Regardless of the sector, from retail to automotive to big data, all businesses are up against the same challenge: how do you stay engaged and connected with the customer? How do you build a strong relationship that keeps them coming back for your product or service?
Every customer relationship is outcome-based. The consumer wants to achieve an outcome, whether it’s buying a pair of shoes, hailing a shared ride or downloading software. As a business, your goal is to get the consumer through to that outcome with minimal effort and definitely without creating artificial hurdles. The most essential element of this goal is clear and efficient communication, which can take many forms. Whether that communication is through a website, a mobile app, a customer service agent or a clerk in a retail store, it is integral to providing customers with the tools they need to achieve their desired outcome as seamlessly as possible.
As consumers increasingly demand new communications tools like chat and social media capabilities, it’s becoming critical for companies to expand their methods of communication based on customer preferences. Multi-channel customer experience has been on organizations’ radars for years. But in the age of cloud-based applications, bots and AI, multi-channel customer experience is no longer reserved for advanced organizations – it’s the expected standard. New technologies can help organizations open new modes of communication with their customers and bring valuable context to the customer experience to measurably improve engagement.
Why Poor Customer Communication Happens — and How to Fix It
Customer contact centers, while assuming a very important role in the customer relationship, often get a bad reputation. They are associated with a slew of negative experiences: tell me your mother’s maiden name before you can even speak with a real human. Tell me everything you want to solve but if the call gets disconnected, start over with someone else. Press the right combination of phone keys to get to someone who can actually help you.
This is not always the experience in real life, but the negative reputation remains. Where companies are falling short is in providing the necessary context to their agents to improve first call resolution rates and customer satisfaction.
One challenge is that many tech companies believe that they’ve designed their solution in the best way possible. That assumption leads them to make decisions on behalf of the customer, ideally based on real customer data. The problem here is that every customer is unique. If you make assumptions on individuals based on a vast amount of data, you’re only solving for the lowest common denominator. That doesn’t help a business differentiate. This is where context comes in, and in order to add this context, businesses must look for clues that customers leave throughout various communications channels.
Context Clues: Following Your Customer’s Bread Crumbs
The truth is that by the time most consumers reach a live agent in a contact center, they’ve been through many other methods to try and solve the problem on their own. That’s where the bread crumbs lie.
Who are you? Are you really who you say you are? Why are you calling? These are questions that every business must answer as quickly as possible to establish an efficient and simple customer experience. Consumers leave a lot of clues behind that can help to answer these questions before an agent even answers the phone. Google searches, website activity and mobile app engagement are just some of the bread crumbs that can be used to bring context to better help customers. Perhaps the customer has viewed a specific FAQ that same day or had a previous interaction through a medium like social media or chat. This information is vital and companies need to be paying attention.
Once this context has been collected, the real challenge is pulling it all together and presenting it the moment the agent is having a conversation with the customer. It is businesses’ responsibility to help agents become as productive and efficient as possible using this data.
Bring the Pieces Together to Uplevel Customer Experience
Many new tools exist that leverage artificial intelligence and data analysis to help businesses merge customer clues together and improve communication. By taking advantage of these technologies, businesses have a strong potential to improve the current state of customer experience.
Many tech platforms lack flexibility, which is a new concept in software generating new questions. How can organizations make their software instantly deployable but also flexible? How can you avoid cloud applications that are designed as black boxes that are almost impossible to change? Many of these applications require organizations to change how they operate in order to work with the technology, rather than the other way around. In order to avoid this and bring the customer experience to a new level of efficiency and ease, companies must allow their customers to make their own decisions, particularly about how they communicate with a brand, and take note of those decisions.
By paying attention to customer clues and using new technology, businesses can increase first contact resolution, decrease customer effort and measurably improve customer satisfaction. It’s no longer just an option, it’s now a business imperative.