Three Rules to Win the 2021 Holiday Season

Chris Bauserman
Chris Bauserman is Vice President of Segment and Product Marketing at NICE inContact.

As we enter the 2021 holiday season, customers are experiencing more stressors than ever, including the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, disruptive weather, and economic uncertainty.
This means that individuals, families, and organizations will be particularly looking forward to a holiday shopping experience that can provide a respite from their troubles. Consequently, providing an unexpectedly fast, easy, and feel-good experience is more important than ever to stand out in a crowded market and earn customers for life.
When customers engage with your brand, the one common denominator that every interaction shares is the demand for quick and easy resolutions.
Whether it’s resolving a problem, checking a balance, making an appointment, or any other need, customers expect speed and efficiency: all while expending minimal effort. These “micro-moments” of instant gratification have a cumulative impact on enabling a meaningful and lasting customer experience (CX).
In the last 12 months consumer expectations have taken a quantum leap as more and more customers turn to online engagements in lieu of bricks-and-mortar locations. And it’s not just service and support. Instant gratification and satisfaction increase sales with both current customers and prospects.
CX leaders recognize that customers expect excellent service. Fortunately, the technologies now exist that allow contact centers to deliver superior service levels that scale on every channel.
This instant gratification level of service is possible, every time, if contact centers consider these three rules for success, which could help them win the 2021 holiday season.
Rule 1: Empower customers. And self-help is the best help.
Customers don’t want to speak with agents for their most common needs. Generally they are looking for speed and ease in transactions in order to resolve issues themselves through digital self-service. And most customers are tech-savvy enough to use self-service: if given a well-designed option.
Speed and convenience combined is the ultimate form of instant gratification. This means higher Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) metrics, happier customers, and a contact center that is transformed from being a cost center to a strategic asset for companies small and large alike.
According to the 2020 NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark, Consumer Wave, eight in 10 consumers are more willing to do business with companies that offer self-service options. Yet only 61% agree that companies are offering easy and convenient self-service resolution options, thereby highlighting the desire for improved self-service efficiencies and better customer engagement.
Rule 2: Help your agents better anticipate and solve customer issues. AI-powered knowledge delivers instant gratification for both.
You can’t deliver instant gratification if a callback is required or if customers are put on hold while agents scour multiple systems and information silos looking for answers.
Help agents get it right the first time by giving them the information they need in the moment. From customer profile and history to product and service information, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered knowledge bases eliminate the need for agents to search for answers.
These tools save time, thereby providing agents with additional bandwidth that removes stress and which helps them build more meaningful and satisfying careers. Additionally, agents are better equipped to build trust with customers when they can deliver expert help and eliminate hold times or transfers to other agents.
By analyzing customer needs in real-time and providing agents with the answers they are seeking with incredible speed and precision, AI-powered knowledge bases eliminate the need to search for answers. As a result, they allow agents to form stronger connections with customers, deliver answers in seconds, and build lasting customer relationships.
Rule 3: Make sure customers feel good too. “In the moment” soft skill coaching can make every interaction a genuine personal connection.
Perfecting the art of instant gratification means guiding something that has historically been difficult to quantify, namely agent soft skills. Legacy tools allow for post-mortem coaching, which is valuable. But what if you could coach in the moment, fixing issues before they occur? It’s not science fiction.
The right tools not only can serve up information to agents to help quickly and correctly resolve the issue, but they can also listen and coach agents during their engagements to maximize the CX, thus helping customers and agents both feel good about the interactions.
What’s more, these in the moment coaching applications give contact center managers the ability to fine tune training at the organizational level, as well as provide one-on-one coaching.
They help accomplish these critical tasks by being based on the behaviors and performance identified through proven algorithms for monitoring, capturing, and analyzing every engagement in the contact center. These capabilities allow contact center managers to finally help their agents reflect the behaviors that the brand promises and stop simply “aspiring” to achieve them.
In this era of shrinking customer loyalty, companies need all the help they can get. Using real-time interaction guidance to emphasize connections and enhance the CX can have strong bottom-line implications. When customers feel connected to brands, they are more likely to increase their spending with that brand.
There are many opportunities across the customer journey to build an emotional connection with the customer. By fulfilling the customer’s needs quickly or solving problems with personalized interactions, the agent can leave the customer feeling emotionally satisfied.
The upcoming holiday season represents a remarkable opportunity for organizations to differentiate themselves by providing superior customer service. Improving brand loyalty, increasing sales, and enhancing the emotional CX will result in lasting customer relationships.
With the right focus, contact center platform and AI-powered tools, this holiday gift season can be a bright spot in what has been a trying year for many.

Chris Bauserman is Vice President at NICE CXone.
– Republished with permission from Contact Center Pipeline,

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