Great customer experiences are increasingly what define great companies. Yet running a successful customer service operation is a complex challenge for any company today—and an ever-more expensive one. Annual corporate spending on customer relationship management (CRM) software is projected to reach $80 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research.
The challenge is made especially difficult when companies are juggling disparate tools and systems to try to deliver consistently great customer experience across multiple channels. Most platforms today, for example, can’t share data efficiently, making it difficult for service agents (or even virtual assistants) to provide great experiences.
In an increasingly digital and on-demand world, customer expectations only keep rising. When companies can’t keep pace with their needs, many customers will abandon them in a heartbeat. In fact, more than half of customers who’ve had a bad service experience will switch to a competitor. Customers are also more likely to share their negative experiences on social media than their good ones.
Customer service platforms today must be engineered to anticipate customers’ needs, not just respond to incidents and complaints at scale. They need to deliver personalized interactions across all channels. Nearly all consumers today say speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service are the key components of great customer experience, according to PwC.
Fewer and fewer customers today will tolerate the typical runaround when they pick up the phone for help, only to spend 10 minutes simply identifying themselves to agents robotically following a script. Customers expect the agent, or anyone else who represents a brand, will already have an understanding of who they are, what their problem is, and how best to resolve the issue.
Despite these market demands, many companies still manage customer service operations as an “island,” isolated from other parts of the company. Small wonder, then, businesses are looking to adopt a more modern approach to designing and delivering a consistently great customer experience. These rapidly changing customer expectations mean modern customer service management must also be approached as a team sport.
The good news is an array of new digital technologies and tools, including machine learning and artificial intelligence, can help companies get on the right path. Here are a few of these new capabilities:
- Unified experience. Provide customers with cohesive interactions across a company.
- Deep analytics. New tools can give companies greater visibility and accountability into customer experience across the entire organization.
- Predictive services. Advanced software can predict customer trends using data analytics and make proactive recommendations for customer service.
- Real-time monitoring. Identify issues before they happen by monitoring customer products and services in real-time.
- Customer self-service. Customers can resolve issues on their own with digital knowledge hubs, community forums, and virtual assistants.
- Automated case routing. Machine learning tools can effectively and efficiently route customers to human agents when needed.
- Omni-channel reach. Customers can tap into communications channels wherever they prefer to be—web, online chat, email, phone, text, or social media.
Achieving all of these elements in a customer experience takes thoughtful planning, designing, and continually monitoring opportunities for improvement. In this group of articles, we explore the steps companies can take to create a customer experience that wins loyalty and improves outcomes.
1. Creating a roadmap for customer experience
The first step in improving the customer experience is identifying all the existing touchpoints for customers across a company. Gathering this information can provide a map of how customers interact with different teams over the course of their relationship with a company.
Each of these teams should be included in the process of providing a unified customer experience, so that all share the same data about customers. Such transparency enables faster, more effective solutions to complex problems.
2. Redesigning the customer experience
With the customer experience mapped and data organized, new processes and workflows can be designed and implemented for every touchpoint across the company. That can start with identifying bottlenecks in existing customer service delivery and determining which of those could be better handled through automation, machine learning, or other digital solutions.
Once these new workflows are in place, companies can more easily measure the impacts on customer experience and create opportunities for continual fine-tuning. New analytics dashboards can also help monitor progress and identify customer problems before customers are even aware.
3. Key statistics: Making the case for redesigning customer experience
Companies considering new customer experience initiatives need to get buy-in from senior executives. An array of industry statistics, survey data, and other facts can help make the case for redesigning customer experience and for investing in advanced customer service management platforms.
Other statistics show how customer demands have shifted, what’s at risk for companies when the customer experience fails to meet those demands, and why it’s never been a better time to establish processes optimized for customers and ready to keep adapting.