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4min360

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of new book Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, today begins a new feature in Customer Experience Magazine, in which he offers his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering.

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments…

“As the owner of an SME with limited resources, how can I keep up with the level of CX that today’s customers expect? What are some simple and cheap methods of providing it?”

Every organisation has a Customer Experience, and always has had. Size and scale of the company is irrelevant – it is as important to understand the basic fundamentals as a company of two people, as it is in a corporation of thirty thousand.

In principle, the smaller the company, the ‘easier’ it should be to have everyone in it working towards delivering an experience that meets (and sometimes exceeds) customer expectation. The key is to ensure you have absolute clarity and focus. Large organisations struggle with both of these things – yet so do smaller ones. To ensure that you have the clarity and focus needed, you should make certain you are able to answer the following questions at a minimum:

Do I know who my customers are?

Not just as an account number, but as real people. To do this, everyone in my company must understand what customers want from us, what their challenges are, and what they value most.

Do I know what my company should be doing for my customers?

What experience do you want them to have? The best way for a small company to answer this question is with three more questions! Inspired by the Golden Circle methodology created by Simon Sinek:

a) why does my company exist in the first place – what is its purpose?

b) how can I make the purpose a reality?

c) what products/services do my clients actually need?

Every employee MUST know the answers to these questions and be continually focused on delivering the experience you want your customers to have.

Does every employee know the role they play in delivering the experience you want your customers to have?

Ensuring they have clarity on this, coupled with giving them the ability to think and act in the interests of the customer, should enable your purpose to live and breathe.

Ensuring that your whole organisation understands these questions and knows the role they play, is not expensive to do. The secret is to keep it simple. Simplicity of the message combined with a never-ending commitment to delivering it, will be the difference between a truly customer-centric organisation and one that is not.

Start every day reminding your people of it – a five minute meeting is not difficult to do, but will suffice to make sure that your purpose is at the front and centre of everyone’s minds – every single working day.


Joey MooreJoey MooreMay 16, 2018
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7min622

In an increasingly fluid retail marketplace, where purchasing continues to shift from the physical to the digital, companies both big and small must look for new ways to differentiate their brands, build loyalty and keep their customers coming back for more.

Whether through personalisation, same-day delivery, or digital payment solutions such as Apple Pay, retailers are turning to new technologies as the source of this differentiation.

At the forefront of this trend is a focus on Customer Experience, with brands increasingly realising that it can be just as beneficial to change the way consumers experience a brand as it can be to change a product itself.

Unfortunately for retailers, however, many of the experiential factors that they must use to differentiate their brands are extremely subtle. As a result, it can be difficult to identify those areas of the customer’s experience that are points of frustration or cause for cart abandonment. To address this challenge, retailers are once again turning to technology – this time in the form of artificial intelligence (AI).

Research suggests that as many as 80 percent of businesses incorporate some form of AI into their organisations, with customer service being the most popular application. Yet in retail, we find that many are basic examples of AI and machine learning – either simple personalisation scripts or basic customer service chatbots. And looking ahead, retailers’ plans to incorporate AI do not yet extend much beyond robotic chat-boxes in their ecommerce stores.

Yet there are potentially hundreds of examples of retail tools and applications where AI could be used to improve the Customer Experience. Here are three such applications that we expect to come to the fore in 2018:

1. AI-Powered Personalisation

AI-Powered Personalisation involves providing visitors with specific content and offers based on the purchasing behaviours of previous customers. Sounds familiar? It’s true that these principles of personalisation have long been a staple of the ecommerce industry, but AI takes this toolset to a new level. By analysing a huge wealth of customer data, machine learning can tailor offers based on everything from weather patterns to current user moods.

Such advanced personalisation technologies already exist, but very few retailers are embracing them. In part, this is due to the silos and lack of connectivity that exists across a brand’s data sets, with the average marketing department using 12 different tools to personalise its content.

To effectively personalise content and genuinely improve customer experiences, AI requires as much information as possible about customers’ existing interactions with a brand, but retailers are faced with disjointed data sets, that are difficult for AI systems to analyse.

The key to successful personalisation is seamlessness, where websites and analytics work together to inform AI tools that will create actionable insights for developing more relevant ecommerce campaigns.

