Digitalisation is a double-edged sword. While it makes life easier by automating processes and helping consumers to self-serve, some might argue it offers too much choice. Colin Hay says it’s time to stay calm and carry on with a five-point plan for super-connected customer experience.
Today’s cloud-based contact centre solutions make it easier to deliver good customer service whatever the channel. The real challenge is how to provide a digital customer experience (CX) that stands out from the crowd when there is so much noise and too much choice. Multi-channel or omni-channel? AI or no AI? The rapid proliferation of new technologies and buzzwords is enough to reduce even the most focused organisations to blind panic. Some rush in and digitalise simply because everyone else is doing it while others grind to a state of sluggish inertia because change is scary and ‘it’s always been done this way’ is a safer option.
How do contact centres find the happy medium? How do they build a digital CX programme that guarantees successful customer outcomes? The secret is to keep calm, stay focused and follow a few golden rules:
5 steps to CX perfection
1. Introduce relevance into the digital equation – don’t just introduce technology for technology’s sake. Always keep the customer at the centre of the digital design process. Think about the dialogues you have with customers, listen to your agents, become a mystery shopper and try out the contact centre to discover the channels and technology that really work. Then, back this up with the performance metrics that matter. Customers just want fast, positive results so align KPIs accordingly. Focus on Net promoter, Customer Satisfaction (CSat) and Customer Effort scores along with customer churn and first resolution rates rather than Average Handling Times (AHTs).
2. Blend omni-channel with AI for complete customer interactions – exploit the latest innovations in Artificial Intelligence such as virtual assistants, digital assistants and bots. The beauty of AI is that it offers practically unlimited capabilities to allow organisations to capture customer conversations that vastly improve service levels and even anticipate customers’ needs by up/cross-selling other products based on their previous purchase or web-browsing history – a real competitive differentiator.
The human touch counts when it comes to handling complex matters, emotionally sensitive or personal issues. Blend instantaneous, multi-channel, round-the-clock digital self-sufficiency with personal service. Just be sure to make the hand-over between virtual and live agents seamless.
3. Remove on-screen clutter – a tidy desktop equals a tidy mind and ultimately a tidy profit. However, on-screen clutter such as multiple pop-ups and different applications frequently get in the way of delivering first-class CX. It’s time to take a closer look at the latest agent applications. These are designed to remove on-screen clutter by linking to enterprise systems, selected third parties and knowledgebases through widgets. Customisable and flexible, widgets allow every agent to be presented with the information and functionality most relevant to them in any given situation without switching screens or resorting to pop-ups. This provides a single view of customer conversations and accelerates an agent’s ability to improve CX all in one place.
4. Invest in the right people skills – there’s no point spending time and money on the perfect digital infrastructure if your human skills fail to live up to the same exacting standards. When recruiting new agents, or training long-standing experienced team members, look for candidates with high levels of emotional intelligence. These are the ones who instinctively understand how the customer is feeling and use that information to influence a positive result even when conversations are passed to them from a digital assistant or chatbot. They grasp the importance of bridging the digital and human worlds and their holistic approach is vital to the success of a digital and connected CX strategy.
5. Choose cloud – maximising cloud-based integration capabilities improves efficiency and builds customer loyalty as a result of fast and highly personalised interactions. A single view of customer interactions aids decision-making and allows proactive management of response times. What is more, when it comes to protecting sensitive customer data, the Cloud comes into its own. Using a simple Web browser, a single sign-on is all that is required and the ability to switch freely between applications and payment solutions to boost security levels.
Breathe deeply, stay calm and carry on towards the perfect digital CX strategy. Focus on the digital channels that matter to your customers, experiment with the latest AI and join the dots with agents who effortlessly link both human and digital worlds. You’ll stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.
Colin Hay is VP Sales at Puzzel UK