Customers Want More From Customer Experience – Here’s How Technology Can (And Can’t) Help
From Best Buy to Etsy, 2022 is the year brands are investing in customer experience or CX. Customers want more from companies, and the broken contact center system can’t keep up with their increasingly complex requests. Technology plays a role in this and spending on customer experience tech is expected to exceed $600 billion by the end of this year.
But new tech alone can’t meet the needs of modern customers. Instead of a new widget or a different app, brands must build CX that uses tech purposefully – both to solve customer problems efficiently and support human employees who provide the empathy customers require. To do this, businesses must reframe their approach to CX and ensure all tech, whether current or emerging, suits the needs of modern customers.
The Big Reframe: CX Is a Revenue Generator, Not a Fire Extinguisher
Before business leaders can start to tailor their tech to the needs of customers, they’d benefit from rethinking the purpose of CX entirely.
Companies have spent decades treating CX as a nuisance and a cost-center.
But, this approach leaves customers and customer service agents struggling to get the resources they need to efficiently solve problems. So, even if deflecting a customer today saves a business overhead on CX, it completely misses the opportunity to win over a new, repeat customer.
Take retail as an example – a recent study found that more than half of surveyed retailers worried rising customer acquisition costs would threaten their 2022 sales goals.
But how many potential customers do brands lose along the way due to unanswered customer questions during the presale phase?
And what happens if retention efforts can’t match pace with customer growth? That rising acquisition spend goes to waste. CX can fulfill a customer’s pre-purchase needs, bring a sale to the finish line, and strengthen a customer’s loyalty over their lifetime.
Reframing CX as a revenue generator means investing in the solutions that actually support customers, and avoiding tech decisions that only help your budget.
Chatbots Can’t Replace Your Entire Front Line Support Team – But They Can Complement Them
Chatbots, like the IVR systems that preceded them, are a key example of how businesses have built CX tech around their needs instead of the customers. Chatbots became a one-size-fits-all answer to any customer service inquiry, but really it was only a one-size-fits-budget solution. Embittered customers endured absurd loops with IVR-like chatbots who are not equipped to solve their problems.
And it’s not the chatbots’ fault – the AI we’d need to replicate all human agents just doesn’t exist.
From 2022 onward, brands should prepare to revisit how they divvy requests between chatbots and human agents to make sure each succeeds, and ultimately make the customer’s life easier. There’s some good news here too, because we already know what the human/chatbot division of labor should look like. Chatbots can best support customers when brands position them to manage high volume and low complexity requests, such as order tracking.
However, a winning chatbot should also be equipped to understand when it’s time to route a customer to a human agent. This means detecting more complicated requests, especially if the inquiry involves the lifetime value of a customer like cancellations or loyalty programs. It’s essential to make this collaboration between humans and technology seamless and clear to the customer, too – 80% of customers become more willing to engage with a chatbot if they know they can easily transfer to a live person.
Scaling Your CX Successfully
When companies grow, their CX is usually the first thing to expose its growing pains. While early members of the team may have labored over each individual customer service ticket, expansion makes that impossible. Through scaling up, a brand that once prided itself in diligent customer service might find themselves tempted to find a low-cost solution.
Strategically applied, CX tech can help companies deal with the realities of increased customer service volume. An AI can flag common customer service tickets or negative activity over social media. That could help customer service agents and CX leadership identify challenges before they become a brand liability.
As brands scale up and look to AI for support, they should also carefully assess how they measure successful interactions. This means casting a critical eye towards common KPIs, like first response time, and instead focusing on measurements that encompass a customer’s entire journey, such as time to resolution. This also challenges brands to center the customer’s experience again, even in evaluation. From constructing customer satisfaction measures in an intuitive way to timing the assessment when they’re most prepared to respond – building quality KPIs requires the same attention and care as the CX infrastructure itself.
And beyond just keeping up, brands should use their new influx of customer data to create more value for customers. By streamlining data infrastructures within their organization, brands can unlock insights across CX and marketing efforts to create a hyper-personalized and cohesive journey from the customer’s first ad view to their latest repeat purchase.
When applied thoughtfully, tech augments the human element and positions each part of the brand’s marketing, advertising and customer service to exceed expectations. It’s not just a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s an absolute necessity for brand survival.
The Endless CX Opportunities in the Metaverse
As people begin to explore the metaverse, brands should consider how the platform might influence their CX approach. While we don’t know exactly how the metaverse will evolve, it has the potential to unlock new forms of interactive CX and more opportunities to earn customer loyalty through empathetic, personalized support.
But, the most important thing brands can do to prepare for the metaverse is recalibrate their CX and keep a level head about the trend. Brands should take the time to really understand what a successful metaverse CX interaction looks like from the customer’s perspective, then they can use tech and human expertise to support that experience.
Customers won’t stand a 24-hour holding statement anymore, and they shouldn’t have to fight through layers of CX purgatory to solve a simple problem. And that’s where we see the future of CX tech – it’s about understanding what customers need and thoughtfully applying technology to achieve that.
It isn’t about a quick fix. Whether setting up an e-shop in the metaverse or preserving the customer experience during expansion, companies must treat customer experience or CX as a vital revenue generator and that enhances their brand. Companies who fail to build a foundation of agile, attentive CX will see customers abandon them for competitors who can better meet their needs.