guitarThe world’s newest Nobel laureate, singer and songwriter Bob Dylan penned a universal anthem of change in 1963, The Times They Are a-Changin’. After 50+ years, its challenge, “you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone,” is still relevant as companies grapple with change. We’re seeing plenty of it in our industry—those who are “swimmin’” and those who are having trouble staying afloat. Let’s look at the nature of the change.

The Shift to Omnichannel Self-Service

These days, when customers aren’t satisfied, they can easily take their business elsewhere. Higher expectations and the power to act on their experience give customers control. So what do customers want? Are companies delivering on these expectations?

For starters, customers want you to respect their time.

In a Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper commissioned by Genesys, The Case for Omnichannel Self-Service, 77% of customers said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good customer service. Self-service is often the first point of customer contact and it’s popular across all channels. But delivering optimal customer experience (CX) through self-service requires deep understanding of each customer at every touchpoint, and highly personalized interactions. “One size fits all” won’t cut it.

CX has become a top priority because of its quantifiable impact on revenue. Satisfied customers are loyal. They purchase more and they are advocates—an increasingly important advantage for businesses.

The Forrester paper found that organizations embracing omnichannel self-service stood apart. They were more likely to report that self-service capabilities have either a high or crucial impact on increasing customer satisfaction scores (87%), decreasing service response times (80%), decreasing the number of customer callbacks (75%), and decreasing call waiting times (69%), compared with organizations without an omnichannel strategy.

Turning the Corner to CX

CX focus has been a rallying cry by analysts and other experts for many years. But in practice, the focus in contact centers, in particular, has been on operational efficiency. Now with those improvements in place, there’s some evidence that this inside-out approach is shifting to outside-in. Businesses are moving toward the bigger picture of CX and the insights to be gained from it.

In a recent Genesys webinar on omnichannel self-service, we polled attendees about their self-service channels in place today. Nearly half were still not able to recognize all their current customers.

A second poll asked how effective they are at delivering a personalized customer experience across channels. Only 26% felt they were even moderately effective, while 70% felt slightly or not at all effective.

Even with self-service channels, delivering personalized service is a challenge.

Even with self-service channels, delivering personalized service is a challenge. From Forrester Research, The Case for Omnichannel Self-Service.

Together, the results indicate a recognition of the value of omnichannel self-service. Yet few respondents are confident they’re doing it well. Are you in a similar place with your CX journey?

Getting Past the Roadblocks

With clear benefits to improve CX and revenue, why are so many organizations slow to change? A few things stand out. The physical and broader organizational disconnects create roadblocks to bridging voice and digital. Channels implemented in silos lack real-time visibility into customer data. Even within contact centers there may be silos, such as ecommerce groups that are responsible only for presales support. Technology platforms may lack the flexibility required to integrate systems and processes across all customer touchpoints.

An outdated IVR is often at the heart of the problem. While businesses invest in support for digital channels, IVR suffers on the sidelines. Yet IVR is still a critical point of escalation, and relying on antiquated technology can impede progress toward your goals. Seamless CX is simply not possible unless your IVR is part of it. For these reasons, IVR modernization is the ideal entry point for moving your organization toward omnichannel self-service.

The shift in focus from operational efficiency to CX is good news for businesses that want to build omnichannel self-service. Most companies are not there yet, but the tide has turned. It’s time to start swimming and avoid the risk of sinking like Bob Dylan’s stone.

For more information on taking your first steps toward omnichannel self-service with IVR, view our on-demand webinar, or download the Forrester thought leadership paper, The Case for Omnichannel Self-Service.