Look In the Mirror: Do You See Your Customer?

In my recent travels, I was having dinner with a client and experienced an epiphany: Many businesses may be turning customers away and not even know it.

The client I was dining with is a contact center executive at a consumer products company in an emerging market. He lamented the fact that his customers won’t use alternate support channels like email, chat and SMS, much less video. He said they still prefer voice calls.

Yet as we ate dinner, he kept pulling out his smartphone to check emails and exchange texts with employees, vendors and customers. It was clear that both he and they were very comfortable using those alternate channels.

Hmmm… the proverbial light bulb went on.

It made me wonder: How many companies could be missing some percentage of revenue growth–or at least opportunities to improve customer experience–because they underestimate their customers?

Related article: The High Cost of Customer Inconvenience: Gradual (Then Sudden) Failure

Clearly, adoption of consumer technologies such as smartphones and tablets lags today in some emerging markets simply due to cost. But that’s changing rapidly. Think about the opportunity it represents.

Technology adoption will accelerate quickly in emerging markets as purchasing power there expands. It’s already happened in the BRIC countries–Brazil, Russia, India and China. And a new wave of emerging markets is cropping up across Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

How can your company take advantage of the opportunity this represents?

Take a look backward

If you haven’t already, map the journey of your typical customers from end to end. Take an outside-in look at your contact center operations and learn what your customers want from you and how they expect to get it. Then dig deeper into the data and make sure you pinpoint where they are happiest with their interactions and where you can improve.

Put together a playbook

If your company or your competition has advanced contact center operations in established markets, go back and document how and when they introduced new channels. What worked and didn’t work? Which channels were introduced because of customer demand, and what trigger points made the business case to invest in each channel? Be very specific about those triggers so you can recognize them next time.

Be ready

With those new insights, you’re now ready to look at emerging or underdeveloped markets. Assess the opportunities there, and if conditions aren’t favorable, repeat the assessments in a few months. When “the stars align” according to your playbook, pull the trigger. Chances are, you’ll be ahead of your competitors and first to market with something new that customers will value.

If you think outside the contact center and look at your business the way your customers do, you may have an epiphany too–and many great opportunities along with it. Let me know when you do.

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3 Key Steps to Starting Your Company-wide Digital Transformation

Stats show that 80% of companies identify “digital transformation” as their top strategic priority—but only 5% feel they’ve mastered it. Why the gap? Achieving a digital experience to a point of competitive differentiation requires organizational alignment. Digital transformation represents a crucial paradigm shift across the entire organization, yet research suggests only a fraction of companies currently implement an enterprise-wide digital strategy. To successfully digitize, all lines of business (LOB) must be aligned and move in concert towards digital innovation. This involves communication and collaboration among key stakeholders, especially senior executives, across every business unit—even ones you wouldn’t typically include.

Put simply, digital transformation is more than just digitizing your infrastructure before your competitors do. Yes, it’s about serving the growing number of digital consumers faster and better. But, more importantly, it requires a shift in organizational mindset and redefinition of business processes. The starting point for any digital transformation initiative should be a clear understanding among all business leaders (not just IT) about the nature, direction and projected outcomes of the transformation.

What does the discovery process look like? It can be summed up in three key steps:

  1. Situational Assessment: Executives across every LOB need to weigh in and agree on business drivers and expectations. Insights derived from this assessment should be used to map out short- and long-term business goals and key digital strategies to ensure organizational alignment.
  2. Opportunity Prioritization: Identify target applications and technology architectures, then determine how these new solutions will affect existing technologies and align with core needs (i.e., operational savings, CX improvements). In parallel, use this time to identify, analyze and prioritize gaps between existing and planned processes.
  3. Roadmap Creation: A detailed roadmap helps you finalize digitization plans before implementation. It should outline phasing strategy sequences, risk mitigation plans, and project feasibility reports that define the timeline, dependencies, costs (and return) and controls of each digital initiative. Consider this your digital transformation playbook.

Digital transformation is the foundation of how organizations will succeed or fail. Check out our eBook, Fundamentals of Digital Transformation, to learn more about this discovery process—the first of a five-step plan for creating a foolproof digital transformation strategy. Let me know what you think. We are here to help and happy to discuss.

When it Comes to Your Customer Experience: Ditch Legacy, Go Digital!

The future of business, indeed the future of customer experience, is life as we know it—here and NOW. Organizational success right now, however, depends on one thing: digital transformation.

Digital transformation can mean many things, but includes a fundamental idea—applying digital technologies to all aspects of life. For consumers, they use their smart devices, laptops, tablets, and favorite apps to make it through the day. For organizations, this means figuring out how to leverage existing digital technologies (apps, processes, procedures) and resources (essentially the talent of your employees) within your business strategically to serve consumers on their terms at any moment—all the time. And to do so better than your competition. Digital transformation also means looking at your existing business applications, mobile apps, processes, procedures, and talent through a different lens.

