Everyone knows that the customer comes first. But what does that really look like in a customer service environment? Do you really have to change your ways to stay competitive? At Mitel Partner Experience 2019, ASC, Noetica and Red Box provided their expertise on all things CX including what they’ve seen in the marketplace, what they’re doing about it and which steps will ensure you make a good impact on your customers.
What is a “good” customer experience?
Modern technology is making it easier to engage with the customer in a meaningful way. We are consistently connected and used to intuitive and predictive experiences like Amazon, Google and Spotify, which adjust suggestions and recommendations based on a consumer’s past interests. Ultimately, we now expect an intuitive, personalized experience in each way we’re interacting.
But what does a “good” customer experience really look like? What kind of experience keeps us coming back? Customer analytics specialists and Mitel partners ASC, Noetica, and Red Box sat down with us at the Celtic Manor in Newport, UK, to reveal their insights. What they depicted was a consistent, streamlined interaction that leaves the right impression with each customer, every time.
“Each touch point between the customer and the brand would ideally be personal and even predictive in the sense that the brand may surprise the customer with suggestions that are personally relevant but not intrusive,” says Danny Singer, CEO at Noetica.
The perfect customer experience, agrees Cliff Chandler, Managing Director, ASC UK Technologies, must be “based on a set of interactions that consistently exceed the expectations of a customer, which results in the customer becoming an advocate of the company.”
Exceeding expectations, according to Nadine Edmondson, Head of Marketing at Red Box, is about “developing a deeper understanding of each customer to optimize and personalize (their) interactions”.
Remembering what matters
It seems clear that the ultimate customer experience is one where a person has been impressed enough to recommend your business to others. However, the panelists said they often see businesses lose sight of that. Instead, many businesses get distracted by operational goals like performance drivers and head counts.
“As consumers we are experiencing frustration far too often when attempting to communicate with brands,” says Noetica’s Danny Singer. “For many organizations, the focus is still very much on using new technologies to reduce costs rather than improving the customer experience.”
And yet, according to Deloitte and Touche, customer-centric companies are around 60% more profitable compared to companies that are not.
“Research suggests that a customer’s effort is closely linked to their perceived user experience of a product or service and their brand loyalty,” says Red Box’s Nadine Edmondson. “So putting the customer at the heart of customer interactions is really about understanding the customer journey and tailoring their experience accordingly. AI and analytics engines support this and are able to provide the insights to areas of improvement for every voice interaction.”
ASC’s Cliff Chandler agrees. “Combining the data obtained with CRM will allow you to collect a wealth of data, giving you a full view of the customer,” he says. “(This data) can be used to understand (customer) buying behavior, interests and engagement.”
There are stumbling blocks
So if it’s a no-brainer to put a customer as the focus of business transformation, and the benefits of doing so are clear, why aren’t more businesses transforming in this direction? The reason is threefold.
Many businesses don’t see the value in investing in CX technologies, says Danny, because the ROI is not always tangible, immediate or obvious. “The return on such investment may come much later in the form of increased customer retention, better brand image and increased sales,” he says. “None of this is quick. Reputations are notoriously slow to build and painfully quick to lose.”
Cliff says the problem lies in how customer data is being used. “Just capturing the data and not using it will lead to having organizational data silos. These silos lead to breaks in processes which in turn lead to poor CX.”
The answer, says Nadine, is about empowering the agents by using the data collected to enable them to provide better, wiser service to callers. “The capability to analyze customer voice interactions at scale can provide hugely valuable insights to guide coaching, define best practices and assist with identifying the relevance and prioritization of content creation.”
Technology as a driver
Obtaining relevant content is one factor in achieving a better customer experience, but what a business does with that data is the defining factor. Danny says we need to “provide call center agents with systems that deliver the best knowledge at the best time in the most reliable and consistent manner. In other words, use artificial intelligence in support of agents.” This will lead to less training, fewer skills required and lower levels of assistance. “This is what our technology does now and will do even more in the future. Delivering intelligent agent guides that can respond to every possible situation and link to all relevant data stores allows all agents to concentrate on listening to the customer more and driving all interactions to swift and successful conclusions.”
Cliff says recording and analytics should be critical elements of a business’ CX strategy. When content becomes more accessible and critical information and trends are revealed, the data can be used to leverage a CX strategy. With well thought-out, purposeful use of technology, the benefits can be significant. “Speech analytics, transcription, emotion detection, keyword, phrase and trend spotting tools can be used to give an insight into the customer interaction. Quality management tools can be used to provide staff training and retraining. Rating, scoring, eLearning and coaching modules along with an extensive range of quality reports, can be used as input to improve CX.”
A purposeful strategy starts here
According to the panelists, artificial intelligence (AI), chat bots, and a focus on synergy between organizations are wise areas to focus on for a future-proof CX strategy.
“(In the future) openness and transparency will be key,” says Cliff. “There will be a lot of synergy between organizations based on their CX models, inviting customers and suppliers into the workplace. It’s happening now with customer experience centers and physical spaces where the customers and suppliers can get a real view of the company and its processes.”
Nadine says she sees transparency happening in another way. “The biggest trends we see are around automation of agent performance and of immediate customer experience feedback,” she says, adding that technology today is already leveraging voice and using AI as the enabler for better use of customer data. Danny agrees, painting a scene of the chatbot as a collector of customer data, to assist the human agent in serving the customer more intuitively.
“My expectation is that AI will become a major factor in CX, but not in the way that we expect,” says Danny. “Voice bots will not be replacing call center agents in any significant numbers any time soon. However, (they) will become an indispensable virtual assistant to agents by listening in to live calls and offering timely and insightful assistance to agents. This will not only reduce training time, but will also dramatically improve customer satisfaction, increase first-time resolution rates and reduce handling time.”
Time to change
“As the nature of work changes, teams will need to be more flexible. And will have to respond faster,” says Cliff.
But it’s not enough to just be more efficient; consumers need to feel the satisfaction of an individualized experience. The key is to keep the customer at the heart of your business transformation, using technology to gather data that will ultimately help humanize any interactions.
The panelists say that AI is there not to replace humans, but to increase that personal touch by providing the right details at the right time. And that, in the end, provides the satisfying kind of business transaction that keeps us all coming back for more.