This blog recaps content from our recent webinar co-hosted by Mike Asebrook and Blake Morgan.
As organizations have started to rapidly deploy digital channels in their contact center, the gap between customer expectations and experience is widening. In our recent webinar, Blake Morgan and Mike Asebrook provide background on how this gap has widened and some of the solutions to help eliminate it. Blake, a customer experience futurist and author of “More is More,” also shares her thoughts on the massive digital shift from omni-channel customer service to AI-enabled customer engagement, and gives us a three predictions on what to expect from the digital customer experience of the future.
Customers demand an outstanding experience, regardless of how they contact you
Customer service is in the middle of a massive shift – from traditional telephone-based call center services to a more proactive customer experience that is tailored and enabled by analytics, AI, and customer behavior, and delivered through a range of digital technologies and social communities. The demand is certainly there for this service approach – as more than 80 percent of interactions are made through a digital channel. Customers want to control how and when they contact your organization, and expect immediate and responsive engagement on the channel of their choice.
But there’s a gap between the service customers expect and what organizations are delivering. One main reason is the disconnect between digital channels, which are typically implemented in their own code by separate teams. The result is separate containers for each channel’s logic and data, disconnected information, and an inability for organizations to provide a real-time holistic view of a customer’s interaction across channels. This limits or eliminates personalized, next-best-action engagement – and the impact to your customers can be critical. Statistics show that more than 90 percent of consumers have had one or more deal-breaker experiences within a call center. It’s paramount to provide consistent, personalized service before you lose your customer completely.
To provide a customer-centric experience you need a system of insight
A key component of a digital, customer-centric approach is seamless engagement across channels, and this channel-less experience is where the industry is headed. Customers don’t care how many channels you have, they just want it to be easy to reach you, be heard, and be understood. To do this, you need a system that can orchestrate all of that data from your channels, then apply AI, adaptive analytics, and automated guidance into how to best personalize the experience for a customer.
Blake offers some key insights on this customer-centric approach:
Key Insight #1: The difference between customer service and customer experience
It’s a misconception that customer service is the same as customer experience. Our experience with a brand as a customer is shaped before a person even swipes a credit card or has to deal with a contact center. Six different and distinct elements shape customer experience: Product design, company culture, technology used to modernize the customer and employee experience, embracing innovation, rewarding responsibility, and accountability… which is much different than customer service.
Key Insight #2: You need a solid digital customer experience strategy
A company may have a solid customer experience strategy and provide a great in-store experience. However, to engage customers once they leave the store, companies need to have a solid digital customer experience strategy. What may have been a successful approach in the past may not work for you in the future. And brands need to take mobile and digital seriously. If you don’t have a really smart digital strategy that considers what the customer is doing or how you can use technology to make their lives easier and better, you are in for a rude awakening… If you aren’t on your toes always looking at the horizon of what’s happening, unfortunately, you risk going out of business.
Key Insight #3: To get it right, you need a blend of online and offline engagement
Successful companies are taking community engagement seriously and building thriving online communities – creating a marriage between the online and offline customer experience. One example is the cosmetics retailer Sephora, which uses augmented reality as part of their online experience, technology to capture the unique needs of each shopper in store, and personalized follow-up offers via email and other customer channels.
Key Insight #4: What the digital customer experience will look like in five years
- On-demand everything: Companies are racing to deliver products and services as fast as possible. If they succeed in being fast, they’re looking to get faster. And customers are responding. Look for large retailers like Amazon and Walmart to buy logistics companies to deliver products faster.
- Traditional advertising as we know it today will go away. Our children and grandchildren may not even know what advertising is – think no more watching ads during TV shows.
- The complete annihilation of the offline customer experience. Organizations will look more towards concept stores that promote a lifestyle as well as sell product. Verizon Wireless is already doing this in San Francisco. The store is more like a coffee shop or art gallery, and includes a virtual reality headsets that immerse customers in a 360 tour of San Francisco’s landmark sites. This new approach emphasizes the services around the products, not just the products themselves.
The main takeaway – think about the customer front and center
For today’s customers, simply knowing what to do won’t cut it. You need to be able to deliver immediately, on any channel. When you have a shared, AI-powered system in place to capture the full context of each customer interaction, you can better help them at their moment of need and engage at a deeper level. That’s what a customer-centric experience is all about.