In a session hosted by Capita, CX leaders across multiple sectors recently met at CX Exchange for a think tank session. Here, they shared challenges and ideas about ‘building resilience and growth in challenging times’.
CX Exchange explored three crucial aspects of CX in today’s climate: doing more with less; adopting agile models that can drive change; and harnessing the insights that make a difference.
Ahead of the session, delegates shared their key challenges. Their top five priorities turned out to be:
While loyalty remains the core ambition for brands, customers are understandably different. Their lifestyles have been disrupted, and many are feeling poorer, less resilient and more anxious. Back when the pandemic hit, digital alternatives took off as necessitates. For the most part, these digital methods have remained in place. Yet, the desire to engage with another human being never went away. This is a behaviour now being intensified again as we move through the cost-of-living crisis.
If organisations are to understand their customers and be able to provide them with that meaningful engagement, it’s crucial that they can relate those customers’ experiences to those of their own colleagues. They themselves are often vulnerable and feeling the increasing pressure of reassuring customers who have ever-more complex needs. Brands need to keep their staff supported, resilient, and motivated to better serve customers’ needs.
Customer service is all about people. Frontline teams are finding themselves under greater pressure – both from customers with greater expectations for informed, empathetic engagement, and from line management, who are now being instructed to get more performance from less resources. Therefore, ensuring the availability and resilience of employees is an absolutely core experience management challenge.
Key to improved CX is understanding customers’ needs and better serving these. This can be achieved by better managing, interpreting and acting upon data-driven insight.
For instance, it is one thing to view vulnerability as just a set of behaviours that need adding to a segmentation framework. But organisations must go further and immerse in the reality of other people’s lived experiences and how these impact their ability to interact, make decisions and feel supported.
This is the core competency on which to pass the test of meeting the growing and varied needs of vulnerable customers. In other words, how to acquire the goodwill needed to shore up loyalty during the recession to then be able to use it as a springboard for growth once a new economic cycle kicks in.
A customer’s preferences and choice of communications channel is becoming more dynamic in line with their individual circumstances. We need to offer a true omnichannel experience – one that blends human and digital tailored to specific customer needs.
Many service leadership teams will need to review their operating models in search of more cost-effective ways of delivering customer outcomes. Leveraging the latest technology is critical. Done effectively, this enables personalised service at scale within the parameters of what the Financial Service Authority describes as an organisation’s ‘duty of care’. This is a standard every organisation should aspire to – regulated or not.
To build customer trust and confidence, brands need to demonstrate how they are supporting customers with empathy and authenticity.
Moving from cognitive to emotive understanding is what’s needed to become sensitised to people’s needs and what is expected in a brand’s response. Therefore, it is worth investing time and energy nurturing a collective, empathetic mindset. This becomes the foundation context for how organisations must adapt their experience management plans to suit tougher times.
Many customers still struggle with digital confidence, fear and exclusion. Organisations need to ensure that their services are accessible to all and that they equip their people with the right skills for digital inclusion.
Customer service and contact centres particularly face crucial decisions going forward. Although the technology sector has been the most visible so far in terms of budget cuts and headcount reduction, the economic slowdown is a more broadly shared pain.
The next steps
It’s clear that while some leaders are making progress. However, during the think tank, there was consensus that they still face many ongoing challenges. It became apparent that fixing customer journeys and experiences is the priority for most.
As we navigate our way through a period of all-time high inflation and possible recession, increasing numbers of people will face hardship and vulnerability. The way we manage and respond to our customers’ needs should be adaptive, relevant and, above all, empathetic.
Join the discussion at Capita’s upcoming event – ‘Reality Bites: The Opportunity for Growth’. They will be exploring these issues with an expert panel!