2. Behavioural analysis

While there have been plenty of retail surveys asking consumers for their views on the optimum design and flow of ecommerce sites, the reality is that such responses cannot offer the same level of insights that behavioural web data provides. Only by monitoring how consumers are actually browsing a site – whether through mouse tracking, click paths or behavioural analytics – can retailers build a true understanding of what their customers are looking for.

Such behavioural data provides invaluable insights, but it requires significant time and effort to review and analyse. This is where artificial intelligence comes in. By crunching the massive volumes of behavioural data collected across a site, AI can find the subtle points of frustration so they can be removed from or improved within the user experience.

3. Identifying hidden consumer trends/patterns

Tracking consumer behaviours through customer log-ins allows you to open up previously unseen insights. For example, if you own a pizzeria and you require customers to log in each time they make a purchase, with the right AI program, you can start to analyse predictive patterns, suggesting deals, combos and preferred toppings, ultimately resulting in a faster delivery time. By speeding up the process of ordering – and the potential delivery time – AI helps to provide a more seamless Customer Experience. While this may seem like a fairly minor improvement, in reality, these subtle AI-driven changes can be the deciding factor in whether a consumer chooses to return to your ecommerce site in future, or try a competitor instead.

As an example of such competitive advantage, consider the Arcadia Group – a collection of nine popular fashion brands. By incorporating an intelligent, AI-driven cross-selling and upselling system, Arcadia Group increased order value by 67 percent – a significant increase based on only a small change to the company’s existing processes.

While AI will never be a perfect predictor for human behaviour, it can help us to make seemingly minor – yet high impact – improvements in Customer Experience, which can ultimately mean the difference between making a sale or not. To start on this journey, retailers must first ensure that they are collecting customer data in a meaningful and joined-up way.

At the end of the day, an AI system can only be as effective as the data that it works from, it is down to retailers to build the relationships and data sets needed to feed this machine.


Bhupender SinghBhupender SinghMay 15, 2018
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4min384

Billing and accounting errors have become disappointingly normal for the telco industry; a recent study from software company Brite Bill found that a substantial proportion of complaints about telecoms operators were due to billing and contract issues, with billing issues accounting for 30 percent of complaints.

As a way to compete in the new digital age, telecom providers have diversified their services into wireless, broadband, TV & digital, and M&A activity to thrive in challenging market conditions. But unfortunately broadening their remit has opened them up to overlap, negligence, and redundancy in billing.

Telecoms companies are under pressure to put an end to the overbilling of customers for the services they use. This requires a conscious effort to implement internal controls and processes which provide a holistic overview of customer activity and span across different services offerings.

Telcos providers work from multiple systems, which makes it harder for them to create an agile system fit to compete against new innovators. Ageing legacy systems are one of the main causes of inaccurate telecom billing for customers. This traps service providers in a repetitive cycle of overcharging, slapped with fines and investigations by regulators.

Success in today’s business landscape hinges on a telecom provider’s ability to deliver high quality customer service. Delays in telecom providers dealing with customer requests can fuel further frustration.

At one point or another we’ve all felt the stress of waiting endlessly in a queue, and so can understand the urgency of getting in touch with someone when a problem arises – especially when it’s something as crucial as billing. Telecom providers can improve customer experience by carefully listening to feedback and maintaining quality customer service when problems occur. With the stakes in the battle for customers higher than ever, innovative technologies can boost efficiency for back-office processes and can manage customer requests in a more timely and accurate manner.

Automation can also enable telecoms businesses to take a proactive approach to customer care by modernising the back office. For instance, automation can reduce the average handling time for billing calls by 70 percent, allowing staff to direct their energy towards customer needs and provide the best experience possible.

Real-time data allows telecos to measure user experience, enabling better informed decisions. Monitoring customer behaviour at different touch points of a customer’s journey allows businesses to adopt a proactive approach and pivot accordingly. With brand loyalty being a thing of the past, customers will not be afraid to air their discontent on social media platforms after a bad experience or instantly look elsewhere.

