, global managing director of sales and customer services at Accenture.

    In many cases, businesses are relying on old phone systems and other technologies to support customer interactions even when these platforms do not support the interactive channels that are in high demand.

    Interactions Must Be Two-Sided

    Contact centers play a big role in determining the feelings consumers have toward an organization. Unfortunately, many contact center decision-makers have not taken steps in the right direction to improve those emotions. In fact, Accenture found that 91 percent of respondents said they are frustrated that they have to contact a business several times for the same reason before that particular issue is sorted out.

    The study also revealed that consumers are annoyed with the phone system features provided by companies, as 90 percent of survey respondents said they are annoyed by the fact that they are constantly put on hold for long periods of time when the issue could have been sorted out through another means of communication. Roughly 89 percent of customers also said they do not like how they have to repeat their issues to multiple representatives, which suggests that businesses do not have the capability to transfer information between contact center employees.

    Similarly, individuals are not entirely pleased with the way that companies are utilizing other communication platforms - if this is even happening in an organization. While many people believe that social media and other technologies can improve client interactions, the majority of respondents believe that doing so inappropriately is a breach of privacy.

    "Success in the age of the nonstop customer does not all come down to digital. It comes down to how to leverage the digital and offline worlds in a seamlessly integrated way, giving customers the ability to define their own experience and maximize control over how they interact with companies," said Kevin Quiring, managing director of North American sales and customer services at Accenture.

    In other words, companies need to understand how clients want to communicate and adapt to those demands.

    Customer Relationships Need To Evolve

    While it is unfortunate, it is true that businesses are struggling to keep up with the needs of their clients. This was echoed in a separate report by research firm Ovum, which found that roughly 90 percent of companies are at risk of "becoming irrelevant" to their customers due to the firms' inability to adapt to the evolving needs of the consumer landscape.

    Jeremy Cox, a principal analyst at Ovum, said that organizations around the world need to keep pace with the technological evolutions and demands in the customer landscape if they want to maintain healthy relationships and strong reputations. If executives do not adopt new business phone systems and other collaborative tools to meet the real-time expectations of clients, those enterprises will likely crumble over time.

    Cox highlighted the importance that decision-makers acquire visionary executive leadership and learn to overcome any barriers that may prevent them from adapting to the needs of their most important assets: customers. As the technology landscape continues to transform, the speed in which organizations must attain these perspectives will increase, putting more pressure on companies to evolve or fall behind and face extinction.