Today’s customers expect more than ever before. They don’t just want – they demand a level of attention from you that may not reflect the service and experience you provide. Your customers have been trained by companies like Amazon, Uber, and others that have disrupted their competition (and even entire industries) by creating a better customer experience (CX). That better CX is due to an experience that has less friction or hassle.
This was also one of the major themes at the recent PegaWorld conference in Las Vegas. Business processes, for both the customers and employees, must get better – as in, easier. Alan Trefler, CEO of Pegasystems, made this point clear in his opening keynote. For example, one of his slides showed the multiple ways that customers can connect with the companies they do business with. On the business side, we call this omnichannel, which is another way of saying all channels.
Consider that when we think of the customer, the concept of channels means nothing.
Customers just want to communicate with the company the way they prefer.
They want to connect, whenever they want, however they want – period!
Meanwhile, inside of the organization, the employees who support customers need a similar experience. It must be simple. Employees shouldn’t have to open 15 screens for 15 different applications just to get their job done. As Trefler stated, “All of this has to be connected – one place has everything; the end-to-end experience for both customers and employees.” – Check out some of the unique features hi.guru has that can enable this easy transition.
Organizations must embrace new technologies that reduce or eliminate friction for both customers and employees. What makes this difficult is that customers aren’t standing still. They are smarter and constantly being conditioned by the Amazons and Ubers of the world on what kind of experience to expect.
But don’t worry. Just becoming aware of this trend is a step in the right direction. The next step is to actively optimize one opportunity to eliminate friction at a time. Some of this will be easy. Some of it will take more work and investment.
When a customer calls your organization for support, what’s their experience? Do they wait on hold for what they consider an unreasonable period of time (regardless of how reasonable you think it is)? Do they have to repeat themselves? Do you have a self-service solution where they can take control?
Jeff Nicholson, Pegasystems’ global head of CRM, and I took the stage together at PegaWorld to discuss these trends and more, especially as they apply to the customer support world. The goal is to eliminate friction – to make things easier for the customer. According to Nicholson, the key is knowing where to look. There are seven primary categories that commonly cause friction for customers:
- Duration: Why is the customer on hold for so long? To them, it’s a waste of time. It’s friction.
- Identity: Why don’t you already know who the customer is? How many different pieces of information does a customer have to share for you to validate they are who they say they are?
- Memory: Why do customers have to repeat themselves? When they are transferred between people or departments, why can’t the next person know what was already said and their story? If the customer calls back about an issue from a prior call, do they have to start over?
- Consistency: Does the customer get a different answer when they call back? I remember trying to get some information about my mobile phone plan and got three completely different answers from three different support reps.
- Visibility: Can the customer see where they are in a process? Can they see if an issue is being worked on, if a package has shipped, etc.?
- Empowerment: Can the customer take control of the situation? Are there self-service tools for them to use that are easy and intuitive?
- Proactiveness: Why should a customer have to ask for something? Today, companies can predict when their customers might have a service issue before they know it themselves.
Furthermore, on the inside of the company, employees also want to experience less friction. Nicholson identified seven friction points for support center employees:
- Manual Sign-On: As new software is added, every time an employee comes to work, they may end up having to do multiple logins for the different programs being used. Automate and consolidate software logins. It saves time – and time is money.
- Siloed Applications: In the customer service world, the reps are used to seeing multiple screens for their different applications. One Pega study estimates workers switch apps more than 1000 times a day! Some of this can be brought together and save the employee effort of jumping from one screen and/or program to the next.
- Manual Data Entry: Companies still use antiquated systems, even pen and paper, to enter information. AI and “robots,” also known as robotic process automation (RPA) and robotic desktop automation (RDA), can play a role in the solution to this problem by helping to eliminate repetitive tasks, such as filling out forms on the computer or any other kind of data management.
- Enterprise Amnesia: The customer support agent shouldn’t have to ask the customer the same questions they’ve answered before. The system should provide the information the agent needs before they have to ask for it.
- Disempowerment: Employees are commonly forced to pass customers from person to person. Empowering agents to solve customer issues is key.
- Failed Self-Service: Often, customers don’t even want to talk to an agent and only engage with a person after failing to resolve their issue online. This leads to tension-laden conversations for both parties.
- Manual Wrap Up: Employees are forced to be the bridge across systems, entering information about the interaction in numerous places. The system can, and should, be smarter than this.
The key point Nicholson stressed is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Each friction point can be mapped to very rapid resolutions. By employing technologies such as web self-service, robotic automation, dynamic case management, unified desktops, and practical AI, these gaps can often be closed in short order.
A frictionless experience for both customers and employees is a winning combination. You can’t have a process that is customer-friendly, but difficult for employees to execute. It’s simple. You must focus on both the customer experience and the employee experience. So which comes first? Consider that what’s happening on the inside of the company is felt on the outside by the customer. But whichever you begin with, the key is to just get going. Your customers (and employees) are waiting for you.
Keep your communication with your customers strong and personal and most importantly, engage with them in THEIR channel of choice. You can easily do this using the hi.guru conversational platform and ultimately enhance customer experience by using responsive chatbots and other tools. It all starts by consolidating your existing communication channels into one and ensuring a better response time, a better resolution and a happier customer.