Giving the Customer Full Control to Improve User Experience
The consumer market is undergoing a tectonic change with new technologies and computing capabilities challenging current structures. Customers are getting more proficient in using emerging technologies, have a stronger presence, are communicating more vigorously across channels, and are more active on online platforms shopping, comparing, recommending and reviewing products.
Service quality is now being benchmarked against a more rigorous landscape. Financial products are no longer being measured against financial services competitors. Instead customers are comparing them against an overall range of consumer products, across channels, and media. Customer service, hitherto an ‘add-on’ (and often an outsourced function) in a company’s product delivery, is now coming up-front and centre, and is now engaging the Board Room’s attention.
Companies are focusing on enhancing customer experience – of all the initiatives, the following are perhaps the most relevant and the most influential:
A customer is almost always within the reach of his mobile phone. Mobiles offer an easy way for consumers to search, obtain information and interact real-time at a point of sale, making mobile the first line for customer service, and an area that many companies are focusing their efforts on. Features increasingly available in the handset offer more opportunities for customer interaction. For example, using a mobile video chat, a customer service agent can more easily understand the customer issue and resolve the issue on the fly.
Help customers help themselves
Studies have established that, however strong your service platform, customers prefer solving issues by themselves first – before reaching out for assistance. Companies are increasingly looking to deliver robust self-service options that proactively identify, create, review, publish and maintain multimedia content that customers can use for self-service. Social media is a major intermediary - with a variety of engagement tools - blogs, how-to videos, webinars, infographics – that reaches out to customers to manage their ‘issue’ before they experience the issue – but more importantly, providing assurance to the customer that the information bank is available to assist, should the moment ever arise.
Voice of the customer through social media
Mobile and Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp (or even SMS) - offer opportunities for direct customer conversations, but they also offer the opportunity to measure the pulse of the customer. Technologies such as text mining, sentiment analysis and contextual analytics are enabling businesses assess customer behaviors, sentiments; and using these - tailor products and customize service.
Know your customer (preferences)
Data analytics is enabling companies establish preferred channels of communication, and contact centers more accurately predict what a customer needs in the short time between the customer reaching out and the agent’s initial response. These are helping speed up service and enhance the quality of support.
Predictive customer service
Neural analytics is increasingly being used to predict customer demands, and the fast-developing ‘Internet of Things’ is allowing devices to self-report operating conditions and outcomes, as a way to predict and preemptively act on customer service needs.
What does all of this mean to the company that is embarking on a customer experience management transformation?
While systems and technologies are a major component, mere availability of these technologies does not automatically translate into a superior customer experience. Success is based on a combination of factors:
•Rallying the company and all of its stakeholders to a customer-centric mission Every individual must sign up to the customer service agenda, and must hold customer delight as a key deliverable. Leadership sponsorship – the Board, the CEO and the Senior Management, and creation of an incentive structure that rewards the right customer experience behaviours is arguably the biggest success factor in transforming customer experience.
• Empowering the organization to challenge existing practices and processes and redefine its processes, with the new ecosystem in mind. New technologies risk failing if force-fitted into legacy processes.
• Being selective in the use of technologies, and only adapt those that are relevant to the business. There are many fascinating technologies available, and it is easy to be led astray. Also important is ensuring that, while using technology, companies do not lose the human touch.
• Continuous, relevant communication and engagement with the customer allows the customer full transparency around a transaction or service request, and equally provides the company with valuable data points that allow improvements inproduct design and proactive customer service.
• Training As technologies and processes change, it is vital that all participants in transaction processing and customer engagement processes remain on top of changes and are able to employ these productively.
The consumer ecosystem is morphing rapidly. How well a company adapts to, and rides on these changes will determine its ability to survive meaningfully.