Five Key Steps to Align Customer Experience with Evolving Customer Expectations [White Paper]
Today’s most competitive companies have committed to providing effective Customer Experiences (CX). Those that are considered CX leaders in their respective market segments, typically outperform the S&P by 35 percentage points. Conversely, poor customer service costs US companies over $60 billion annually. According to Forrester, 72 percent of businesses indicate that CX improvement is now their #1 priority. Effective CX designs include these five foundational components:
Easy Access to Customer Service
It must always be easy for customers to quickly find their preferred manner in which to contact your company. Too many companies hide their contact center phone numbers and online links to specialized service in an effort to push customers towards the company’s preferred channel, such as automated self-service. Other companies have dozens of different phone numbers that customers can call, causing customers to be routed all over the business to get the help they need. Making customers struggle to get service from your company simply drives them to competitors who are easier to work with.
Omni-channel Service Options
Customers demand that they can interact with brands on terms of their own choosing. That is, customers must be able to communicate through their channel of preference. There are times when traditional voice interactions are desired and other times when text-based channels such as chat, email or SMS are preferred. Sometimes customers want to leverage self-service or automated channels and other times they prefer to communicate through social platforms. While most companies today facilitate multi-channel communications across an array of channels, to be truly effective, they must deliver omni-channel experiences; experiences where customers can switch from channel to channel seamlessly. This either requires the implementation of a singular, unified channel platform or necessitates significant integration investment to integrate disparate systems. Customers become extremely frustrated when companies require them to repeat their service request or re-authenticate their account when switching from channel to channel.
Automated Speech Recognition
Most consumers groan when they interface with automated voice greeting systems (Interactive Voice Response or IVR). Most of these systems are still poorly designed, requiring callers to listen to lengthy scripts prompting them to press 5, then 3 and finally 4 to access the information or reach a contact that can help them. It’s time for companies to invest in modern experiences. Recent Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) technology advancements have transformed these phone interactions to be highly conversational, much more efficient and more pleasant for consumers. Additionally, across both speech and text channels, Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technologies can now transform unstructured inputs and loosely defined, flexible business logic rules into organized formats that machines can effectively process. These capabilities further improve automated systems’ ability to effectively and efficiently interact with live customers.
Streamlined Interaction Routing
With the rapid expansion of available channels for customers to choose from, routing of interactions has become more complex. However, routing engines have also evolved to not only handle advanced, complex routing rules governing how voice calls are directed to contact center associates, they are also now effectively governing text-based channels. These solutions are capable of handling multi-level overflow logic designs and are able to leverage extensive data about internal employees, ensuring that specific customer interactions are routed to the ideal associate. They are also able to determine if certain associates can and should be able to handle multiple transactions via different channels (multi-modal channels) simultaneously.
Efficient Transaction Processing
Managing both Handle Times and Quality/Effectiveness is the perpetual challenge in customer service. The key to success is in ensuring that customers using self-service methods or associates processing live customer transitions are presented with logical and efficient systems. Not every organization has the funds to invest in all of the technology options that help address these issues, but many challenges can be addressed with targeted investments in some of the following categories:
- CRM / Systems of Engagement – Ideally, there is one, single source for everyone to access the information that is needed when engaging with customers. Many companies use internally-built systems, while others invest millions in enterprise-grade options. Whatever the case, these systems should ideally provide essential features such as scripting, decision trees, prescriptive content, 360˚ customer/transaction views, relationship management details, etc.
- Knowledge Base (KB) – Enterprise content management systems can dramatically streamline access to the myriad policies and procedures that are often critical to addressing customer inquiries.
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Most applications have gaps and opportunities when it comes to functionality and workflows. RPA platforms now make it easier to address challenges such as retrieval of data based on business rules, copying data from one system to another and automating rules-based tasks. All of these can make an associate’s job easier and allow them to focus on the customer as opposed to the system.
- Virtual Assistants – Real-time technologies that monitor user actions and proactively prescribe content or action are becoming more and more effective. These technologies can dynamically change scripting or the presentation of content from systems like KBs or automatically navigate users through application screens.
Typically, these systems are provided through an array of disparate technology vendors, as no single vendor is currently the leader across all of these capabilities, and even the best and broadest platforms are not affordable for many organizations. Identifying the business use cases that address the gaps in your current self-service and associate workflows, in conjunction with establishing a technical infrastructure that facilitates the integration of these platforms, can result in significant improvements to both associate and customer experiences.
Each of these areas are critical foundational elements of a company’s CX design. While advanced capabilities in all of these areas is ideal, ensuring that the groundwork is in place and that a prioritized roadmap exists to continue to evolve in these essential areas will help an organization proactively improve the customer experiences they offer and stay ahead of the competition.
To learn more about improving your customer experience design, check out our white paper, “Five Key Steps to Align Customer Experience with Evolving Customer Expectations.”