The Digital Customer Experience: Engaging Your Customers on Their Terms

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Today’s consumers are smarter, more resourceful and more in control than ever before. They have greater expectations of the companies they do business with, and those expectations are elevating the service standards for brands. But are organizations rising to meet these expectations? Brands have more data at their fingertips about customers than ever before. And they have customers that live in a digital culture of smart phones, messaging apps, texting, email that they can use— 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Recent Aspect survey data found that if privacy and security was level across all communication options, consumer text and chat usage would increase dramatically: 250% for chat, 367% for text. Which leaves us asking the question, just how effective are brands at using customer and transactional data to change the actual overall customer experience? Top Irritants of Customer Service

Customers don’t think of channels. They think about solving a problem, getting a question answered, finding information – and they like it when this is easy to do and they can use the technology of their choosing to get it done. Which leaves businesses to make sure that they support the various channels the customer wants to use and puts them in control of the overall experience. The tables takes going forward is to provide a path that’s simple and intuitive so that the customer is able to get their request services, on their own terms, with every interaction.

The good news is that businesses have the opportunity today, if they so choose, to re-imagine the customer experience by putting more capability and control in the hands of their customers. Brands now have the ability, and the technology, to design smart, personalized self-service experiences that let customers engage in the means and methods they use to engage with their friends, while at the same time, fitting into their customer’s everyday lives. From all of this comes opportunity – yes, opportunity to re-imagine customer service. And there are three primary reasons why brands should adopt a more personalized customer service platform to ensure business growth and create customer loyalty and longevity and to do so today, they are:

  • Be where your customers are: It’s not just the millennials who are connecting on social media, messaging apps or texting. While millennials are leading the use of these channels, consumers, of other generations, are quick to catch on and demand them as well. If your company isn’t ready to meet this need, there is a risk that customers will look to other alternatives and leave the current relationship without any notice.
  • Improve service while lowering costs: A well-architected self-service solution is fast, friendly and accurate. It’s no longer characterized by rigid menus (think “Press 1 for sales”), but rather conversational with personalized interactions (“What would you like to do today?”). It’s also not limited to voice. In fact, powered by Natural Language Understanding (NLU), text is an ideal channel for self-service. The technology enables rich interactions that reduce customer effort and improve the experience while lowering costs. And according to our recent study, the vast majority (73 percent) of consumers wished there were more ways to solve customer service issues on their own.
  • Enable continuity throughout the experience and maximize the value of your agents: Good self-service frees customer service agents to focus their time on the more complex and value added customer issues. When customers can’t solve a problem on their own, it’s imperative that you hand them over to an agent who has the context and the tools needed to help – they start the interaction with the context and content that lead the customer there and never ask them to repeat information they may have just entered in an IVR, a mobile app or a text interaction. The result is more efficient use of everyone’s time, the customer and the agent. With the benefit of higher agent job satisfaction by eliminating repetitive tasks and improving the customer’s experience.

Moving forward, re-imagining customer the experience provides a platform for transforming the customer experience. And while there was a time when self-service was regarded as the “back up plan,” when nobody was available to help customers we have moved way beyond that. Today, the power has shifted – from companies holding all the information to self-reliant, connected and independent-minded consumers who are ready to bring their version of work-life blend to their life as a consumer. It seems, then that this is the time to embrace self-service and make it a strategic initiative in your company? If not, we might want to ask the question why not and then understand the opportunities that you are missing.

 

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Joe Gagnon, Chief Customer Strategy Officer

Joe Gagnon is Chief Customer Strategy Officer at Aspect. For over 20 years Joe has studied the evolving relationship between companies and consumers and how content and customer interaction affects that relationship. From Penn Foster, to IBM, Exit 41 to E&Y, Joe has helped some of the most well-known companies solve their customer engagement challenges.
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