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Bridging the Experience Gap: First Interaction Resolution is the Holy Grail of Great Customer Experiences

By Arti Loftus October 20, 2021

The world of contact centers and customer service continues to evolve as consumer lives become increasingly connected, digital and diverse. There are dozens of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), sophisticated analytics, predictive personalization, and impressive innovation and automation that seek to make customers happier and organizations more intelligent and efficient.

According to a report published this week by Genesys, a pioneer in customer support for decades, now positioning themselves as a “global cloud leader in customer experience orchestration,” the headline today is downright obvious: customers want their problems solved with a single interaction.

Mind the Gap

More than half (54%) of consumers want a company to solve their issues at first interaction, yet only one-third of businesses prioritize first-contact resolution (FCR).

Businesses instead prioritize focusing on professionalism and friendliness (48%) in customer service interactions and being quick to respond to requests (38%).

Increasingly, businesses see customer experience as the main driver of consumer trust and loyalty, the study confirmed, “so much so that it has become a board-level priority for more than half (58%) of companies in the study. With 70% of consumers believing a company is only as good as its customer service, it’s clear the customer experience can be a significant business advantage when done well. Yet, the fact that resolving a customer’s issue the first time isn’t a priority for more than two-thirds of businesses — and less than half (41%) believe they excel at FCR — demonstrates a significant gap in delivering the experiences consumers have come to expect.”

Raising the Bar

“Businesses are missing the mark when it comes to fully understanding what it takes to meet customer expectations, especially of first-contact resolution,” said Ginger Conlon, Customer Experience Advocate at Genesys. “We’re in a reality where consumers expect a company to know who they are and engage with the best agent that’s equipped to meet their needs. Moving beyond efficiency and focusing on delivering the right data and orchestrating the next-best-action in the ideal moment and channel are paths to success.”

Highlighted findings from the State of Customer Experience report:

Loyalty is fueled by listening — 90% of repeat customers scored a business’ ability to listen as their most important attribute. With curated content from platforms like Instagram and TikTok at their fingertips, consumers have come to expect that brands understand them and are paying attention to their likes and dislikes. Tailored experiences that show a company is listening are being rewarded with brand loyalty and advocacy. When consumers feel they’ve had a personalized experience, more than 80% said they would purchase additional items, recommend the company to a friend, and purchase repeat items — an increase of 10% from 2017.

Voice remains the most-used channel (68%), but digital channels are surging. The number of consumers interacting with customer service through messaging, mobile apps, chatbots, social media, and video calling more than doubled between 2017 and 2021. Even home assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are rising in popularity — one in 10 consumers worldwide have interacted with customer service through these devices.

More than a quarter (27%) of millennials and Generation Z consumers said they only buy from ethical and sustainable brands. As scrutiny increases on the responsibilities that businesses have to manage their social and environmental impact, younger generations are holding companies accountable for their spending power. Nearly half (46%) of consumers aged 18-34 said they prefer to buy from companies that are aligned with their social, ethical, and environmental values — even if that means paying more for goods or services. Data protection, animal welfare, health and wellness, human rights, and environmental protection ranked as the top five consumer values, respectively.

Great CX leads (40%) consumers to become brand advocates on social media. Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to praise companies for positive customer experiences. In addition to calling out a great experience, 30% would highlight the exceptional effort a company makes.

From increased headcount and budgets to rapid digital growth, to expanding capabilities, and more, the report reveals an increased focus on customer-centric experiences as a business advantage.

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of businesses are hiring more agents for their contact centers. Interactions with the contact center have more than doubled from 2020 to 2021[1], driving the need for more agents to help handle the volume. For 11% of companies in the study, the surge was so significant that they’re planning to increase headcount by more than 50% over the next year.

Budgets are increasing for nearly three-fourths of businesses. The rise in traffic and the importance of improving CX are growing business investments. Seventy-one percent of respondents received a budget increase in 2021, and about one-fifth saw a budget increase of 50% or more.

Equipping agents with innovative tools that improve the employee experience is a priority. Businesses continue to invest in new technologies to better orchestrate the customer experience — and are most excited for tools that support and improve agents’ abilities to deliver great service. Leaders see predictive analytics (59%), agent-assist technology (58%), quality management, and workforce optimization (57%) as the most valuable new technologies in managing the customer experience.

Virtual home assistants as customer service agents are on the rise. One-third of businesses are offering customer service through virtual home assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Another 29% plan to integrate customer service on this channel within the next six months. As the highest-rated channel in customer satisfaction (46%), virtual home assistants show significant opportunities to enhance customer experience.

Genesys commissioned an independent research firm to conduct a global survey of 690 CX executives and 2,629 adults over the age of 18 between April and May 2021.


Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Luke Bellos

Special Correspondent

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