Author: Rebecca Brown
Moving with the times, innovating or keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to customer experience is never easy.
Sometimes it can feel like it’s made even harder by the array of options open to businesses. Being spoilt for choice in an era where decision fatigue is high and the pressure is on to evolve or cease to exist, can leave you more than just confused. It can feel outright overwhelming, especially when it comes to your online presence.
AI has been leading the way when it comes to online innovation, with sophisticated chat-bots that can actually replicate conversation, and automated marketing campaigns that learn from your customer behaviour.
A top ten list of successfully deployed chat-bots was published this week, which talked about a bot that had been programmed to answer questions as Albert Einstein. Suddenly that question of who would you invite to a dinner party, past or present, takes on whole new possibilities…
That said, for every successfully deployed intuitive chat-bot, there are many that haven’t worked so well, leaving customers feeling angry and frustrated at the lack of human assistance. A great example of a bot that’s just missed the mark completely is InspiroBot – a bot that’s sole purpose is to generate inspirational quotes with an image behind it. Whilst I’m sure it’s still getting a fair hit rate based on the occasional blooper is spot on my LinkedIn feed, it’s safe to say that it’s neither appropriate or inspirational when a bot populates the statement ‘There’s no excuse for being Dumb’ as its best effort.
So you might think it’s safest to just do what everyone else is doing? Think again.
Dominos Pizza released an app that enabled the user to order their previously saved pizza by simply opening the app. No swiping, clicking or frantically searching for payment cards that your toddler may or may not have tucked down the back of her mini oven. Just instant, easy ordering. So impressive, that it almost makes you want to try and replicate it doesn’t it? Only here is the issue – it really can’t be applied to the vast majority of brands.
It can be so tempting to look at what other businesses are doing (or what your competitors are doing) when considering how to move your business into the next generation, but even that isn’t guaranteed to work.
Your competition may have different brand values, a different customer base or different systems that they plug into. There can be no one size fits all approach to maximising the potential of your website whether it’s one page detailing your services or a complex web estate.
So, what are your best options?
Call in the experts
As a CX practitioner, I would never try to pass as a surgeon. I wouldn’t be very good and I’m incredibly squeamish. So why try to perform the functions of a web designer or user experience expert? Leaving the innovation to UX professionals who’ve trained, who keep up to date with the latest technologies and can do the relevant customer research required to build an effective solution is by far the best way. If you can’t afford to hire someone permanently then there are some great contractors or agencies out there, doing really exciting things!
Don’t try to be like everyone else
Speak to your customers, find out their frustrations with your online presence and fix what irritates them the most. Your customer’s frustrations will be unique to their experience with you, so implementing a solution that worked for others will leave you just as likely to fail as succeed if you haven’t done the relevant research.
Don’t assume that innovation has to mean gadgets and AI
Sometimes the most innovative thing you can do is listen – actually, properly listen – to your customers. As long as you have sufficient technology in place for your customers to contact you when they want, this innovation comes from changing the way your business and its people think, feel and behave – not from buying the latest Content Management System or implanting speech analytics.
If you listen to what your customers have to say, make it as easy as possible for them to say it and then take positive action to not only respond, but to learn as an organisation so that your next customer doesn’t have the same problem, then that’s more innovation than a lot of businesses… Get the basics right, and you’ll see customer loyalty soar. Then if you want to dabble a little with AI – why not?
Bring your customers on the journey with you
Change can be scary. As a society we’ve just undergone a monumental change to the way we live our lives without prior warning, without getting a say and at a whiplash-inducing pace. To a lesser extent, customers feel the same effect when one of their suppliers changes.
To offset this, we need to ensure that any period of reflection and subsequent change is communicated loud and clear to our customers, well ahead of anything actually happening – ideally with a consultative approach. If you believe in making your business the best it can be, and having that reflect in your online offering, then you probably want to make it clear that in your eyes the work will never be ‘finished’.
Continuous improvement is what customer experience is all about, so position that carefully with your customers. State it on your website, in your surveys, on your calls – something as simple as ‘We care about the journey our customers have, so we are committed to consistent improvement across all our services. We might ask you some questions from time to time to help us make sure we get it right, and you may see some changes along the way.’ This is enough to cover most bases, whilst reassuring your customer that they are – and always be – at the heart of everything you do.