Frédéric DurandFrédéric DurandOctober 8, 2018
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7min797

Staying in touch is not difficult in today’s technology-driven, interconnected society.

The wealth of smart devices and innovative apps at our disposal mean that instant communication is at our fingertips, transforming the way we shop and engage with brands.

Businesses now offer their services across a variety of channels, online and offline. Mobile customers enjoy the convenience of e-commerce sites or doing their online banking via a smartphone. As a result, consumers expect their customer service to be mobile and on-demand too.

However, making your customer service available and accessible does not have to be technology-driven. Rather, by combining the power of your human customer service and digital channels, businesses can deliver a constantly-connected service which will exceed customer expectations and strengthen brand loyalty.

According to Engine’s latest annual Customer Experience report, over 60 percent of customers want ‘simpler, flexible, and more affordable customer service options’. Furthermore, 58 percent of consumers suggest that businesses should provide better ‘training and performance incentives to customer-facing staff’.

At the heart of great customer service is accessibility. Whether this is from a human customer service agent or an online FAQ or live chat, customers want quick, effective, and above all helpful responses to their queries. Indeed, Accenture’s recent Digital Consumer Survey emphasised the importance of brands’ merging physical and digital experiences in order to meet customer expectations.

Providing both human and digital customer service channels is a must for satisfying customers who want greater choice and flexibility. Whilst communication has become increasingly electronic in the past 20 years voice is still the most natural means of expression for human beings. 58 percent of consumers prefer talking with humans for a quick response to questions, and over 70 percent prefer human interaction generally when dealing with service issues.

The simplicity and ease of conveying information with voice makes it a valuable channel for brands who want to be close to their customers. Call agents can read the tone and varying emotions better through a customer’s voice, helping them to react appropriately and suggest the best resolutions. Furthermore, one-to-one interaction gives customers a more personalised experience, particularly when advisors understand the customer’s history.

Those who are less comfortable using technology might struggle if a business only offered virtual assistance. Connected customer service is about understanding each unique customer. By taking into account the varying customer groups, ages, and lifestyles, businesses can create a service which accommodates the needs of the individual. Consequently, the voice channel remains an imperative alongside other customer service touch points.

Digital channels are of course a crucial addition to the customer service experience. By providing consumers with a choice of touch points businesses can deliver a service which reflects busy, modern lifestyles. At the same time, digital channels help call agents to cope with the volume of service enquiries so that all customers receive an excellent service.

Individuals who work long hours might find it harder to call a customer service representative. This is where live chat capability such as chatbots or an automated call service are useful, allowing businesses to reach more customers at any time. Simple measures such as ensuring the brand website is constantly updated will also help customers to find the right information or contact details as needed.

With the latest omnichannel technology businesses can increase their reactivity and response time with queries. Live chats with pre-recorded functionalities, customer-journey maps and screen-sharing functions help agents to give customers an efficient, effective service whatever the volume of demand. The key to an effective digital customer service is having a state-of-the-art Customer Interaction Management (CIM) solution which can manage the various channels, supporting employees whilst giving customers an intuitive service.

Connected customer service also means taking a proactive approach. It is necessary for brands to make themselves as accessible as possible for customers which might involve contacting the customer first. Whether that is calling the customer from time to time or sending a personalised SMS detailing the latest offers or unique discounts, such interactions demonstrate that the brand values the customer and their loyalty. Customer service is far more than a helpline.

Customer service is inextricable from the overall brand experience and creating a tailored service which reaches out to the consumer will enhance relations.

 Businesses must deliver a flexible, constantly connected customer service to stand out with today’s mobile consumers. Staying in touch with customers, however, does not have to rely on digital means. The best customer service will take an omnichannel approach and utilise the empathy of human voice interaction with the convenience of digital channels. The priority should always be making excellent customer service as accessible possible, at any time and on any platform.


Frédéric DurandFrédéric DurandJuly 19, 2018
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7min1010

In a constantly connected and mobile society, providing an omnichannel customer service has become indispensable for brands looking to connect with busy customers. 

A phone conversation is no longer the only means for customer interaction; customers today communicate via SMS, email, social media platforms, live chat and more. Nearly 50 percent of customers find themselves crossing back and forth between digital and physical interactions, even in a single conversation.

The omnichannel trend reflects consumers’ desire for greater choice and personalisation: they can select the mode of communication which best suits them, use their own devices and access information at any time of day.

Excellent assistance has long been the foundation of customer service. Now, modern consumers also demand speed and immediacy, and an inability to provide this can be fatal for brand engagement and customer loyalty. An Aspect survey on US consumers revealed that 61 percent of millennials stopped using a business based on poor customer service in 2017, while Accenture research has found that the estimated cost of customers switching brands in the UK is $308 billion.

With the proliferation of digital and physical platforms increasing competition amongst businesses, it is more important than ever to create a service which stands out for consumers.

An omnichannel customer service can present certain technological and structural challenges, however if businesses consider these key areas before implementation they can deliver a truly continuous, personalised customer experience.