A successful digital transformation requires a shift in organizational behavior and cultural mindset. It means creating a strategic road map that outlines implementation and ongoing process improvement. It requires executive buy-in, sponsorship, and steady leadership. Perhaps most daunting of all, it means companies working to truly know and understand their customers. It means enterprise leaders having a firm grip on the big data that infuses their organizations.

The reality of a smart, digital world is clear. Advanced technologies like IoT and virtual reality are no longer science fiction, but fact. So much so that in just three short years, it’s expected that 100 million consumers will be shopping in virtual reality, and up to 20 billion objects will be Internet-enabled. Meanwhile, automation and data analytics have evolved from luxuries to enterprise necessities. Driven by this rapid pace of digital change, analysts predict that 65% of children today will grow up to work in roles that don’t yet exist.

Companies need to successfully digitize to remain agile, integrated and future-proof enough to support this future of everything. The good news is that 80% currently identify “digital transformation” as their top strategic priority. The bad news? These same companies are seriously struggling to migrate from their existing aged processes and legacy systems and architecture. Consider industries like government, where 71% of federal IT decision makers still use old operating systems to run important applications. How can they go digital without having the latest platforms in place to support a digital environment?

Organizations can’t re-imagine operations, re-engineer critical processes, or align key business areas the way they need to while relying on antiquated technologies. But creating a migration path is easier said than done. We have said it before and we will say it again, it’s about more than just the technology.

Sounds challenging, but it’s not impossible. Our ebook, The Fundamentals of Digital Transformation, can help organizations get started. Take a look to learn more about the top challenges of taking legacy experiences into the digital world, as well as the five key steps organizations can take to minimize disruption and boost adoption of new digital capabilities. Let me know what you think. We are here and happy to discuss.

Check out the Cool Avaya Omnichannel Contact Center Demos at ICMI

Sometimes you travel to Orlando to really fun destinations. But this May 22-25, when you arrive in Orlando for the 2017 ICMI Contact Center Expo and Conference, we think you’ll be heading for what we like to call the second happiest place on earth. Visit Avaya’s Booth 623 for a fun omnichannel contact center experience that shows you how to create satisfaction—happiness—for customers throughout their interactions with your company.

Each year, contact center executives gather for a few days of education on the latest innovations designed to ensure customers have a great experience. I might not meet up with Mickey from Disney, but I may get together with Alex from Norwegian Cruise Lines, an Avaya customer, and many others who are going to have a wild ride at our cool contact center demos. We’ll show customer-focused companies our latest innovations. This includes the Avaya Oceana™ Solution for contact centers, which enables you to provide a greater customer experience over every communications channel—phone, email, web, SMS, chat, and more. And Avaya Aura® Workforce Optimization, which helps you drive a better customer experience by generating relevant and timely insights from each interaction.

At our demos, we believe customer service professionals will be as excited as kids visiting Goofy. Why? With just five minutes of prep, we can put your corporate website into our Avaya Oceana contact center transformation demo. We’ll set up a live, fully functional omnichannel contact center for taking calls and chat sessions from your website. It’s like magic to see a retail website suddenly support chat and WebRTC-based voice. We show you the exact experience your customers would have. Want to add voice? Will do. How about co-browsing and secured form fill? Done. How about a custom application for the iPhone? Done and fun!

Then we’ll add in our workforce optimization tools, giving you a 360-degree view of how to move from the old world of 800 numbers to the new world of a multi-touch omnichannel contact center. It all works with all of our Avaya solutions (which are used by 90% of the Fortune 100). It’s a great ride—with no height restrictions and guaranteed to be eye opening.

Visiting an Avaya booth at any tradeshow is a unique experience for many reasons:

  • Each demonstration we do is customized. The best way to show you the power of Avaya is to give you a glimpse into what your actual solution could be. If a vendor shows a canned demo, it might be an indication that the technology is not flexible or easy to customize.
  • Each demo shows multi-touch channels in action. Click on a live representation of your company’s mobile application and it connects to an agent. Follow the experience like your customers would.
  • We show the entire customer experience. A customer journey map shows the entire customer experience so that agents can add value to previous transactions and steps. By knowing what a customer has done in the past, or what a customer tried to do, an agent can be one step ahead with a relevant response.
    If a customer chatted with an agent yesterday and places a phone call today, it’s likely that both contacts are about the same transaction. An agent can see what information was exchanged with another agent, so the current agent can continue the customer journey fluidly. It’s a great way to reduce agent time requirements, while making the customer experience more personalized.
  • We are passionate about making a difference for your business. Meet an Avaya team with years of contact center experience and dedicated to helping your company create a competitive differentiation by transforming your customer experience.

We hope to see you at the ICMI Contact Center and Exhibition in Booth 623. We’ll have you saying “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” (Did you know Microsoft Word has supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in the dictionary?)

If you can’t make it to a show, an Avaya associate or partner can demo our solutions in person or online. To schedule a demonstration at the ICMI event or at another time, please email me at blgutnick@avaya.com.