In order to reduce this risk, telecoms companies need to focus on improving contactability and cutting down the call rate, ensuring that complaints are handled effectively. Partnering with digital experts who have deep domain knowledge of the industry will support telco companies in their quest to become more agile. It will enable them to take back market share from new entrants who are not hindered by old data management systems.


Ian GoldingIan GoldingMay 14, 2018
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12min416

Customer Experience professional consultant Ian Golding is well known to CXM readers thanks to his role as a Non-Executive Editor and a CX Masterclass leader, but his influence is expanding dramatically with the recent publication of his first book, Customer What? The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

Now available to purchase from Amazon, this new work is set to become the bible for businesses keen to improve their CX offering, and the first port of call for Customer Experience professionals seeking to fine-tune their skills.

Customer Experience Magazine is proud to be publishing exclusive excerpts from the tome, beginning with an insight into why modern retailers are at a disadvantage to their historical counterparts when it comes to being able to provide a memorable experience for shoppers…

 

I have observed, and been part of, a tidal wave of focus on customer experience. It has always existed (although few realised it), and customers have always been willing to give feedback. But businesses have only recently started to recognise that doing the right thing by their customers, and actively managing the experience, might make sense.

A few years back, my family and I were honoured to take part in a BBC1 ‘living history’ programme called Turn Back Time: The Family. It was an experience like no other, and we were transported back in time to the turn of the 20th century to experience life as our ancestors lived it and understand how life for the family unit has changed over time.

Our experience started in 1914. Life in pre-war Britain felt much simpler than it is today. Although shopping by mail order had been invented, most shopping happened in person, in a physical shop, with real things in it! The overwhelming majority of people didn’t own a car, so most customers would shop locally with independent traders in the high street (remember them?). Payment was also pretty simple – cash or cheque, with no plastic in sight.

As a father in 1914, I learned how important etiquette was. Manners and politeness were evident in all interactions – at home, at work, and as a customer.

Shops were very orderly places, staffed by smartly dressed shopkeepers standing behind tall counters. They knew most of their customers by name, and would pick, and wrap, products by hand while chatting to customers. Most of the Time the shopkeepers did not even have to ask what their customers wanted to buy – they knew already. There was not a great deal of variety in terms of the products on offer, but the shopkeeper knew each customer’s preferences, their family’s preferences, and their budget, and customers trusted them to help find just the right thing, just as they would trust their children’s head teacher or the family doctor.

Fast-forward 100 or so years. Today, customers do not just have two purchase channels to choose from. We have ten that I can think of – physical stores; the telephone; the web; mobile; live chat;SMS; mail order; TV; social; AI-assisted. I am sure I have forgotten one or two! Local availability is not a consideration either – we can buy anything and everything we want, in any way we want, from anywhere in the world. We can, in theory, live our lives without ever talking to anyone or setting foot outside our front door.

It is not at all uncommon to conduct an entire transaction without a human being involved, and even if one is, they are often just reading back a pre-written script. In shops, it is unlikely that anyone will know you personally. Trust isn’t the currency it used to be – it’s likely you are so well informed by technology that the people working in the shop won’t need to help you make your purchase. In fact, if you need help you are likely to turn to Google – you trust the wisdom of the crowd to tell you what others think about an item before you commit to buying it.

So, when was the best time to be a customer? The personal, simple experience of 1914 or the global, convenience-led experience of today?

I am not advocating that we literally turn back time – far from it. It is impossible to deny the remarkable ease and convenience afforded today’s consumer by the amazing connected world we are part of. However, the experience is less fulfilling somehow. It does not always feel good being a customer of the global corporations that distribute the products and services we buy. We create and share stories of organisations that fail to connect emotionally with us. Not only do they not know our names, but very few seem to understand us. Ironically, we’re looking for something we’ve lost: trust. And feeling known and understood and valued, a little like we used to feel in the food old days in 1914.

Is the customer always right?

Many will argue that today’s experience looks the way it does because consumers have demanded it, and will continue to demand more and more. Is that really true, though? The power consumers have today has definitely changed the relationship between business and customer.

“In the rush to chase convenience, efficiency, and lower costs, many businesses have unknowingly and gradually broken the bond of trust that existed between them and their customers.”

