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Data drives customer experience

When brands connect information in the right way, customers feel valued and understood

As someone who started working at ServiceNow during lockdown, I have had the double challenge of adjusting to working entirely from home while taking on a new role at a new company.

It’s been very different from what I’ve been used to. However, what has made the process infinitely easier is the fact that ServiceNow is fully set up as a digital business, with tools in place that allow employees to work from anywhere.

As businesses everywhere focus on ensuring their employees are safe, healthy, and have what they need to work wherever they can, it is the firms that have invested in the right tools and ensured widespread adoption who will find this period the least challenging.

If employees are already well versed in tools such as cloud platforms, collaboration tools, and video calling, for example, it means they won’t face the prospect of a big learning curve in terms of the tools and processes they use to do their jobs.

Our recent survey of global C-suite executives shows that the value of digital technologies goes beyond making life easier for employees.

Building customer experiences on data

The research, conducted by ServiceNow and ESI ThoughtLab, shows that the more companies invest in foundational digital technologies, the more they are able to meet customer experience goals, such as creating more personalised experiences and enhancing loyalty.

When asked which technologies delivered customer experience returns, 86% of the respondents cited cloud-based platforms. This is not surprising, as these platforms can continually evolve and adapt, are feature rich, and can be enhanced by plug-ins and additional features that allow users to do more and achieve better results.

More than two-thirds (69%) of survey respondents said data analytics delivered big customer experience returns. It’s long been accepted that data is instrumental to understanding customer preferences, but this statistic is encouraging evidence that businesses recognise the need to invest in technologies to analyse this information.

Having a wealth of data is one thing. The real value comes from knowing how to make sense of data and what to do with it.

In many business contexts, data can be the ‘eyes’ of the operation. In call centres, for example, many operations have had to shift to a remote working model. As a result, it’s no longer possible to physically monitor work patterns or call volumes. In this case, data analysis becomes the ‘supervisor,’ allowing managers to identify productivity gaps and resource shortages, and act on them accordingly.

The power of integration

The key to any enhanced customer experience is being able to access and join up information in a way that makes a customer feel valued and understood.

For customers, it’s frustrating to have one conversation with a service rep, and then have to explain their situation all over again each time they check in on another channel or platform, because there’s no unified record of their interactions with the business. For example, a phone call on one day may be followed up by a Facebook message the following week, with no continuity.

[Read the Workflow Quarterly Customer Issue]

Over two-thirds (67%) of our survey respondents said they saw returns from integrating social media channels into their customer experience platforms. The value here is in moving across platforms without losing any context or momentum and meeting the customer in the channel of their choice.

Businesses that take the time to compile a single customer profile, where all interactions are captured and brought together, will improve the experience not only for the customer but for the customer experience agent as well.

AI vs. AI

For all the importance of the human connection, there is a definite argument for using the tools we have at our fingertips to exploit the power of automation.

As many as 63% of those surveyed said investing in AI or robotic process automation (RPA) resulted in better customer experiences.

In my view, AI is not the answer for all customer interactions. Identifying and automating customer queries where human interaction does not add value is a great use of AI and greatly enhances the customer experience. However, some interactions require the human touch. In these cases, AI can augment human intelligence but not replace it.

AI is not the answer for all customer interactions.

For example, on our platform, we have a feature called ‘Agent Assist’ that uses data to suggest certain actions or options to an agent, whilst still leaving the ultimate decision up to them.

By combining technology with human intuition, we are able to create the best of both worlds for the customer.

Reimagining Customer Experience

According to our research, businesses that invest in tools and technology to digitise their customer experience systems are seeing significant returns.

Now is the time not only to optimise what you have, but take the leap and reimagine the future, using all the tools at your fingertips to empower the workforce, streamline and accelerate customer workflows, and create the best customer experiences. That’s a win-win for all.