One Customer Experience Tool That Will Get Significant Attention in 2016

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Sometimes I get the feeling that people believe that everything in the future will happen online and all transactions will be automated without any or with very little human interaction. Success stories with self service solutions such as Taco Bell who recently in an Bloomberg article announced that orders made via their new digital app are 20% pricier than those taken by human cashiers or Chili’s, after installing self-service tablets, reported a similar increase in dessert orders, further influence this perception.

Don’t take me wrong, I work for a company that help companies transform customer journeys with the aid of smart technology, and I know that there are customers who judges good CX based on how much they can avoid interacting with a human. But a service world without physical locations and human interaction? No way.

Drawbacks with automation
According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review technology lacks flexibility. When we’re interacting with a person and we’re having trouble understanding something, the person can adjust to us. If we’re having a misunderstanding, they can help clarify it. Technology really can’t do either of these things. A person has the ability to delight us or disappoint us. It’s really hard for a technology to ever delight, however, because it’s standardized and is built on a set of rules. But it is possible for technologies to disappoint us.



Dennis Campbell, Frances Frei, and Gretchen Gavett have done research looking at self-service technologies, in banks in particular. In one case customers’ overall satisfaction with the bank fell as the proportion of their total interactions shifted away from face-to-face channels and toward using automated solutions. Cambell and Francis also some years ago looked at banks that introduced online banking and found an interesting pattern; customer who switched to the online channel came into the branch more, and they started using the call center more, which was actually more expensive. So the tradeoff wasn’t all a favorable one from an efficiency/cost point of view.

So, automation of service transactions is apparently not always good. But is there something that can bring the best of the two worlds together? Yes, integrated mobile apps for employees in the physical location has the opportunity to change the game.


Bringing smart mobile apps to employees

Mobile WorkforceEmployee expectations are starting to look a lot like consumer expectations as mobile transforms lifestyles and workplaces, and employees start to demand better capabilities to help them work on the go – serving customers not only virtually but also in the physical location. In fact, an Accenture survey indicated that 45% of respondents believed that their personal devices were more useful than tools and apps provided by their company IT.

It’s clear today that customer-obsessed firms empower their workforce with technology. When companies were asked the question “How do you employ mobile in your physical location” in the Global Executive Online Survey by Forrester 34% responded that they provide their employees with mobile devices to serve customers.

If employees have easy mobile access to more relevant, personalized, and intelligent information in the moment, the customer engagement transforms along with it. Mobile and wearables for employees brings a host of advantages:

  • Put customer information to personalize the meeting in the hands of the employees.
  • Increase the customer experience by connecting with customers on their terms.
  • Provides a seamless bridge between the online and physical world.
  • Increase staff utilization and situational awareness.

Delight customers along their journey
Omnichannel means more opportunities for employees, empowering them to become more knowledgeable & helpful for customers. In the case of the British retailer Marks & Spencer this for example means making it easier for them to provide on the spot assistance to customers. M&S have put iPads into some of their bigger stores to help their assisted sellers give a better service – for example they have staff that is focused in their men’s suiting. Here they’ve found iPads of enormous benefit – as part of the overall journey, helping a customer find exactly what they want, tracking down particular sizes or trouser lengths, and then closing the sale.



Equipping your team with workforce mobility tools is like giving them the map and the car. They have everything they need to drive success for the organization and to do it in a way that delights everyone they encounter along the journey.

And isn’t that what we are all striving for?

Image Credit; Qmatic and Shutterstock

6 COMMENTS

  1. I fully agree with the author’s opinion, personally I don’t like to order online, people are social, we need to communicate otherwise there will be chaos

  2. Thank you Larisa for your comment. We are all different which is the beauty of humanity…but which then also puts challenges on service providers – especially these days when we as consumers are empowered with information and choices.

  3. Hi Sven

    The road to personalised customer experiences is not all smooth.

    When, as part of its ‘Know Me’ programme, British Airways provided its cabin crew with iPad’s armed with Google to create personalised customer profiles on flights, many customers complained about the airline’s ‘creepy’ behaviour (http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/05/british-airways-borders-on-creepy-with-know-me-google-identity-check/). The complaints caused British Airways to rethink how much information about customers and their behaviour is reasonable, and when it becomes over-personalised and downright creepy. It is a fine line as British Airways found out to its cost.

    As research by Colin Strong on the relationship between personalisation and brand liking (described in his book on ‘Humanising Big Data’) suggests, increasing personalisation increases brand liking up to a point, after which increasing personalisation’s creepiness rapidly reduces brand liking. This has been described as the ‘uncanny valley of personalisation’ (in reference to Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori’s original discovery of the effect in human-looking robots).

    More personalisation clearly does not always mean more liking by customers.

    Graham Hill
    @grahamhill

  4. Graham, a very valid point indeed. As always it’s about acting permission based.

    What’s quite fascinating though is that the same people complaining about “creepiness” on the airline most likely have no problem signing in on websites using their Facebook account, giving out their credit card to Amazon, posting tweets and photo’s on Instagram tagged with their location….and more.

    I would be able to pick up your tweets Graham if I was close to where you are. Read all your history and approach you as someone who knows you very well. Simple and a bit creepy if you ask me. https://twitter.com/search-advanced?lang=en

    The key in my experience when personalizing in the physical space is to create more subtle advantages for the customers, some examples:

    – We know that you are here…so we guide you to someone who knows most about the stuff you are here for.
    – You opt in to check in with your loyalty card…since you know that you will get VIP treatment
    – We know that you had a complaint with our call center last week…so the staff member can open up the conversation with an emphatic touch.
    – We know how long you waited at our location….so the staff member can apologize when starting to serve.
    – We can’t solve your request right now…so we transfer you with a note to another colleague, seamlessly.

    We found the opposite what British Airways did with one of our Telecom/Wireless clients. The sales reps in the store, when being mobile with support of a mobile device/app….suddenly had customers on their initiative shaking the rep’s hand when being called forward. This surprised us as well as our client. What we managed to do here – most likely (we are still investigating) – was to create a unique, unexpected and personal connection with the staff member.

    So I agree with you – personalization has to be done carefully.

  5. Mobile platforms and applications are indeed on the rise and a lot of businesses have realized that having a mobile app for their product/brand or service can be extremely rewarding. Moreover, integrating mobile support has become crucial, especially when most customers engage with companies using mobile platforms. I’d like to dwell a bit on customer support. Having support built within the app can be more convenient for both the developer and the app users. Both parties can interact without having to leave the app and issues can be resolved quickly. We have recently launched a support desk devContact (www.devcontact.com) that performs these exact functions. The developers and companies that have integrated this solution to their apps have confirmed that they have witnessed a happier and more loyal app user base. Great post!

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