Today’s businesses operate in an overwhelmingly digital world, and every customer interaction, whether over the phone or online, generates data.

This data can then be added to all the other information a business has gathered from their customers through their recent purchases, sign-,ups and even their delivery preferences to build a detailed picture of who they are.

The majority of today’s consumers are digitally fluent, well informed, aware of their rights, and know what they want. Not only do they prefer to interact through multiple channels, they know that businesses collect their data, and in return they demand the best experience in every unique engagement. In short, they have higher expectations for customer service than ever before.

For businesses that know how to use customer data, the rewards are huge. Some retailers use customers’ data to deliver a personalised shopping experience, offering tailored offers based on the customer’s past behaviours and habits. This superior customer experience can help build a loyal customer base – a rarity in today’s competitive retail industry.

With so much customer data at their fingertips, there is no excuse for brands not delivering a high standard of customer service. Yet still, some businesses are still falling short. So how can they get it right?

Using – not just owning – data

It isn’t enough for businesses to just collect data, they need to know how to use it. To do this, businesses should tap into data analytics tools that can slice and sort the data to provide insights and spot patterns, which can be fed into Customer Experience strategies.

For long-standing institutions burdened with legacy technology, data analytics can be a real challenge. Acquiring up-to-the minute technology can require huge capital investment which can be an insurmountable barrier to tackling the data problem. One option for these businesses is to enter into partnerships with third party specialists. This gives them access to the technology that is required and, more importantly, the know-how to make the most of it.

Solving the multi-channel solution

Multiple communications channels are great Customer Experience tools, but they bring with them problems of their own. If not deployed effectively, multiple channels or breaks in their journey can mean that customers find themselves being bounced between channels, with little continuity in their customer journey. This inevitably leads to frustration as consumers are made to repeat the same information over and over again with no resolution in sight.

Data analytics can help businesses improve the use of these channels by using data to build an accurate picture of the customer and an understanding of how they prefer to interact with you, based on the situation they are in. This gives these businesses the ability to deliver personalised customer experiences by using insights based on past behaviours, demographic, reason for contact, and crucially, identify which channel is best suited to the situation.

Man vs machine

The future may be digital, but that’s not to say that human connection is dead. While there’s no escaping the fact that technology is going to have a transformative impact on customer interaction, technology should be used to enhance and support human activity, not to replace it.

Rather than replacing human customer agents with robots, technology should be used to free up human time for more valuable customer exchanges, and automation deployed to speed up processes and extract insight from data, enabling companies to provide customers with a better experience overall.

Some predict that in the future 80 percent of queries could be dealt with by automated channels, therefore leaving skilled customer agents to deal with the remaining 20 percent in ways that can make a real difference to the customer.

Positive Customer Experience is underpinned by competence, convenience, and connection. The majority of businesses provide a competent and convenient service but fall down when it comes connecting to their customers. Automation, no matter how smart, sometimes is not enough. When dealing with a contentious issue that needs fixing in real time, a professional and empathetic customer service agent is much more likely to develop a connection with the customer and deliver a satisfactory outcome than a robot.

Businesses that fail to include the option of human interaction in their customer channels will inevitably be met with customer dissatisfaction – and sometimes there is no substitute to a human voice on the end of the phone line.

Failure to enhance customer interactions through the smart use of data carries heavy repercussions. These businesses will find themselves left behind as consumers move to their more digitally literate competitors. Customer loyalty can no longer be taken for granted.

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