Customer expectations have changed. Always-connected societies and integrated digital experiences have fundamentally evolved how we consume products and services; a base-line shift in how consumers choose their loyalties.
Customers now want to communicate on their terms (when they want) and they don’t want to waste time dealing with inefficient systems or spend their personal time waiting at someone else’s convenience.
Factor in email, chat, mobile, web, social media, call centres... and you have a complex multi-channel environment. This complexity often means that customer data is scattered and customer experience (CX) is inconsistent for the end-user.
This is a challenge that contact centre managers and technologists have been tackling for many years; developing the right skills, building process and implementing tools to deliver a truly blended, consistent omni-channel customer experience. This continues to be the elusive holy grail of customer care.
In real terms, many organisations still live in a world where communication channels live in ‘silos’ and customer experience is inconsistent across different platforms.
And for business leaders who see customer experience as a key differentiator; this ‘lack of control’ can be costly.
But before we discuss the challenges of delivering excellent customer experience for large enterprises, it’s important to firstly define what CX actually is.
What is CXy?
Gone are the days of treating customer interactions as lone incidents; where a problem or query is addressed and then shelved in the filing cabinet. A customer-first strategy is about creating a brand experience every time a customer interacts with your organisation. The customer journey is no longer just about meeting customer expectations at each touchpoint – it goes far beyond that.
Forrester Research defines CX as, “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” This can be broken down into three main components:
Useful: The customer perceives the brand as offering some form of value.
Usable: The customer perceives the value as easy to find and functional.
Enjoyable: The customer finds the brand emotionally engaging and enjoys interacting with them.
In summary; NPS is hard to move! Extraordinary customer experience is about ensuring that every interaction must also connect customers emotionally, is meaningful and creates wow moments.
The Omni-channel Environment
We have already touched on communication ‘silos’ where each channel is separate from each other, data is strewn and the customer experience is therefore: inconsistent. Not only is this bad for the customer but it is also costly for the business.
A Kantar IMRB survey found that 66% of consumers stop using a brand after a poor customer service experience. The stakes are high and businesses need to respond!
Needless to say, there needs to be synergy across every channel and in every interaction with a customer. Data must be stored in one place, or at least, every representative must have access to it in real time.
Your customers are as busy as you are and from their perspective: are the most important customers you have.
According to research by Accenture, 89% of customers get frustrated if they are asked to repeat their issues to multiple representatives. Customers expect their issue to be resolved quickly, painlessly and on the spot.
Today’s customers expect better...
For businesses who use customer experience as a key differentiator; they need to be better. Poor customer experience is a sure-fire road to failure.
In order to provide a great customer experience, businesses need to become ‘CXy’. Being ‘CXy’ means that you are building and nurturing meaningful relationships with your customers.
This is a phrase that is overused in marketing and business circles. But it is very difficult to achieve without having representatives assigned to individual customers. The cost of such customer management is significant to enterprises looking to increase margins and decrease costs.
Inbound phone calls account for the most expensive customer channels. Multiply these numbers by the average number of inbound inquiries and you have a snapshot of the cost of servicing these channels alone.
For enterprises that deal with thousands of customer interactions a day in an ever competitive global marketplace - decreasing operational costs is a top priority to maintain margins.
There are a few options available. Businesses can encourage customers to use more cost-effective channels, increase channel efficiencies or invest in emerging technologies such as adopting digital employees.
However, customers are more demanding than ever and expect to interact with you on their terms.
Simply discouraging customers from using specific channels is only likely to irritate your customers.
Instead, companies must make every channel worth using. A seamless omni-channel experience that takes the emphasis away from individual channels and focuses on solving customer problems.
CX of the Future
Experts predict that the next shift in customer experience will move from an omni-channel strategy to a channel-less strategy. This is where the focus changes from offering more channels to offering a seamless CX that integrates channels together.
Channel-less CX will begin to pair channels together where man and machine work seamlessly together.
Customers will be able to interact with digital assistants as easily as human representatives, and switch between voice, video and chat without interruption.
This will be a move towards a future where all CX channels and data will be fully integrated.
Instead of choosing a channel for an end to end solution; customers will simply interact with a company in real-time with the experience largely being the same regardless of method.
This evolution of CX is already taking shape. FaceMe have designed digital employees to be the most natural, scalable and versatile conversational platform in the world. This enables enterprises to deliver a consistent customer experience and provide a seamless integration between every channel.
Digital Employees are not just another channel; they are a company representative with their own personality. This persona offers businesses the unique opportunity to build relationships with their customers without the hindrance of cross-channel inconsistencies.
In essence, Digital Employees are a move towards the channel-less future; the platform creates an extension of existing customer service environments – facilitating a seamless relationship with customers and utilising the most relevant channel, and skills for the customers’ required outcome.
To summarise, excellent customer experience that is delivered consistently will differentiate good businesses from the great.
And while the demands and expectations of customers will continue to evolve as technology evolves; what won’t change is businesses that put their customers first will outperform competitors.