Customer experience for the future | The titans of CX
We held a free panel discussion on Customer Experience of The Future, with some of the brightest minds in the CX industry. They had some truly brilliant insights to share with us.
Meet the Titans of CX
Your 1st panelist for the Customer Experience for The Future virtual panel discussion is the one and only, Shep Hyken! Chief Amazement Officer of Shepherd Presentations, Shep's insights are highly valued by Disney, Lexus, and Shell, among many others.
Colin Shaw, CEO, Beyond Philosophy is your 2nd panelist for our discussion on Customer Experience for The Future. Microsoft, FedEx, and Phillips all trust him with their CX.
Your 3rd Customer Experience for The Future panelist, Dan Gingiss held leadership positions at McDonald's, Discover, and Humana. He's even delivered CX presentations for SAP, Motorola Solutions and Dreamforce.
The Digital Ghost Queen, Elise Quevedo, is your 4th panelist for the Customer Experience for The Future virtual panel discussion. Elise is a social media strategist and is all about providing value to customers.
This section will contain a summary of our panel discussion on Customer Experience of the Future.
What kinds of friction do you see customers facing during and after the pandemic? What should businesses do to avoid and reduce that friction from the onset?
If customers are experiencing friction during the pandemic that’s recognizably different from what they faced before it, companies need to start mitigating and eliminating that friction.
The biggest friction has to do with the support centers. 35-40% of the people who normally go through digital channels to find answers have now started calling the contact centers. That’s put a huge load on those contact centers.
Some companies have managed to scale up properly, but many haven’t. The entire world has been forced to go remote. Companies to learn from what happened and plan ahead. We hope this crisis doesn’t happen again, but we need to be prepared in case it does.
Digitalization is definitely reducing friction. For example, people don’t want to physically exchange cash right now. Digital payment methods are making it much easier and reducing friction.
Given the economic downturn, organizations that treat customer service as cost centers would reduce budgets and cut staff. What reasons would you give to such organizations not to do so?
The question we should be asking is-
What drives value?
If the call centers drive value, you need to give the customers what they want. But if they don’t drive value you may need to shut them down.
In most cases, yes, the call centers will drive a lot of value, but that may not hold true for every since business. You need to look at your metrics and figure out which resources are actually valuable to your customers and then invest in those resources.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, you should avoid cutting costs in places that directly impact the customer experience. If you can avoid doing it, avoid it.
Digital customer service resources like social media are also a great way to deliver value to customers. And with the option for Direct Messaging, it’s possible to reach the business quickly. We need to train customers to adopt the digital means so that the phone lines aren’t completely clogged up and they don’t have to wait in line to reach the business.
The talk has shifted significantly towards digital transformations. But there seems to be no standard roadmap for adoption that organizations follow. What aspects of the customer experience lifecycle do you see being accelerated for adoption and why?
Keeping your customers first is key. Businesses seem to forget what being a customer is all about.
Businesses seem to think that emerging technologies will come in and solve everything. But, if the foundation is not strong, it’s all going to topple over.
Data is something that’s going to help us get further. The better we understand data and analytics, the faster we’ll be able to accelerate digital transformations in the customer experience lifecycle.
Digital systems and real-time engagement provided by AI have helped improve experiences dramatically. It’s all about using AI to personalize experiences for the customers. And this makes work much easier for human agents too.
It’s not about getting rid of the human agents. It’s all about using technology to augment and support their efforts.
We need to train our customers to best utilize our digital support options so that they can save their time and energy and we can create better experiences for them.
Another great tool is video. And that’s not just limited to talking to someone over video. It could even involve videos that help customers with their problems. It’s essentially like someone standing over their shoulder, guiding them whenever they have any issues.
Just looking at a digital experience through rational eyes is not enough. We need to understand that customers are not rational beings. What they say and what they do can be really different.
We need to craft our digital experiences while keeping the psychological aspect in mind. We always need to look at the customers’ behavior from a psychological perspective.
Everyone’s stuck at home and social media use to some estimates have gone up 5x. How important has social customer care become in this situation and what should businesses do to ensure that their customers have a great experience with them on social media?
People are drawn to social media because of the social aspect. It’s a place to talk to people and connect with them. It’s also becoming a channel of first resort to a whole lot of people. Simply going to Twitter and sending the brand a Direct Message helps you get a response really fast.
And it eliminates a lot of the other sources of friction. You don’t have to wait in line for someone to attend to you. You don’t have to wait on hold. There’s no need to wait for ages to get a response to an email.
When you engage with a customer on social media, you’re not just engaging with one customer. You’re engaging with all your customers and potential customers. They’re watching. And they make decisions off of that. So, if you don’t treat one customer right, you’re going to lose a lot of business.
The people we need to hire for digital require a digital skillset than those we hired for call centers. Firstly, they need to write. We’ve never asked for writing samples when hiring for call centres, but that has become immensely important for social media.
They also require some training in public relations. When they’re on social media, you’re essentially the voice of the company. They need to be media trained so that they can speak for the company.
You also need to think about the emotions that your customers are feeling and what emotions you want them to feel.
