Mike Hughes, MD of PeopleTECH
One of the biggest changes to impact the customer experience industry over the past decade, has undoubtedly been the change in consumer expectations. Where many consumers were once inert and passive about dealing with and accepting a bad customer experience, they will now not only shout about their bad experience on social media but are also much more willing to take their custom elsewhere.
Consumers are empowered like they have never been before and it is the smart brands that are delivering a customer experience – smart, quick, efficient and in keeping with the customer’s preferences – that encourages loyalty and attracts new customers. But what is the secret to achieving this? It is partly down to having the right people and the right processes in place, but it’s also a question of deploying the best and most effective technologies.
If brands are serious about customer experience, these are the five must-have technologies they should be considering.
Mobile – even for those aged 65+, mobile phone take-up stands at 72%. People use mobile for almost every aspect of their day-to-day life, which means the customer experience delivered by a brand HAS to be all about mobile.
That’s why it is so shocking when you come across websites (all too frequently) that aren’t even properly mobile optimised, with customers unable to locate even simple information about a brand’s services, such as contact details or opening hours – that should be a basic starting point. The savvy brands though, will provide the tools to allow customers to self-serve on mobile, and will also be able to predict the next best action for agents assisting customers via any channel.
Omnichannel – that ability to help customers via whichever channel is the most suitable for them is a powerful tool for any brand. This is omnichannel, which goes much further than multichannel, involving a greater continuity of user experience, the retention of a customer’s context across channels and ultimately the Single Digital Channel (SDC) to address customer requirements effectively.
Omnichannel CEM is reliant on data, and the right tools can give brands (and their customer service agents) unparalleled information relating to that customer and their likely intent. Deploying real-time analytics, this data will allow frontline customer service staff to offer a better service to that customer, resolving issues quicker and offering help at the right time and via the right channel. SDC will even allow access to all media types from an agent’s desktop, with all contact interaction taken by customers waiting in one queue to be addressed by the right agent to suit a particular customer.
Knowledge base – in simple terms a knowledge base is exactly what it sounds like – a central repository for knowledge, i.e. content and information. But the right knowledge base software is much more than that, and enormously important in allowing agents to deliver a good customer experience. It provides agents with access (from a device of their choosing) to the information required for successful customer interaction, reducing resolution time and increasing customer satisfaction and worker efficiency.
Second generation predictive chat – live chat is an increasingly popular way of communicating with a brand, allowing consumers to get issues addressed promptly and multi-task as they do it. But few things are as irritating as unwanted live chat, the kind that gets offered within seconds of you arriving on a website.
Second generation live chat is truly impressive however. The agents have your customer history at hand and will have the context from previous interactions on other channels, meaning interactions can be handled quickly and effectively, win-win for brand and customer. And crucially, consumers will be offered live chat only when they are likely to want it.
IVR – whilst it would be a stretch to describe IVR as innovative new technology, there remains a place for Interactive Voice |Response (IVR) systems in the modern contact centre. Part of the problem with traditional IVR systems is that many were designed and implemented decades ago, before the advent of web, email, mobile and social.
Visual IVR on the other hand, is a great option for simplifying information-heavy tasks or transactions. What can be a cumbersome and arduous experience using traditional IVR, is transformed into a simple and straight-forward scanning of a screen, on a smartphone, tablet or PC. Customers can click and touch their way through a system, without having to listen to each and every option.
Technology can play a significant role in delivering the customer experience demanding by modern consumers. Brands should not be put off by talk of long sales cycles, and with the right provider can overhaul their customer experience in the above areas of technology within 90 days.
MD of PeopleTECH
Mike Hughes is MD of PeopleTECH, the customer management consultancy that advises organisations on how to deliver the right customer experience. Founded in 2002, PeopleTECH combines experience working with some of the world’s biggest companies, with a deep understanding of digital transformation, helping to drive efficiency and profitability by offering a bespoke and agile approach to improving the customer journey.