As businesses continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of their customers, it’s more important than ever to prioritize the excellent customer experience. Unfortunately, many companies still rely on traditional, reactive approaches to customer service that do little to create value or build trust. The ideal customer experience is one that is frictionless. While having service teams fix exceptional issues that may occasionally occur over the course of a relationship with a customer is key to an overall excellent customer experience, many service teams handle regularly recurring customer issues. These are not occasional challenges; they are common points of friction. This leads to frustration and disappointment for customers and damages the reputation of the business.
However, by adopting an innovation-led, digital-first customer experience model, businesses can not only improve their service and build trust, but also delight their customers. And this creates a more rewarding work environment for the frontline experts who handle these customer inquiries daily. Here is how an innovation-led, digital-first customer experience model brings back trust and delights customers:
- Proactive value creation: This may involve identifying potential issues and addressing them before they arise, or providing personalized recommendations and solutions based on customer data and preferences. By proactively eliminating friction businesses can delight their customers with less service. This creates capacity within the work environment to create moments of value for customers, leading to increased trust. Imagine the nirvana of eliminating the need for problem resolution and replacing it with value creation.
- Streamlined processes: By incorporating leading technology and streamlining processes, businesses can provide a higher level of service while also reducing the time and resources needed to resolve customer issues. This can lead to greater efficiency and convenience for customers and can help to show customers how easy it is to conduct business with a particular brand. Ease is correlated to customer’s time, so the less time consuming a process is the easier a customer will perceive that interaction.
- Personalized interactions: An innovation-led, digital-first customer experience model should also be focused on providing personalized interactions to customers. This may involve using digital tools to provide personalized assistance or using customer data and preferences to tailor recommendations and solutions. In today’s world, customers do not want to be asked why they want to interact with a brand as companies are expected to have enough data to be able to anticipate the reason for the interaction. The experience should be tailored on that basis. This is already the level of personalization digital-native companies offer.
- Omni-channel support: It is important to ensure that your customer interaction model can support multiple channels and provide a seamless experience for customers no matter how they interact with your business. By providing multi-channel support, businesses can be present in the channel a customer prefers to interact, but it is only with an omni-channel capability where customer may shift channels seamlessly without losing the history and context of prior interactions do we drive customer experience to its optimal level. The goal is to make it easier for customers to get the help they need quickly.
- Digital-first journeys: Many older companies suffer from legacy systems and legacy customer interaction constructs. For example, the premise that most customers prefer to call to speak with a business is now rapidly changing to a preference for more digital-first interactions. In fact, customers will start their journey on a website or mobile app and attempt to solve their own issue without the need for a contact center individual to assist. Optimizing These self-service channels are key as this provides the best efficiency for the customer. If customers require further assistance, a messaging channel may be most conducive to the ideal customer experience for non-critical matters. Messaging is preferred in these instances because engaging in this channel can be done at moments of convenience for the customer, and messaging channels retain history indefinitely on customer interactions, so all parties have a detailed account of prior interactions. Voice channels are today constructed with interactive voice response (IVR) menus that assume customers started their journey on a voice channel. Customers must navigate self-service options in the voice menu that frustrates them because the experience treatment is universal and does not give a customer any credit for effort already placed in trying to resolve the issue on their own. Digital-first businesses think about these journeys with a digital first mindset and are not constrained to legacy ways of doing business. They personalize channel experiences with the context of other channels, so they are perceived more positively.
- Continuous improvement: Finally, it is important to continuously review and improve your customer experience ecosystem to ensure that it is meeting the needs of your customers. This involves gathering and analyzing customer feedback from the front-line experts who interact with customers daily. Businesses are dynamic and changing and rapid change can create unintended and unexpected customer process challenges. An agile methodology of gathering those issues, prioritizing them, and project managing actions for resolution are a sign of a healthy customer experience business model. It also engages front-line experts productively and gives them a broader scope of responsibility to view their role as not only resolving a customer inquiry in the moment but reviewing the end-to-end journey for opportunities to simplify.
Here are a few additional points to consider when implementing an innovation-led, digital-first customer experience model:
- Identify customer needs and preferences.
- Choose the right technology and ensure teams understand what the expected experience with the technology should be.
- Train your team on identifying gaps in skill, product, technology, or process issues to institute a system of continuous improvement.
- Integrate technology to create personalized and contextualized experiences. Leverage your team to incorporate this into their continuous improvement rhythms.
- Solve for pebbles, rocks, and boulders. Focus on the minor changes that can have a significant impact as much as the massive changes that can have a significant impact.
- Measure and track progress. Assign actions, owners, and deadlines to key initiatives.
One of the key benefits of this approach is that it allows businesses to be more proactive in creating value for their clients and customers. Rather than simply reacting to and resolving customer friction, an innovation-led, digital-first model allows businesses to anticipate and address potential issues before they arise. Engage the teams closest to the customer to support this task. This not only leads to increased customer satisfaction but also helps to build trust and strengthen relationships with your front-line team of experts, empowering them to be change agents of the solution. To do this:
- Adopt a continuous learning mindset
- Foster collaboration
- Educate on customer experience technologies
- Teach analytical skills
- Measure and recognize success and impact
- Continuously improve
You may not get everything perfect all the time, but your organization must strive for perfection and ensure recurring customer friction is proactively addressed, making way for value creation opportunities with your customers. If you are simply servicing customer friction, you are only reacting to customer pain. Best in class customer experience companies proactively work to eliminate customer pain and seek ways to surprise customers with value. The question is simply which organization are you? Reactive resolver of pain or proactive value creator. The choice is in your hands.