In this guest post, Chris Colley (main photo), principal, customer experience at Medallia, says forget what you’ve heard, there’s a number of ways to customer loyalty other than simply a major digital overhaul…
Advances in technology has allowed organisations to digitise interactions with their customers, making customer journeys simpler and more streamlined, while reducing operational costs. This has led to an acceleration in the investment of digital customer experience strategies.
To create lasting customer loyalty however, an effective balance between digital and human interactions needs to be reached. This is particularly important during a global health pandemic that has resulted in a significant increase in online interactions.
Building a balanced journey
Understanding the moments in the customer journey, when a human touch may be more appropriate, is the key principle when it comes to bridging the physical and digital divide. For this we must take into consideration two factors.
Firstly, which approach will limit the amount of effort required by the customer? For example, routine customer journey events such as resetting passwords or tracking a delivery, can and should be digitised. This reduces the operational input for the business and makes the process quick and easy for the customer. It’s a win for both and one that is quick and meaningful. Many of the most customer-centric organisations recognise the connection between improving the worst experiences and delivering improvements to the bottom-line.
In its push for digitisation, a telco customer wanted to focus on ‘low hanging fruit’. Relatively simple tasks such as making a payment, to checking usage data were moved online. Unsurprisingly, this led to improved customer perception metrics. It also resulted in a significant reduction in calls to its contact centre, with many of the high-volume tasks being managed directly by the customer. In this example, digitising the worst experiences saw callbacks drop by 38 per cent. This, in addition to reducing man hours, meant employees could be assigned to other tasks.
Investing in human interaction
Considering the moments of a customer’s journey where they are either seeking advice or experiencing strong emotions, is the second factor. Investing in human interactions and personalising the service should not be neglected. For example, when a customer buys a car online, there should be a human interaction at the close of the transaction, such as at the point of delivery. This way the company can show they recognise and appreciate the significant investment that has been made, while celebrating this special moment with them.
Perhaps, more importantly, is introducing a human element when something goes wrong. In these moments, the customer needs reassurance. Robotic, automated services do not have a place here. In banking, for example, when a customer misplaces their credit card or is the victim of identity theft, they most likely want to talk to a human and be reassured the company will take on the responsibility of finding a solution. Ensuring customers feel they are being heard can be a significant factor in whether they will stick with you for the long term.
Introducing advanced technology
As the experience management industry continues to advance beyond such blunt instruments as traditional satisfaction surveys, customer-centric technologies are helping humanise digital interactions. Video as a tool has an ability to record customers’ thoughts, sentiment and opinions. Enabling the capture of this authenticity and emotion humanises the process of providing customer feedback in the first place, while also offering a way of amplifying the customer’s voice across the business. CX leaders can use video as part of wider voice-of-customer (VoC) programmes. It provides a means to convey emotive stories that drive change in their customer operations, while enabling actionable insights to be derived.
Access to video technology is ubiquitous and the expansion in remote collaboration encouraged by the global pandemic has helped ensure that being on camera is now quite normal for many. The crisis has also accelerated the rate at which companies are adopting video across the board. As a result, there has never been a better time to leverage video as an integral part of a customer experience strategy, using it to discover what customers want, and acting on this insight to keep them coming back.
Building omnichannel interactions
As customers become more accustomed to using technology such as video in their everyday lives, it can be turned to great advantage – but it also needs to be easy for customers to switch between the digital experience and human processes as and when they feel the need. This is especially true if the customer has already tried to use an automated service, such as a chatbot, and failed.
As a result organisations should move towards designing omnichannel interactions – balancing the speed and efficiency of new technologies with additional ‘human’ channels – in order to provide customers with the flexibility they need for great customer experience.
Coronavirus has shown us just how quickly organisations and customers can pivot when the need arises, but it remains the case that certain customer demographics still prefer human interactions. And it goes without saying that the upcoming generations of digital-native customers have very different expectations to those of their forebears. Forward-thinking organisations should be cognisant of tomorrow’s customers, as well as other groups who would be willing and eager to adopt new channels of communication. Investing in omnichannel interactions is a positive way to ensure your organisation can continue to innovate while continuing to drive customer loyalty.
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