Using Technology Advances to Wow Customers!

August 17, 2016 0 comments

Contributed by Shanmugam Nagarajan,Co-founder& Chief People Officer, [24]7

It’s a foregone conclusion that organizations need to make ‘Digital’ part of their DNA. Customers have moved online to research, buy, seek customer service and share their experiences. They are well-informed and exactly know what they need. And they expect organizations they work with to anticipate their needs across all digital touch points. Some organizations are starting to understand this shift and have taken steps to address this by building a digital arsenal: self-service options, web chats and social media engagement, in addition to the traditional channels. However, despite these investments, most of the digital channels are so disjointed that the customers are often flustered as they navigate through the maze looking for answers to their simple questions.

Shanmugam Nagarajan

Shanmugam Nagarajan, Co-founder & Chief People Officer, [24]7 Inc

End result? They fall back on the traditional communication channel of toll-free numbers increasing call center costs, vent on social media damaging the brand or abort the buying decisions mid-journey thereby impacting revenues.

Disjointed channels of communication are worse than traditional human-assisted voice channel. As they move from one channel to the other, having to start over the conversations, peeves customers to no end. The experience is so frustrating that the engagement is suboptimal if any.

For ushering in ‘real’ digital transformation of customer engagement– it is just not enough to have digital channels in place. These digital investments need to positively impact revenue goals by helping in retaining current customers and by adding new customers. They should also help meet non-revenue strategic goals such as improved Net Promoter Score [NPS] and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT). Most importantly, organizations need to create the ‘wow’ moments when it matters the most.

How you ask?  First and foremost by predicting the intent of the customer – What is the customer trying to get done when they reach out to companies? And secondly by managing ‘real’ omni channel journeys that are seamless – whichever channel the customer comes through every time, connecting the dots to ensure that the same thread is picked up from where it was left last time, so seamlessly that  he or she does not have to repeat even his or her identity a second time! Today, technologies have the power to facilitate both – combination of the likes ofbig data analytics, machine learning, neural networks, artificial intelligence and natural language understanding, can be used effectively to create a differentiated experience that is intuitive, contextual, personalized, timely, channel appropriate and hence overall very delightful!

Let us consider the travel and hospitality industry where customer experience is critical. Today, the travelers are really sophisticated and their demands are high. Organizations in this domain, which is hyper competitive with thin margins, have their work cut out: create an experience that will increase customer loyalty, increase revenue and decrease the cost of customer service.

Predicting the Intent

The predictive models (based on volumes of customer data and interactions)can help in tracking customers’ journeys across multiple channels to determine their intent. Determining the intent would help organizations be better prepared to serve them. For example, predicting a customer’s intent of booking a ticket to a destination would help the organization reach out to him or her with assistance to close the booking. If the system could predict the indecisions of a potential customer during booking, any available discount could be offered to nudge the customer to close the booking.

Managing Real Omnichannel Journeys

The other important ingredient that can spark customer delight is omni channel journeys that are seamless and intuitive. Data from a range of sources can be used to predict customer intent and maintain context across all channels including digital and voice. Customers can start a task in any channel and have their context carried forward, even from session to session, device to device, or in multi-device situations such as using a PC and a smartphone simultaneously.

Let’s again take the scenario where a customer is trying to book a flight ticket. Routine tasks such as confirmation or seat selection can be routed to self-service and any subsequent tasks can be routed to other channels best suited for the purpose. For example, a customer could start on an IVR[Interactive Voice Response] channel, authenticate there and then have the information about their itinerary sent to their smartphone. If they do need further assistance, chat channel can connect them to an agent best equipped to resolve their issues. Agents could be armed with the customer’s information derived from predictive analytics running in the background, enabling them to provide personalized content that ensures high satisfaction.

Customer Experience Reigns Supreme

As the legendary Steve Jobs once said, “You’ve got to start with customer experience and work back towards technology – not the other way around”. Organizations now have advanced technology at their disposal to bring in intent prediction and facilitate seamless Omni channel journeys, to take the ‘customer experience’ to the highest possible levels. The visionaries amongst global organizations who leverage these cutting–edge technologies to their advantage would leave their competition far behind pretty soon.

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