Tag Archive for customer experience

The Human Side of the Customer Experience

customer experience

In today’s digital world, people are spending more time online as screens become larger, web connections faster, and more people own smartphones. With so many online businesses vying for a customer’s attention, brands need to focus more than ever on making meaningful connections to stand out. Companies that singularly focus on digital tools but do not invest in the customer experience can expect to fall behind.
Forrester Research studies around the Customer Experience Interest shows that making customers feel valued and respected is the number one factor leading to customer loyalty. In the digital realm, that means you remember their names, preferences, and purchase history, and you go the extra mile to offer them something that is relevant and of value. Consumers want to spend their money with companies that demonstrate that they understand and attend to each customer’s individual needs and truly value who they are. We like to call this “humanizing” the customer experience.
Humanizing the Digital Customer Experience
The key to “humanizing the customer experience” is authenticity, and creating a true people-focused core in which all interactions are individual. Adding the human element means focusing on long-term relationships and on true partnerships with customers. Companies need to shift their thinking, and replace the immediate sales goals of the past with proactive interactions that align with the goals that customers have for themselves.

Here are 4 ways you can help your company humanize the customer experience.

1. Listen to your Customers: 
Do all of your customers have the same wants and needs? Do they have the same income, product affinities and communication preferences? Definitely not. According to the customer experience survey, 63% of consumers who would otherwise not want to share personal information are willing to share these details —if they’re dealing with a brand that has given them a good experience. Retailers have to listen with intention, gather feedback and data, analyze it and then incorporate it into a customer experience strategy.
Slack, a popular collaboration and project management tool, retains 6 million-plus daily users. “Our focus is on making Slack a great experience for individuals — our internal advocates, our ambassadors — since they are the ones who often start using the product, then share it with their teams,” says Ali Rayl, Slack VP of Customer Experience. “We respect our users’ opinions; we listen to their feedback and in turn they help shape the product.” Rayl says that incorporating feedback helped propel Slack’s growth. As the company began working with larger organizations, listening to these customers helped Slack leaders realize they needed to offer a custom product, and they were able to build that into their experience, cementing loyalty.
A company that listens to its customers will aim relevant and tailored messages to the individual customer.

2. Get the Basics: Right
Retail basics can prove to be monumental. The fundamentals of a positive retail experience — speed, convenience, consistency and friendliness — are challenging to get right. Touting a shiny new piece of technology or virtual reality dressing rooms is meaningless if a company isn’t getting the basics like delivery, payment and sourcing right.

Nearly 1/4 of early digital adopters — who represent 20% of consumers today — expect same-day delivery of goods. This same group also expects to pay via mobile payment in stores. Analysts estimate that mobile payment will surge more than 16-fold between 2012 and 2020 as consumers adapt to this prevalent technology. Apps that offer mobile payment can boost loyalty and customer spending.

 

3. Become AI-Driven
:Incorporating AI into your customer experience process allows you to have a deeper knowledge of each individual customer that continues to get smarter over time. Feedback from every customer interaction should be fed back into the customer profile. You need a closed-feedback loop to continuously learn from every interaction, which allows you to become smarter about your customers, their needs and their behavior.
Example: You register for a marathon using your credit card. Your bank may provide you with offers from an athletic clothing partner based on knowledge from that registration transaction. Although you’ve never purchased sports clothes from this brand, an AI-driven brand will have some very specific, targeted recommendations for the best apparel you need for the marathon. Offers are made based on your own credit card transaction history but can also take into account what other customers like you have purchased. Your response to the company’s offer will be fed back to optimize the future customer experience.

4. Real-Time Action
: A clear advantage to enhancing customer experience is to act on AI knowledge and feedback in real-time. Every interaction – whether next best offer, alerts etc. – needs to be delivered in a timely manner to ensure impact and results. Customers expect a personalized relationship with your brand and becoming AI-driven not only makes you continuously smarter, it uses the individual customer context to automate many processes. This is important because it means you are instantly ready to respond to and anticipate a customer’s next step.
Let’s revisit the financial industry example: You just called your credit card company’s customer service department due to an unusual charge, and the agent tells you the issue would be resolved within the hour. Ideally, if you were to check the credit card app on your phone, you would be alerted that the issue was resolved. You shouldn’t have to call back the customer service agent for an update. This proves that every customer interaction with the credit card company is tracked in real-time, and the conversation continues with relevancy no matter which touchpoint you engage.
Conclusion
Humanizing the customer experience means connecting with your customer on their multi-device, multi-channel journey, in the digital and physical world and providing a seamless and continuous experience. It’s having an individual-level understanding of every customer, and putting those insights into action. Finding the “sweet spot”, where technology complements the human element of customer experience without creating new frustrations, is how retailers will win loyalty.

Which is more important? Customer Experience (CX) or Employee Experience (EX)

Many professionals would argue that both are important. So is this a trick question? Which experience should take precedence?

It turns out companies with a balanced emphasis on the customer and the employee’s experiences position themselves in the sweet spot with the most potential for exceptional results.

