Companies like Amazon are setting the pace for personalized customer experience and proactive problem solving. The difference between the Amazon experience and what customers actually get when they engage with a typical contact center is striking.
Imagine the following scenario: There is a large assembly of your customers in one place. Some of them have questions while others want to buy your product but need more information. Some want competitive product information. Others? They are experiencing a problem, are upset and want you to listen like you mean it. And there’s another group that’s wondering, “What on earth were you thinking when you created these products and services?” They want to be your customers, but in turn, they want you to hear their feedback before they decide to leave or stay.
If a meeting like this were taking place at your company, how would you handle it? Whom would you ask to address the group? The VP of Sales? Products? Marketing? Customer Experience? Or someone in a C-level position – CEO, CMO, COO, CFO? What special messages would you create to address all of their separate, yet related, questions, concerns and issues?
In actuality, you don’t have to imagine the meeting. That meeting happens every single day within the individual interactions between your agents and your customers in the contact center. In fact, that “customer experience” is being delivered right now. While it’s always been true that a successful business must understand their customers and provide them with what they want and need, the ability to do that on a daily basis is getting more and more difficult for small, as well as large companies.
What would most companies like to do? They’d like to create an uncontested marketplace where the competition is irrelevant. To create that “Blue Ocean Strategy,” your company has to deliver its products and services via its employees, especially customer-facing ones, in a differentiated fashion. This idea of customer experience has been written about for years and yet nothing seems to change – at least not until now.
There’s been a major disruption in both customer strategy and tactics around people, process and their scalability. That disruption entails the ability to provide contextual, real-time insights into each and every customer’s purchasing and service needs so that each one gets what they need quickly and accurately. It doesn’t matter what channel the interaction is happening in. When a powerful customer experience management platform is used, companies can deliver smart, dynamic and tailored customer service no matter the size of the company.
This change has been a long time coming. It’s especially important when companies consider the number of channels customers use when interacting with a company. Consumers “channel shifting” – from phone to email to chat to social to SMS – means a company needs to measure the customer satisfaction per channel and across any customer journey, which includes an unlimited combination when you factor in channel pivoting. The only way to really do this at scale is with real-time, contextual routing and proactive customer engagement.
What does this mean to a customer? Consider how you would feel if a call center agent could offer you priority treatment when you call them based on your activities on a company’s website or via web chat? What if that agent had intelligence across all touch points and could sense, by your actions, that you are getting frustrated online? What if the customer data was actionable in real-time? What if the agent could take that data and pick up on your patterns in behavior, place them in the context of your customer journey and offer ways to proactively delight you? What if that included the detection of patterns indicating your positive or negative customer experiences via ultrafast in-memory processing? What if they could offer you live, proactive help at just the right moment? That would be a great experience!
As customer expectations rise due to the plethora of communications channels today, the ability to deliver on these opportunities shifts from a “nice to do” to an “absolutely must do.” It will be imperative for companies to analyze and actually use the massive, valuable nuggets of data about their customers’ experiences in the contact center. Many businesses know this, yet fail to act. When customers disengage with a brand out of frustration, it’s a serious opportunity cost.
On the company side, what if you had this type of transformational technology as an integral part of your customer support software suite? It would significantly reduce customer effort and increase First Contact Resolution (FCR) which improves customer service, enhances experience and increases customer loyalty and lifetime value. That’s why it so important to understand your customers and go beyond just the awareness of their interaction history and past preferences to deliver smarter, better and faster customer engagements.
About Dr. Natalie Petouhoff
Dr. Natalie is a business strategist and a futurist. As vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, she covers digital marketing transformation, next generation customers and data to decisions. She has spent her career looking into how businesses interact with their customers and their employees, and she provides companies with the best way to create environments that foster loyalty, motivation and innovation.
Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.