Every organization needs to take a hard look at being more mobile, social, connected and automated across the enterprise.
The last 20 years has seen digital technology upset existing markets, replace traditional approaches and create new industries. The evolution has turned payphones into mobile phones, paper maps into global positioning systems (GPS), and encyclopedias into Wikipedia. According to Statista 2015, communication has been digitized, with 3.2 billion Internet users in the world and 4.8 billion people worldwide owning mobile phones. This equates to 41% of all first-time product and service transactions now being passed through digital channels. And with the influence of social media, we are increasingly more digitally connected—directly and indirectly—to the brands with which we conduct business.
Due to the expectation of near instantaneous answers and action, navigating digital disruption is forcing organizations to be more focused and responsive to the needs of customers and employees than ever before. With infinitely more choices at their fingertips, consumers have an unwavering list of demands and find it easier to switch brands with a quick swipe of the finger. They want resourceful interactions, and uncompromising access to swift information and issue resolution. As well, today’s next-generation employees have become accustomed to unprecedented speed and information access, thus demanding the same in their work environments to enable their ability to meet these same demands from customers.
The Rising Tide of Data
Digital disruption is about swift change, and in the customer service environment, it revolves around the enablement of both employees and customers to effectively and efficiently engage with each other to affect a desired outcome. To successfully capitalize on this digital shift, there needs to be a seamless connection of customer journeys across digital channels that helps customers achieve outcomes that consistently end in a positive customer experience.
Organizations are finding that the road to achieve this result has evolved with digitization arming customers with more ability, technology and choice than ever before. Today, self-service has become commonplace for simple tasks, whereas phone calls are still the mainstay for complex service issues. As a result, the customer drives the engagement mechanism and traditional customer service approaches are being transformed. Companies must not only understand and accept customer centricity, but operationally keep pace with emerging technology to support an analytics-driven approach to multichannel customer service.
Leveraging every interaction to relentlessly evolve and improve the customer experience requires a great deal of data capture and analysis. Digitization has surfaced many more touchpoints including text, email, web, chat and mobile. Organizations that achieve customer experience success use a variety of technologies to capture and analyze massive volumes of data during customer interactions to provide more personalized customer experience and to help structure their operations with the voice of the customer top of mind.
Customer Engagement in the Multichannel World
Because multichannel service delivery is still evolving, many companies find themselves challenged by data residing in discrete functional silos, making it difficult to provide a true view of the customer journey. However, a view into the end-to-end experience is critical for companies to understand in order to more effectively and efficiently communicate with customers across channels consistently and contextually. This is a result of businesses being expected to have full insight into all of customers’ prior interactions and be able to respond in an actionable, personalized and consistent manner.
The challenge with this lies in capturing each of these interactions across many individual channels, and linking the data to gain a single, consolidated view of all interactions in order to deliver service that reflects this awareness. By evaluating the customer experience across all channels using a centralized solution, companies can quickly determine where to focus customer engagement efforts to help realize the greatest impact, and gain a deeper, more contextual understanding of customer data.
While multichannel engagement is recognized by most organizations as a strategic imperative, many find it challenging to link all the interaction data together for contextual insights that present a single view of the customer’s journey. For example, if a customer makes an inquiry by phone, then engages in an online web chat session and later performs a transaction on their mobile device, it is important for an organization to piece the different interactions together to understand when and why customers switch channels, and how that impacts the business. By understanding previous interactions and likely outcomes, companies can use the intelligence gained to deliver highly personalized service. Additionally, they can align customer feedback with the acquired insights to predict customer behavior or identify opportunities to reduce churn.
With this cultural, organizational and operational approach, recognizing buyer intent and customer needs, while delivering the right offer and support at the right time, drives more personalized, more predictable and more productive customer engagement.
Digitization Has Created a Next-Generation Workforce
As digital disruption has affected the way customers conduct business and their lives, it has had the same effect on the workforce. Particularly with millennials, who make up the majority of contact center employees, and need access to information and user interfaces similar to what they use personally. This digitally savvy workforce is more comfortable operating in a multichannel environment, therefore fostering the need for organizations to optimize and empower their next-generation employee workforce to be responsive to customer demands.
Organizations that enable an engaged workforce empower employees to do their best for continuous improvement and inspired customer interactions, impacting greater customer loyalty and overall business performance. Culturally, it is important to let employees know they are customer champions and play a role driving great experiences that lead to brand satisfaction. Engaged employees are key to driving customer engagement and the customer experience.
Organizations need to give employees access to the data and solutions they need to be champions for their customers, and ensure that employees are comfortable leveraging technology to support customer engagement in order to drive better customer experiences.
Giving Employees the Right Information and Tools
Successful organizations are empowering employees with data and analytics to decrease customer effort and help support all aspects of customer engagement. This can include from the provision of customer journey insights to access to analytics-driven data that can help employees ease customer effort and improve experiences in real-time. Access to analytics will continue to drive areas like self-service, social and mobile customer engagement as well as direct digital interactions across channels like chat and video.
Providing employees with tools to make interaction more personal and productive often involves taking the context of previous interactions and providing actionable recommendations to the agent. This context may exist in many places within the organization, but the information needs to be readily available, despite its location and age. Customers know the context of their interactions and expect the companies they engage with to know it too.
One aspect of this dynamic is the importance of integrating system information to be readily available to the agent. For example, systems of record containing billing and shipping data may be on legacy technology, and need to be woven into current channels of engagement and available on the employee desktop. Luckily, since digitization is happening across the organization, if an individual purchased an item back in 1988, the record will easily be available to the agent as part of the customer’s journey.
The Importance of the Engaged Workforce
Just as organizations must upgrade legacy systems and integrate customer data, digital disruption requires rethinking traditional approaches to the workforce. The ideology of a nine-to-five job is becoming obsolete, meaning that organizations need to retool how they approach things such as work/life balance. Progressive companies are becoming highly distributed thanks to connectivity and technology, now enabling performance and workforce optimization enhancements.
It’s well understood that engaged employees are often empowered to perform better. Providing employees with visibility into their performance to better understand how their behaviors impact the organization’s bottom line can contribute significantly to creating a happy workforce. Some effective strategies for achieving engaged employees can include:
- Access to daily scorecards showing individual metrics against goals helps employees understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture. This encourages appropriate work/life balance by accommodating flexibility requirements for choosing schedules and trading shifts, going a long way toward creating employee contentment, especially if the process is eased by mobile access.
- Deploy solutions that automatically prioritize the next work item for employees to help them seamlessly shift between different types of work—such as customer calls, chat sessions, emails and other non-customer facing work. When employees are given access to customer history and account information, they can be empowered with next-best action recommendations and can personalize the experiences for customers, allowing employees to have a positive and visible impact on customer satisfaction.
Leveraging tools that provide paths to improved service levels reduces employee stress, overtime, errors and fire drills. In addition, with less escalation and the need for crisis management, managers can focus on driving more productive work.
The Competitive Imperative
The nature of digital disruption is comprehensive and transformative. Over the last several years, the way people live and work has fundamentally changed, with constant connectivity and expectations of instantaneous response as the norm. Businesses that avoid changing to a digital-first mentality are going to have it forced upon them. Either leadership will embrace it and keep pace with the times or get steamrolled by competition.
Whether it’s a digital-only start-up taking a bite out of the market or an innovative incumbent, every organization needs to take a really hard look at being more mobile, more social, more connected, and more automated across the enterprise.