But some businesses have adapted to change better than others. These are the customer experience leaders. They offer all the benefits of today’s experience – choice, convenience, and speedy access at affordable prices – but they have done it without ever losing trust. They have consistently made it their mission to extend the personal, empathetic, emotional flavour of the sopping experience of 1914 to our modern day, connected experience.

Today, business leaders who have taken customers for granted in the past are reconsidering their strategy. Even Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary – infamous for his very public disdain for customers – claims to have had an epiphany, saying:

“If I had known being nicer to our customers was going to work so well I would have done it years ago.

A whole consulting industry has grown up around creating wonderful-looking customer journey maps. New roles are emerging with ‘customer experience’ in their job titles. Ten years ago, the CCO (or chief customer officer) did not exist. Today, increasing numbers of CCOs are appearing on the scene, alongside customer experience directors; heads of customer experience; customer experience transformists; customer experience futurologists; and VPs of customer success.

Now, more than ever, should be a wonderful time to be a customer

So why do I continue to be on the receiving end of inconsistent, uninspiring, and often substandard customer experiences? Why do I encounter more people who have no idea what customer experience is, than those who do?

Because organisational understanding of customer experience as a discipline is still in its fledgling state. Differentiating on customer experience requires you to embed customer in the psyche of your organisation and every individual who works within it. It is a long-term business strategy, not a quick fix. It requires strategic thinking, scientific measurement, and emotional intelligence. It is an organisation-wide collaborative effort, needing committed leadership and hardcore change management.

This is why group like the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), founded by Bruce Temkin and Jeanne Bliss, are so vital to the development of our industry. And why a new professional qualification has been created to recognise our complex and ever-evolving skill set.

At times, being a customer experience professional can be lonely and frustrating. Putting the needs of customers and employees at the forefront of everyone’s thinking requires a bucketload of inspiration, dedication, and perspiration. I have seen and heard it all, and believe me I have developed a very thick skin!

No matter what role you play in your organisation (regardless of whether you have customer experience in your job title or not!) you can drive this change. Never give up. Remind yourself every day that our businesses exist to serve customers, and without them we would not exist.

 


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2min448

We’ve all played games in our lives, starting when we were very young. Those first games helped us learn how to follow rules, how to be respectful, and how to motivate ourselves to learn and to advance—because winning, of course, offered rewards, even if it was only to feel good about our accomplishment.

And without us really knowing it or understanding it (unless we’re involved in marketing), we’ve been taking part in the gamification of customer service basically all our lives. Think about it: You sign up for a rewards card with a store. Then you spend money, based on the feel-good nature of getting “points,” which leads you to deals, which makes you feel better about your purchase. It’s the extension of those games we learned as toddlers, only this time there’s actual money and goods changing hands. So how can you up your gamification of customer service? This graphic explains it.

Source: Salesforce


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3min680

Women in the UK are feeling increasingly let down by online shopping experiences which are hard to navigate, not intuitive enough, and poorly designed for mobile browsing, according to a new study.

The 21st Century Woman study, published by communications network Engine, explores the “mindset of the modern independent woman” and investigates how brands can better connect with her.

Researchers interviewed UK women about how they live and shop, and what they want from their shopping experiences. The study revealed that despite women having more disposable income than ever before, they are increasingly time-poor, with 44 percent of respondents confessing that they find being a woman difficult and 37 percent saying that the best word to describe them is “stressed”.

As a result, women are relying on mobile devices to access brands and services, with 98 percent having shopped online this week and 92 percent using a smartphone to browse. However, the stark reality is that many are left disappointed by the digital shopping experience.

Fifty-eight percent say that too many websites have poor navigation; 53 percent want them to be more intuitive; and 44 percent say mobile sites don’t do enough. The result is that while 88 percent of women visit brands’ websites at least once a day, only five percent of them are buying something.

The study highlights a huge missed opportunity by brands to engage this highly influential market, as brands are failing to connect with women emotionally and commercially.

The research also highlighted that brands should not underestimate the value women continue to place on the instore experience. Fifty-four percent of respondents are influenced by what they see in shops; 26 percent use their phone to research items in store; and 13 percent use their phone to purchase while in store, indicating that brands would benefit from joining up the instore and online experiences.