You need to ask yourself-
What experience am I trying to deliver and what emotions am I trying to invoke in my customers?
Your entire experience needs to crafted along these lines. Everything that you write on social media has to come from the experience that you’re trying to deliver and the emotions that you’re trying to invoke.
We just had a panel discussion on our sister channel last week on Future of Work where the discussion alluded to the era of customer-centricity becoming secondary to employee centricity in these times of fear and uncertainty. What would be your thoughts on this aspect?
What happens on the inside of your company defines what happens outside your company. When you make your employees happy, they treat your customers better. When they treat the customers better, they want to do business with your company again and that makes the investors happy.
Shep shares his golden rule here-
It isn’t an either/or situation. One builds upon the other. If your employees are unhappy, they will be unable to serve your customers. And if your customers are unhappy, they will not buy from you.
If you want your customers to trust you and to feel cared for, the experience inside the organization should be one in which the employees are trusted and cared for. And that also makes you wonder what kind of people you want working with your customers on the front line.
The people you hire need to be able to elicit the emotion that you’re trying to invoke in the customers.
Dan spoke to the owner of a multi-chain pizza restaurant who actually said he’s in the customer service business. He also got the chance to interview an Iron Chef winner who owns 4 restaurants in Chicago. When he asked her what percentage of her success was attributed to the quality of the food and what is attributed to customer experience, she said it’s 50-50. You can get away with decent food and a great experience. You can’t have amazing food and a terrible experience.
How can CX evolve during and post the Covid era for SaaS companies?
It’s not going to go back to what it was. The changes that we went through in this rapid period of time will all get consolidated.
Technology is definitely going to play a large role here. Zoom is now worth more than the 7 largest airlines in the world.
All the journey maps that have been made in the past need to be redone. The ways in which customers interact with us are now going to change.
All of these things are really going to have an emotional impact on the people. But, there is a silver lining to this pandemic. It’s that it has changed customers’ habits. We have the opportunity to shape their new habits. Digitalization will help us shape their habits into the things thaat we want them to do.
Apart from Voice of Customer programs, what are other initiatives that can continue to improve customer engagement levels ?
Voice of the Customer is what we need to listen to. We need to get the right feedback from the customers.
The metrics are all important. NPS, CSAT and all the others. They’re all important to a point. But, the one metric which is most important is the customer coming back to do business with you. If you don’t get that metric right, none of the others are going to matter. So, get the right feedback from them.
What can we do to motivate our internal customers? What’re your thoughts on helping agents manage customers emotionally?
How we treat our employees is going to affect the way we treat our customers. So, it’s very important to be empathetic towards our employees, especially during these times.
Right now, it’s one of the only times in human history that everyone is experiencing the same thing at the same time. So, it’s easier than usual to be empathetic. We know what our employees are going through. We know that they have to balance their work with their family and pets.
Some of our employees have kids running around the house, maybe we could let them take a break once in a while to deal with that. Most of our employees are overworked right now anyways. Work from home is becoming more like overwork from home right now, so we need to give them a break every once in a while. We need to be empathetic towards them.
Do you think more bots and automation will take over customer centers and contact centers?
Although it’s not advisable to completely automate everything, you need to use some sort of automation to speed up customer service and improve the experience.
Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand whether they would prefer going down the automated route.
But, it’s definitely going to be used as a kickstart point for customer service.
We ran a poll, asking people if they’d be comfortable using chatbots to solve their queries and about 86% of the participants said, ‘Yes’. So, automation is definitely going to gain a lot of importance in customer service.
But, it cannot be completely automated or completely human. They both have to go hand in hand. Automation is here to complement human efforts and not to replace it.
What are the best channels for B2B customer service?
The best channel is whichever one your customers are on!
And that can be different for different B2B companies. Yes, there are B2B companies that are really successful on social media. There are companies that showcase personality and share witty content and even show thought leadership.
The thing that most B2B companies do wrong is that they think they’re different. They’re thinking,
‘We’re B2B, so does this apply to us?’
What you need to ask yourself is,
‘Are we marketing to a person or are we marketing to a building?’
We’re marketing to other human beings, and just like the consumer world, humans buy from people that they like.
The businesses that you’re reaching out to are represented by humans. And if those humans are on social media, then you got to be there for them on social media too. You need to be active in the channels that they are.
So, B2Bs need to act more like B2Cs in that manner.
Wrapping it up!
We hope you've gained a lot of insights and value from our panel discussion on customer experience for the future.
The pandemic is certainly not an excuse to give up on creating great customer experiences. It's a good time to use digital technologies and automation to serve our customers better and reduce the amount of time that they have to wait before their queries get solved.
It's time to treat your customers better. Explore Engati's AI offerings and get started with automating customer service today.
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More from the Titans
We're not stopping at the Customer Experience for The Future panel discussion. Our Titans have something more for you while you're here.
Check out our interview with Shep Hyken that kicked off the Engati CX series.
Here's our interview with Dan Gingiss on crafting seamless customer journeys.
And go through Elise Quevedo's interview on providing value to customers here.
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