 Seamless integration

 The success of omnichannel customer service depends upon the seamlessness of each contact point. Customers do not want to repeat information, particularly lengthy personal details, each time they converse with a new call agent or switch to a different channel.

With customer service teams having to operate outbound calls, emails, instant messaging and more, it is necessary to adopt a Customer Interaction Management (CIM) solution which not only manages these channels and the volume effectively, but can integrate with your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This supports the transfer of customer data between channels; SMS, live chat and call campaigns can be tailored with customer insight, agents can access records easily and time wastage overall is minimised.

This integration is necessary for making customer interactions more productive. Call agents gain greater control and the customer benefits from a more personalised and continuous experience.

High quality experience across all channels

The millennial generation is the largest consumer demographic, and 22 percent of this group expect a reply to a customer service query on social media within 10 minutes. Whichever channels your business operates across for customer interaction, the same standard and quality must be maintained to meet customer expectations and reduce churn.

Investing in the technology behind your channels will see great returns for the Customer Experience. Voice interaction is one example of this. Long call waiting times and dissatisfying conversations remain common complaints amongst customers, creating a negative experience.

An intuitively-designed Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system makes the keypad selection process easier for customers, allowing the caller to be quickly connected with the appropriate customer service agent. A well-executed omnichannel experience will further reduce strain and congestion levels, resulting in more productive staff as well as satisfied customers.

Don’t neglect the human touch

Understanding your customers’ identity and how they are most likely to contact your business should be the basis of any omnichannel approach. Digital channels are a key part of the omnichannel strategy, however this does not mean that voice interaction has no value in the communication process.

Customer service still involves customer emotions, requiring sensitivity and empathy. The traditional mode of human interaction maintains a vital place in the customer journey and indeed 40 percent of customer service interactions still occur on the phone.

Often explaining an issue or concern is best conducted across the phone, particularly as artificial intelligence devices as yet lack the ability to handle complex and emotive requests. The best multi-channels will balance the human and the digital to ensure customers find the right responses.

Instant communication, instant results

A choice of communication modes is ideal for accommodating the on-the-go lifestyle of modern customers. However, the experience is more frustrating than useful when customers cannot obtain the right answers. Intelligent devices such as chatbots are excellent for instant interaction, yet it is important that these devices are responsive and able to handle customer requests.

The same is also true for social media sites which are becoming an increasingly popular platform for customer service. A brand’s Twitter or Facebook page will likely deal with a huge volume of customer interactions daily, often leaving customers without a reply. Customers do want instant customer service, however ensuring that they receive useful assistance is still paramount to building a great customer experience.

As ever, it is vital that businesses consider what customers expect from their customer service. A frictionless experience across all the contact points depends upon superior customer knowledge and understanding how, why and when your customers will require assistance. Incorporating some intelligent tools which integrate your channels will simplify the process for customer service teams, allowing them to focus on the human communication.


Frédéric DurandFrédéric DurandMarch 12, 2018
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4min876

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a much discussed and debated subject in recent months.

From newspapers to world leaders, everyone is talking about what machine intelligence and robotics might do for businesses. With all the buzz it is generating, AI is rapidly emerging as a lucrative technology. By 2035, global consulting firm Accenture has suggested that AI could add an estimated £654 billion to the UK economy.

The upcoming Government Digital Strategy will formalise the UK’s investment in cutting-edge technologies and aims to position the country as a pioneer in the field. While there is much fascination (and profit) surrounding AI across various sectors, there is also an anxiety over the future of machine intelligence and its impact on human jobs.

At the end of 2017 Gartner reported this troubling statistic: AI will create 2.3 million jobs by 2020 but eliminate 1.8 million. The complexity of this new technology is illustrated by a recent study on AI in France. There, the popular feeling towards AI is a mixture of curiosity, concern and excitement, with 72 percent of individuals having an overall “positive” attitude towards the technology.

Inevitably, many businesses are now asking whether they should incorporate AI into their services. Many of us experience AI in our daily lives, whether we are using Amazon’s Alexa or conversing with a chatbot on an online retail site. The end user can experience more efficient and personalised services, which in turn improves their relationship with the product and brand. Through machine intelligence businesses can develop richer customer insight; meeting and even exceeding the demands of consumers.

With Customer Experience being one of the most widely known benefiters of AI, it is unsurprising that call and contact centres is an important industry which employ AI services. I believe that it is not a question of whether businesses should utilise AI, but how they use it.

AI has become the ultimate symbol of modernity in business, yet while many companies trialled AI in 2017 they also discovered that it is not a magic tool. Intelligent machines and robotics are building blocks which, when integrated into processes and client pathways, allow businesses to boost productivity, performance, and quality of service.

In call centres, using intelligent conversational agents should inspire rather than create fear; the purpose of AI is not about replacing employees but rather augmenting their capabilities. Adding intelligent voicebot services equips call agents with the means to better support customers and manage recurring requests.

While there is still much concern surrounding AI and its long-term effects, it is nevertheless a technology which holds infinite possibilities. Ultimately, the key to machine intelligence in business is incorporation: integrating these technologies into business processes to enrich human capacities. The result is greater customer engagement, productivity and commercial impact




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