Erminia Blackden, Head of Strategy at Partners Andrews Aldridge, Engine UK, said:

“This year’s 21st Century Woman study provides valuable new insight into the mindset and lifestyles of independent, modern women – the world’s largest single group of consumers. This group is the most well-educated, employed and commercially influential group in history.

These women are spending and browsing more on their smartphones than ever before, so if brands want to capitalise on their enormous spending potential, getting the online experience right should be a prerequisite. Some brands are winning at this already – the likes of ASOS and Amazon, for example. But the stark reality is that many are still failing to hit the right note. And in this challenging and fiercely competitive retail market, that’s a dangerous position to be in.”


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamApril 24, 2018
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5min712

Customers in the UK will switch brands if they do not receive regular updates on the status of delivered goods, it has been warned.

According to a global survey, 78 percent of consumers want to receive updates on the status of their orders when purchasing goods, and they won’t hesitate to switch brands if supply chain performance fails to meet their expectations.

The survey, conducted in February by YouGov and sponsored by Infor, a leading provider of industry-specific cloud applications, polled 6,285 consumers, including a nationally representative sample of consumers in France (1,016), Germany (2,105), the UK (2,035) and the United States (1,129).

Seventy-eight percent of consumers surveyed expect to receive updates on the status of their orders. Of that group, nearly half (49 percent) of consumers said Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) information – and a further 29 percent saying real-time location information – is most important to know when waiting for a purchase to be delivered at home or to a pick-up location.

The survey showed that consumers will switch brands if supply chain performance doesn’t keep pace with their expectations. According to the survey, it can suggest that consumers are more likely to switch brands related to their day-to-day needs, including groceries (59 percent), household products (53 percent), fashion/footwear (40 percent), and health & beauty products (37 percent). However, even in product categories such as high-tech (35 percent), furniture (32 percent), and automotive (19 percent), consumers indicated that they would switch brands if supply chain performance faltered.

Infor had sponsored a similar YouGov survey in 2016, and Greg Kefer, Vice President of Marketing for the Infor GT Nexus Commerce Network, said:

In 2016, we asked similar questions and at that time, among millennials (18-34), fashion was rated number one. Now, we are seeing categories such as food and beverage and consumer products rank ahead of fashion, with high-tech not far behind. This is an indication that consumer expectations are on the rise across product categories.

In our business, supply chain visibility is frequently cited as a foundational element of innovation and transformation. Companies must be able to ‘see’ across the vastness of their global supply chains, so they can identify gaps and make improvements.”

However, GEODIS recently surveyed 623 supply chain executives and found that only six percent of companies believe they’ve achieved full supply chain visibility. In working with customers, Infor has found that for consumers, next-day or even same-day delivery of goods is becoming the expectation, versus the exception.

And, as the YouGov survey suggests, this expectation goes beyond e-commerce/retail into other industries.

Consumers can now get very granular information about product status and location, and they increasingly are associating supply chain performance with brand preference,” Mr Kefer added.

In fact, the YouGov survey revealed that nearly half (48 percent) of consumers said they know what the “supply chain” is. Awareness of the supply chain was particularly high in the UK (77 percent) and the United States (58 percent) – markets typically characterised by retail/service-centric economies.

Ultimately, companies that sell to other businesses also must face the reality that their customers also are consumers, who see first-hand supply chain innovation (or lack thereof) when shopping online or on their mobile devices.

Consumers now expect a supply chain visibility solution as part of the brand experience.


Paddy WhitewayPaddy WhitewayApril 24, 2018
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6min1102

The successful rise of tech-first companies such as Amazon and Uber have taken service delivery and Customer Experience to new levels.

This has bought into stark focus the quality of service provided by longer-established companies. Customers now expect the same high level of service from every company they deal with and many are struggling to achieve it.

Companies try to improve, but miss the fundamental point that providing great Customer Experience isn’t about an ‘add-on’ function – it requires the company to organise its entire structure around it.

In other words, behind every great service is a great organisation; the quality of the Customer Experience is indivisible from the ecosystem within the business that provides it.

Not understanding and acting on this inherent duality is why companies fall short.

Services are social systems, designed by people for others to deliver and use, so it’s important to not only have the right skills to design services and experiences, but also the capability to support people across the organisation to develop the Customer Experience function and shape a customer-centred company culture.