It is difficult to provide a positive customer experience when the employee experience is negative. Unhappy employees don’t usually bring their best effort to the job. And that can adversely affect the customer experience.

So start from the inside and work your way out. Start by focusing on the employee experience. Then move quickly to the customer experience and create a balance where both are kept as top priorities.

Employee Experience

What’s at stake with the employee experience? If employees hate their job, their negative attitude will affect every aspect of their performance…which includes dealing with customers. If they dislike their job enough to quit, you will spend more of your valuable time and energy recruiting new help and then training and onboarding them.

On the other hand, if an employee has a positive and rewarding work environment they are more likely to be happier and perform better. It’s a proven fact that happy employees do better work.

Ask yourself this question…Why would someone want to work for our company?

It goes to the way employees are treated, but also directly ties to customer experience. Without happy employees you will not have engaged employees. And a lack of engagement can impact customer experience. Take a look at the list of the best places to work for and the companies with the best customer service and you are guaranteed to see an overlap.

 

Customer Experience

We all know negative news spreads faster than positive news, especially now with the prevalence of social media. If a customer has a poor experience, not only will they never return but they are more than likely going to leave a negative review, which will keep others from ever giving you a shot.

Customers are more than happy to tell friends, family, or anyone who will listen to avoid your business.

On the other hand, if a customer has a positive experience, they’ll become a repeat customer. In turn, they will refer others to you, which is the best kind of advertising!

Ask yourself this…Why should someone do business with me?

What makes us better than our competition? What do we do differently…and does it affect customer experience?

Finding Balance

What is happening on the inside of a company can definitely be felt on the outside by customers. But as much as you focus on creating a positive customer service experience, the same effort needs to be made to enhance the working environment for employees.

 

 

79% of Consumers want Human-Driven Customer Service

customer service

 

The use of automation in customer service (think chat bots and automated email responses) is becoming more common these days due to its ability to increase efficiency and reduce the burden on human workers. However, in certain circumstances, human intellect, emotional intelligence, and empathy are needed to resolve a problem. As technology becomes more capable and lines are blurred between humans and machines, customer-centric companies will need to determine the most appropriate circumstances in which to use automation or actual humans to earn the best outcomes within the empathy economy.

In recent years, retailers and brands have opened up a variety of new channels, including chatbots, live chat and self-service options, through which they can engage with and support their customers. For the most part, that’s a good thing, giving customers more ways to reach their favorite brands, and giving these companies more opportunities to provide their customers with positive experiences. However, customers still should have the option to speak to a human if that is what they prefer.

Human interaction still reigns supreme

Conversations have always emerged as the main method in which humans work to resolve problems and build relationships. Empathy is what enables humans to understand another’s position and builds a trusted connection, which  ultimately leads to the desired outcome. But while the concepts of empathy, conversations, and emotion seem simple and natural, good communication relies heavily on how words are spoken, not simply the actual words spoken.

Over half (56% percent) of customers believe a phone call offers the quickest way to get a problem resolved; in comparison, webchat was chosen by just 7%. When seeking creative solutions to complex service problems, most customers still seek out other humans.

In a study by customer engagement and analytics software firm Calabrio, about 79% of 3,000 consumers surveyed prefer interacting with a human instead of a chatbot or digital self-service channel. Also, 74% of those surveyed said they are more loyal to a business that provides them with the option to speak to a human, than those that only support customer service through digital or self-service channels.

 

Understanding emotional states

Brands need to be primed to handle various scenarios that require different levels of emotional intelligence. For non-sensitive interactions, customers choose the fastest means possible, such as email, chat bots, or website FAQs. But when it comes to more complex issues, customers want to speak with a human who can appropriately respond to the complexity and emotional nature of the problem. When it comes down to it, a customer ultimately wants to feel like they are important and their concern is being taken seriously.

Consider an insurance company, where customers often call to deal with difficult circumstances such as death, accident, or financial loss. Chat bots are incapable of providing the emotional support required in these situations and such coldness can be off-putting to customers. This could result in the feeling that a company does not value its customers.

AI customer care

 

Augmenting human empathy with artificial intelligence

As technology continues to advance, brands are now forced to find the right blend of automation and human interaction. Brands must tailor interactions to meet the unique preferences of consumers. By combining the best capabilities of humans and machines, the service industry will be a prime example for how human-aware and human-empowering technology can help brands deepen and evolve trusting relationships with their customers.

Backed by extensive behavioral science research out of MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab, Cogito delivers A.I. software that analyzes behavior through voice to give live feedback to call center agents and an instant measure of customer perception. The result is agents who are more empathetic and attuned to a customer’s emotional state, which allows them to provide better, more personalized customer service. The technology is being used by Fortune 500 companies like MetLife, Humana, and Zurich Insurance to enhance employee productivity, which will result in improved customer interactions and deeper relationships.

To be successful, organizations must realize the value of human connection and provide emerging technologies to amplify employee capabilities. By investing in employee skills and human-empowering technology—and realizing the significance of augmented intelligence—companies will provide better customer service offerings, increase brand loyalty, and support overall business success.