When the world went into lockdown, consumers had no choice but to turn to digital-first solutions to manage their everyday matters.
The result is that businesses offering effortless, personalised, and more human digital experience won out – with other businesses rushing to accelerate their digital transformation strategies to compete.
If the 2008 recession is any indication for what the future may hold, those who focus most on CX will significantly outperform those who don’t. Those who don’t accelerate their CX strategy now risk losing business in a post-COVID economy when every customer counts.
So what steps can businesses take to create an excellent customer experience?
To find out, we spoke with Dorothy O’Byrne, Managing Director of the Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA) who has 25 years of experience within the Irish and UK customer service and contact centre industry; and our very own Ian Price, Principal Platform Architect at ServiceNow who also has 25 years of experience in Service Management roles.
Here’s what they had to say.
1. Business agility is a core component of customer experience
In the wake of the pandemic, digital agility has proven itself invaluable to business continuity.
According to Dorothy, “A lot of companies surprised themselves with how quickly they came up with a digital solution that worked for both their employees and their customers when they had to shut down operations. Those companies that quickly adapted at the onset of the pandemic were able to improve their internal processes and workflows to help their remote employees continue to deliver a great customer experience.”
Ian notes that innovation is happening quicker than ever before, and businesses need to become more digitally agile to stay ahead of the curve: “Business agility is a skill that companies now recognise they need to have or risk falling behind.”
The benefits of such agility, however, are clear: companies who fully embraced digital solutions over the past year found they could shorten decision making, rapidly change processes, and better leverage technology to make work more effective.
While integrating new technologies can be a huge help, it’s vital for companies to identify key pain points before deciding if a solution is right for them, and ensure it’s the right fit for employees too.
Going the low- and no-code route is a great option here, as it allows both the tech savvy and tech novices to quickly adopt and adapt to new technology.
That matters, because when employees are empowered with the right tools – and enjoy using them – they’re far more willing and able to take on new challenges and keep up with changing expectations.
2. Go the extra mile for customers
While customer experience is key, that experience must be consistent to make a real impact.
“Consumers are looking to interact and engage with organisations offering more customer-friendly experiences – but people get frustrated when they have a consumer-grade experience in one place, only to have an archaic experience somewhere else,” says Ian.
The change in expectations is forcing many companies to take a hard look at their customer journeys to identify and remove friction, and improve customer satisfaction.
“It’s about listening to customers and personalising services to them,” says Dorothy. “And while digital channels allow us to reach out, don’t underestimate the power of empathy.”
Consider An Post, Ireland’s postal service, who created a different approach to customer support.
At the height of the pandemic, An Post gifted pre-paid postcards to every home in Ireland so people could send a postcard to loved ones. And when schools closed, postmasters delivered colouring books to children stuck at home.
These simple gestures helped An Post connect with their customer base, and offered human contact for those in isolation or for those living in rural areas.
What’s clear is that to win over customers, companies need to create more human and relatable customer interactions.
And that means ensuring frontline employees are provided the tools and support they need to take that customer experience to another level.
3. Treat employees as you would your customers
Even before the pandemic, many businesses were aware that engaged employees are instrumental to the success of delivering exceptional customer experiences.
In fact, companies with high employee engagement gain 2.5x more revenue than organisations with low engagement levels.
A positive employee experience is the sum of multiple factors that includes office culture, working environment, and how difficult it is for employees to succeed in their roles. Dorothy notes, “Employees are valuable assets; companies really need to retain that resource and engage employees on a whole new level.”
By putting frontline employees in the centre of your CX strategy, you’re sure to see more empowered and engaged employees as a result. Technology is one way of making that happen: “We’re seeing a rise of automation and robots essentially become a digital assistant to employees, automating low-level tasks so employees can deliver an improved end-to-end customer experience,” says Ian.
“If a customer were to reach out through digital channels, they might come across a self-service chatbot that screens out repetitive transactional activities and escalates the more complex issues to a customer service agent.“
That improves the customer experience, according to Dorothy, “...but it also makes the customer service role more enjoyable, as employees get to handle more complex queries that require a higher level of support and engagement. It’s a win for the customer, but a win for the employee, too.”
To hear the full discussion on how you can create a seamless end-to-end customer experience, click here