The practice of service design makes this possible and involves four fundamental steps.

1. Designing the experience

Without a clear vision, an understanding of your customers and a definition of the future experience, there is no defined target for the service and value it should provide. Contributing teams and front-line colleagues need to understand why, and in what, they are investing their time and energy for them to be motivated and committed.

To help succeed you need to:

• Conduct qualitative design research and draw inspiration from leaders in related worlds
• Develop the vision, principles, and strategy that will underpin the success of the target experience
• Imagine and detail new solutions and design omnichannel journeys to meet the needs of different customer personas
• Define the value case to reassure decision makers of the rationale for investment and change

2. Defining the enablers

In order to understand what’s needed to deliver the target experience and the associated changes, the new service ecosystem of enablers, requirements, roles, and partnerships needs to be defined. In turn, this informs the operational design and implementation roadmaps with which to mobilise and engage delivery teams.

In this stage you need to:

• Identify the enablers needed to achieve the stated outcomes for the customer and business
• Design the service ecosystem and determine how each component will relate to each other
• Co-create the operational design and the defined roles required to deliver the new services
• Plot experience roadmaps to focus energy and sequence the projects that drive the step change

3. Scaling the CX function

Establishing a new Customer Experience or service design function within a business requires a level of support, integration, engagement, and tools that organisations may not be familiar with. This requires C-Suite backing and a dedicated team with the right blend of skills and design-thinking.

These teams are no longer in place just to complete service development cycles, or to give implementation of the seal of approval. Their role is integral to inspiring and supporting the organisation to invest in services and deliver them well.

The activities that help you succeed here are:

• Running Customer Experience training to engage teams in the design process and tools used
• Supporting the integration and reach of CX teams and helping them engage others in their role in the Customer Experience
• Engaging stakeholders in co-developing the change plans, roles, and responsibilities to realise delivery
• Creating the right structure and governance to support and empower CX teams

4. Shaping the company culture

For the team to function, the experience to be backed and the enablers to be delivered, you need a compatible, supportive, and on-side environment. Aside from the direct Customer Experience function, everybody needs to see the value and understand their role in delivering the experience.

If organisations can create a customer-centred culture, the experience and new ways of working will get traction and become established faster. A great starting point is assessing to what extent you are customer-centric today and to what extent you need to be in the future.

In this stage you need to:

• Assess Customer Experience maturity across the business and identify areas of focus
• Run leadership team and frontline colleague training in new ways of working
• Involve colleagues in service design projects to demonstrate the value of a more collaborative approach


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 22, 2018
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4min615

UK Customer Experience Awards sponsors Confirmit are helping to deliver a revolutionary patient-centric approach to healthcare as part of an exciting new collaboration.

Voice of the Customer experts Confirmit are working with specialist healthcare consultancy 7i Group Ltd to harness their Market Research and pharmaceutical sector knowledge and expertise to enable an enhanced approach to drug development and the evolution and delivery of medicines, devices, and treatment protocols.

7i will use Confirmit’s text analytics solution, Confirmit Genius, to listen to what patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) are saying publicly about treatments, collating, analysing, and interpreting unstructured data from sources such as patient forums and blogs to identify themes and sentiments. This data is gathered in strict accordance with GDPR regulations (including informed consent) and Market Research codes of conduct, and is then combined with proactively generated structured feedback from surveys, SMS, voting apps, and other data sources in Confirmit Horizons.

This will allow 7i to present pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies, and healthcare providers, with deeper insights into the attitudes and beliefs of patients and HCPs via Confirmit’s real-time dashboard, Reportal.

Andrew Sellick, Managing Director at 7i Group said:

“Publicly sharing thoughts, opinions and experiences online is increasingly part of everyday life. It is often the environment in which patients and HCPs are most likely to express their views on a medicine or device in a ‘real world’ setting. It is logical, therefore, to harness this publicly available evidence to get a better understanding of the true patient experience. There is also a great opportunity to gather opinions from HCPs and to share this insight with healthcare companies and healthcare providers, enabling them to improve treatment protocols, medicines and medical devices.

