A couple of weeks ago I decided to make some purchases for my kids. I was amazed how different customer experience can be in nowadays connected world. But, to begin from the start: I ordered online two high value high-tech goods and two large bookshelves from a price strategy driven retailer. My expectation was very high from the high-tech consumer goods company. First of all his reputation for exceeding expectations, second I spent significant money on these goods, third it is a tech company, lastly I already spent a lot of money the last couple of years. In contrast to it I was very sceptical about my purchase of the bookshelves as this brand is all about cheap, cheap and cheap.
Oh man, how could I have been so wrong!
I really have to say first of all - well done to the retailer with the price strategy - you blew me away:
- The website was clear and easy to navigate inclusive ordering,
- You set clear expectations around delivery and actually over-delivered; the shelves arrived earlier than announced
- The integration with your delivery partner and its service worked very well for a busy family: I asked for a call beforehand, which I got, and they accommodated a delivery time after 6pm on the same day without hesitation.
- Between ordering and having the products at home was just around 24 hours.
- My credit card got charged for three items and I had to call to get my money back. All good only that the money took 3 days to be credited back.
- Both products broke down (charging issues) after a few days and had to be returned
- The expected delivery day on website and order confirmation in both deliveries wasn't met and it took them several days longer
- The goods were deposited in front of my door visible from the street after explicitly telling them that I don't agree to this and I want to pick up the devices at the delivery centre. This happened not only once, but twice!
- For delivery and pick up you can't put down a specific time, so I waited four times the whole day and in the end, they didn't even show up regardless of a time agreed via email or phone.
- The only way to communicate is more or less via phone. The chat functionality is only available for the US store. There are no physical stores and their service partners immediately want money from you to just look at your new products. In total I had 5 calls with to the company itself, 6 with their delivery partner and one with their service partner costing me more than 2 hours of my life. We exchanged about 10 emails and the whole process took about 6 weeks
- In the Contact Centre I had to constantly repeat my story, got conflicting answers, lodged two complaints and am still waiting for my call back with my promised compensation.
Two stories which couldn't be more different and are probably on the extreme side of things. Some more examples can be found in Paul Greenberg's blog http://www.zdnet.com/article/are-you-experienced-customer-lessons-from-comcast-american-girl-and-irish-whiskey/ including definitions and differentiation between customer experience and customer engagement. There is so much technology and innovation available to prevent these types of negative experiences.
How to convert them easily into a WOW!
In today's world customers expect that they get the same (good) service regardless of which channel and they can switch back and forward between them seamlessly. Companies should drive behaviour, define customer journeys and on the same time optimise their channels. This drives retention, loyalty and overall satisfaction and in the end, you will win new customers via Word of Mouth.
This starts from having a clear, easy to navigate and understandable website, where customers can log in and see their personalised information. The website should render on mobile phones or tablets or the company should offer a specific app for the user. Self-service ordering or the lodging of service requests or complaints is expected functionality, which is integrated to a CRM system. This should be supported by searchable knowledge articles and FAQs, which are using machine learning algorithms that prioritise articles based on e.g. customer histories and ratings. Self-service does not only have 24x7 availability, but is also the cheapest channel and this will help you to deflect calls and cases in your contact centre and even for your field service staff.
In case the customer still doesn't find the correct answers themselves, engage with them contextually. This could happen for example using personalised information based on their navigation history or by having a chat opening on the website or mobile app, offering them help. You want to keep them on their channel of choice if possible. The chat itself should be on the first level done by a bot, which can speak several languages and is available 24x7. Only if necessary, the virtual agent can do a warm handover to a real-life agent.
The whole bot development is currently undergoing some significant AI innovations, where they take insights from its interactions to drive customer satisfaction even further (deep learning). On top of this, employees are engaging in more complex requests and therefore you can increase employee satisfaction and lower churn rates. This is live at companies like HP and Macy's where virtual agents are handling more than 650,000 sessions a week according to the blog by Steve Guggenheim (https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/stevengu/2017/09/25/introducing-dynamics-365-ai-solutions/).
Human agents can use co-browsing, life chat or video calling to help the customers on the website or app to increase satisfaction. In addition, these agents get real time suggestions via e.g. knowledge articles, similar cases or intelligent next best actions to work more efficiently. Real-time sentiment analysis helps the agent further to act appropriately and to show empathy.
In case of voice calls, speech to text functionality enables the agent to fully concentrate on the customer needs, which leads to better quality service and more efficiency as less after call work need to happen. Topic analysis functionality based on machine learning text analytics helps understanding upcoming trends on issues and requests. This helps you to react faster to customer requests and especially issues happening throughout sales, the supply-chain or after service.
For more complex requests or complaints, case management functionality with a business process framework guides the agents through the process to close it within the companies SLA and, more importantly, to the satisfaction of the customer. Forgotten call backs and promises of compensation as happened with me shouldn't come up anymore these days. To further make processes more efficient, workflow and intelligent rule engines using machine learning models can automate steps.
In addition, the agent has access to a full 360 degree view of the customer, including data from different sources like CRM, website, social media, financial and supply chain systems to show his journey, important KPIs and significant information of the customer's transactions (see example below). Out of the box integration to first machine learning models are available that calculate churn scores, which give the agent advise and next best actions. (For more information see e.g. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-insights)
Even if the delivery of products or services are outsourced you should make sure that integration of data is set up and the service is as you would expect it to be. Above are just examples where technology can help you to provide customer experiences that meet or exceed expectations.