Customer experience is a growing priority for organisations, says Paula Sartini, founder and CEO of BrandQuantum. She says that customer experience is becoming the most critical factor for customers when selecting a brand over others.
Companies need to implement measures to meet customer expectations and deliver consistent customer experiences at every touchpoint. However, this can seem like a monumental task — particularly for organisations that work as silos, assigning specific responsibilities to specific departments.
In today's environment where the customer is king and should be central to every business decision, customer experience can no longer lie on the shoulders of a single department. It needs to be the top strategic measurement for the entire organisation.
To be successful today, companies need to develop a customer-centric strategy that is built from the customer's perspective and designed to meet their specific needs. Companies are adopting technology solutions that aim to delight their tech-savvy customers and enhance customer experiences.
While companies may be keen to adopt technology solutions, often knowing which solutions to select can be a challenge on its own. In addition, legacy systems can also hamper companies from implementing technologies that could potentially be key in improving customer experiences.
Companies should start by putting the 'I' before the 'A'. This means implementing information automation, which utilises intelligent automation. Once this is in place, only then implement AI.
AUTOMATING FUNCTIONS AND HUMANISING INTERACTIONS
Some technologies can sound like the silver bullet that your organisation needs to improve customer experiences and drive company success, but companies should not adopt technology for the sake of technology.
Rather, solutions should be used to enhance the customer experience and assist employees to meet customer needs. Even though customers are tech-savvy and accustomed to using technology solutions to meet their specific needs, technology cannot replace the human touch.
Automation can enhance customer experiences by improving self-help functions that require limited involvement from employees. At the same time, by automating tasks that take time and resources but add little value to the client, employees are freed up and empowered to focus on high-quality, lasting customer engagements that delight the customer.
For example, if a customer is looking for a statement, rather than placing the customer in a queue to speak to an employee, the customer is able to help themselves to access the information they need.
However, if the customer has a query on the statement, it would be more appropriate to have an employee handle the sensitive issue and spend more time meeting the customer's needs and making a difference where it matters the most.
MAKING MAGIC WITH DATA AND AUTOMATION
Automating repetitive tasks can have a significant impact on improving customer experiences. Automation removes repetitive tasks and empowers employees to give customers the personal touch they seek in specific instances. In addition, it can reduce costs and help drive sales and growth.
These benefits alone present a good case for companies to adopt automation technology. Companies would benefit even more so from it if they used data to firstly determine what tasks should be automated and then understand how customer data can be used to enhance experiences.
At the crux, automating repetitive tasks has a significant impact on driving employee satisfaction, which directly impacts on customer engagements. Customer data should be used to add personalisation into your customer engagements.
By understanding your customer behaviour, you are able to target them with offers and deals that are specific to their previous behaviour. You are able to engage them when it matters most and enhance the customer experience beyond the standardised content companies have traditionally relied on to reach out to their customers.
The Dimension Data 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report says that "by transforming big data into customer and market intelligence, [companies will] be able to align their analytics strategy with their business strategy. [They will be able to] design personalised experiences that proactively address customers' needs — using self-service and automation at the right time in the customer journey."
IGNITING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES
Although technology is able to increase productivity and drive cost-saving, customer experience is about more than the technologies that companies implement. Customer experience is about creating a customer-centric business where the customer is at the centre of everything the business does.
So while there is a benefit in giving customers the tools they need to access self-help services at their convenience, employees need to be given the tools that empower them to deliver high-touch customer experiences at critical times.
To ignite customer experiences, the customer needs to be at the top of the agenda in all boardroom discussions. Additionally, solutions need to be developed and tailored with the customer in mind.
Only when the customer is central to the business strategy and employees across the organisation are equipped with the right tools to meet customer expectations, the company be able to create meaningful customer interactions and enhance the customer experience that drives business success.