“We believe that the combination of Confirmit’s leading-edge technology with our expertise in healthcare will enable the development of a new, innovative approach to generating ‘in-the-moment’ insight from patients and HCPs alike. Continuous online listening, combined with the more traditional Market Research approach, will provide valuable insights which will ultimately contribute to improved patient outcomes. It is this drive to enhance the lives of patients that is at the heart of the collaboration between Confirmit and 7i Group.”

Commenting on the collaboration, Tim Hannington, EVP at Confirmit added:

“We look forward to working with 7i in providing the pharmaceutical industry with the holistic view it requires to put the patient at the heart of improving existing medicines and future drug development. We are confident that Confirmit Genius will provide the sentiment analysis capabilities 7i requires at scale and that Confirmit Horizons will support 7i’s expansion into new territories as it enters new markets.”


Debra MaxwellDebra MaxwellApril 22, 2018
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6min827

Aligning consumer expectations of what constitutes good customer service with what is realistically deliverable has always been a delicate balancing act.

But new research, carried out by Arvato in the USA, suggests that the gulf between the two may be larger than any business should be comfortable with.

In a survey of 250 consumers and 250 customer service business leaders, 84 percent of firms believed that they consistently provided an excellent service. In stark contrast, few customers felt the same, with just nine percent saying they always received excellence. Given the consensus around how critical customer service is to the success of a brand, it’s surprising that so many businesses do not seem to be aligned with their customers’ needs and wants.

The research findings also highlight some of the main pain points for customers when contacting customer service. Over a third of those surveyed (34 percent) cited long waiting times as their biggest complaint, while 31 percent identified having to repeat information to customer service representatives as their principal bugbear.

The answer to addressing this disconnect lies in making improvements to how feedback is collated and analysed, and taking advantage of advances in automation and artificial intelligence (AI), to ensure customer service teams are better resourced.

It’s unsurprising that with long waiting times a persistent customer complaint, chatbots have emerged as a popular way to alleviate the burden created by high volumes of customer contact. According to global tech business Oracle, 80 percent of brands expect to use chatbots by 2020. By redirecting simpler enquires away from customer service representatives, contact centre teams will be able to handle more enquiries in a shorter space of time, and free up employees to focus on more complex enquiries.

However, brands need to bear in mind that chatbots are not popular with all customers. Our research found that 49 percent of the consumers we surveyed did not want to be served by a chatbot at all, while over half (52 percent) said the phone remained the most reliable channel for solving a customer service issue.

Clearly, as brands transition towards using more automation technology, they must keep people at the heart of customer service delivery. That requires maintaining a focus on the process of delivering customer service, rather than just the outcome – and for that, people matter just as much as technology.

While the large majority of chatbots currently used across the customer service spectrum are limited to processing simple tasks, the landscape is shifting. By integrating them with AI, virtual assistants will be able to understand complex speech patterns, recognising user intentions from the tone of their language and sentiment in their voice. This will enable the chatbot to learn more about a consumer during a conversation and provide a completely new level of quality and efficiency in customer dialogue.

In the automotive sector, these virtual assistants will become key to the in-car experience, with drivers using them for everything from booking travel accommodation and sending emails, to organising their calendar through voice-activation. Being able to have a natural conversation with the car interface and complete a wide range of tasks effortlessly will be a hugely valuable feature in the years ahead.

Automation will also help customer service representatives to tailor their conversations to customers’ individual circumstances more easily. For example, by providing agents with an AI-backed CRM system, they can be given access to a live dashboard of customer information and recommended actions in real time. Such systems, powered by cognitive technology, have the capability to collate and draw on big data from multiple, disjointed systems and build it into the everyday interactions customer service teams have with customers. This can give representatives a comprehensive view of customer’s preferences, habits, and previous contact history.

The software can then harness this information to develop tailored strategies for representatives to use while they’re speaking to a customer. This can minimise average handling times and reduce the likelihood that customers will need to repeat themselves, which as our research identified is guaranteed to turn them off.

New technology will be effective in tackling some of the longstanding complaints consumers have about the customer service sector. But businesses need to focus on how they are delivering a positive Customer Experience to make the process convenient, personalised, and seamless and to this end, the human touch will always be a critical factor.




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