Taking the Shopping Experience to the Next Level

I know that it’s only November, and we are not ready to see Christmas tree decorations on the shelf or holiday music in the mall. While we consumers might not be ready for Christmas, retailers certainly are.

Deloitte just issued the results of their 29th annual holiday survey, which polled more than 5,000 consumers in the U.S. and highlighted a few items of interest for retailers, such as:

  • Some 69 percent of tablet owners plan to use their tablets for holiday shopping. Approximately 65 percent plan to shop/browse online while 57 percent expect to make purchases
  • Deloitte forecasts that 50 percent of retail store sales will be influenced by digital interactions, including use of desktop and laptop computers, tablets and smartphones
  • More than 61 percent of consumers surveyed expect store associates to be knowledgeable about products, and help speed up transactions

One way that Avaya believes you can merge online and store associate experience is through the delivery of a personalized customer experience using the power of video. In the YouTube link below, you will see how Avaya combines the power of video with store associates to save a shopper’s holiday party:

Learn more about Avaya’s customer experience management solutions here.

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A Prison Partnership That’s Changing Lives with Intention and Compassion

As someone who passionately advocates for female empowerment and corporate social responsibility (CSR), you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to visit the Phoenix-based contact center of B2B lead generation agency Televerde. I had been familiar with Televerde as a sales and marketing solutions company, but I soon found out it’s so much more. Four of Televerde’s five contact centers in Phoenix are employed entirely by women incarcerated at Perryville-Arizona State Prison Complex. Here’s what I experienced during my recent visit.

Stepping Inside a Prisoner-Run Contact Center

The unsettling experience of entering a prison complex was immediately brightened by the smiling faces of Televerde’s contact center employees. Behind these smiles were infectious personalities, positive outlooks and ambitious attitudes that permeated the four walls of the facility. Underneath each woman’s classic orange jumpsuit was a deep propensity for learning, the kind that many organizations now consider their “steel bridge.”

Keeping this in mind, it didn’t surprise me to learn that 25% of these women continue to work with Televerde after they’re released from prison. Even more impressive, about half of Televerde’s Phoenix corporate office employees came from Perryville. Working in departments like IT, marketing, finance and HR, these women are qualified and educated with a GED at minimum. In fact, with Televerde’s support, numerous ladies have gone on to complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and one Televerde alumna received her M.B.A. at Arizona State University and now heads the customer service organization, globally.

In conjunction with the two contact center managers appointed by Televerde to supervise the facility, these women were clearly helping to successfully run the operation. As I observed the contact center in action, I could see one woman acting as head of training. Another worked as a sales primer. These women were writing scripts, handling calls and managing data just like any other organization. They engaged in friendly conversations before starting their shifts. Each employee worked fluently and expertly in what looked like any other call center in the world.

TELEVERDE

I had the privilege of sitting down and speaking with these incredible women, where I learned more about who they were and how they came into this business. Each woman met Televerde’s work eligibility requirements: a sentence of 10 years or less for a non-violent crime, a specific level of phone articulation and personality skills, and at least six weeks of training. Each woman is paid a minimum wage for eight-hour shifts. In addition to training, Televerde supports these women by offering educational opportunities, mentorship, and career building skills as they transition out of prison.

It didn’t take long for me to see that this group of women had profound ideas about business, social responsibility, and female empowerment. Each of the women I sat with had far-reaching career goals. They desired to excel by continually developing their interpersonal and technology skills. They had countless questions about how to launch a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). As a female CMO working in the male-dominated tech industry, I was honored to help these women develop a foundation upon which they could continue to build.

Getting to the Heart of Operations (Literally)

My experience at the Perryville-Arizona State Prison Complex can be summed up in one question an employee asked during our group conversation: “Did your impression of us change when you came in and saw us in our jumpsuits?”

These dedicated women were noticeably concerned about what others thought of them. They wanted to be accepted and respected, despite the poor decisions they’ve made in the past. Televerde reminds these women daily that just because they’ve made poor choices doesn’t mean they are bad people. The organization’s unique rehabilitation and education model allows us to see ourselves in these women. In showing compassion, empathy and respect, Televerde pulls back the curtain to reveal who these women really are. They are indeed convicts, but they are also part of the 14 million Americans who desire a full-time job. They’re flourishing members of today’s growing labor market. They’re hard-working, forward-thinking individuals who simply arrive to work in a different uniform than you and I do.

The benefits of this movement are astronomical. Televerde is helping to actively lower the rate of jobless individuals with a prison record, which is currently as high as 60%. The organization is empowering women by helping them determine what kind of leaders they want to be as they work to complete their sentences. The brand is reversing the psychological effects of U.S. penitentiaries that drive so many back to prison. Above all, however, Televerde’s mission serves as a critical reminder of the things we all must be constantly aware and in pursuit of: compassion, intention, kindness and respect.

TELEVERDE

We hear how companies need to go above and beyond for their customers, staff and communities at large. To me, there’s no better way to do this than by showing compassion and respect as an organization. Despite today’s rapid pace of innovation, the best way to connect and drive change is to simply be human. Imagine the profound global impact of more organizations understanding and embracing this sentiment. At the end of the day, we’re all in need of some help. We’re all in this together.

When it comes to corporate social responsibility, Televerde is walking the talk. For that, I give the brand a standing ovation. Learn more about Televerde’s mission.

3 CX Stats That May Change How You Think About Digital Transformation

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, automation, big data, and the Internet of Things have made digital transformation an absolute necessity for organizations. With people, processes, services and things more dynamically connected than ever, companies are feeling relentless pressure to digitize, simplify, and integrate their organizational structures to remain competitive.

But there’s a big hole in the fabric of most digital transformation (DX) plans: the customer experience (CX). The problem isn’t that companies fail to understand the importance of the CX in relation to digital transformation. Rather, most fail to understand their customers well enough to envision a truly customer-centric, digitally-transformed environment. Just consider that 55% of companies cite “evolving customer behaviors and preferences” as their primary driver of digital change. Yet, the number one challenge facing executives today is understanding customer behavior and impact.

A massive part of digital transformation involves building a CX strategy, and yet customer centricity remains a top challenge for most. In fact, I encourage you to be your own customer within your organization. Walk in your customers’ shoes, contact your organization as your customers would. What was your web experience? Was the expert knowledgeable during a chat conversation? How well did the mobile app work for you? Did you have a connected experience? Given your experience, how brand-loyal would you be to your organization?

Here are three statistics that will get you rethinking your CX strategy in relation to digital transformation:

  1. 52% of companies don’t share customer intelligence outside of the contact center. In other words, over half of companies are limiting the customer journey to the contact center even though it naturally takes place across multiple key areas of business (i.e., sales, marketing, HR, billing). Businesses must ensure customers are placed with the right resource at the right time, whether it’s in a contact center or non-contact center environment. The key is being able to openly share customer data across all teams, processes and customer touchpoints.
  2. 60% of digital analytics investments will be spent on customer journey analytics by 2018. Customer journey analytics—the process of measuring the end-to-end customer journey across the entire organization—is critical in today’s smart, digital world. Companies are rapidly investing in this area to identify opportunities for process improvement, digitization, automation and, ultimately, competitive differentiation.
  3. 60% of customers change their contact channel depending on where they are and what they’re doing. This means organizations must focus less on service and more on contextual and situational awareness. Businesses must work to create a seamless experience—regardless of device, channel, location or time—supported by customer, business and situational context captured across all touchpoints.

The CX should influence every company’s digital transformation story. For more tips, insights, and impactful statistics check out our eBook, Fundamentals of Digital Transformation. Let me know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you.

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.