Avaya StaffSeptember 18, 2018

Customer Grievances Beyond the Grave: Why Experiences Matter

I recently chipped away at the issue of companies poorly incorporating voice of the customer (VoC) insights into the experiences they deliver (according to Gartner, 75% don’t believe their VoC programs are effective). It’s not a matter of if but when feedback will be shared about a company’s quality of product, service, and overall customer value. These experiences matter, and always will.

Consider the story of the world’s oldest customer complaint, which has recently gone viral. In a 3,800-year-old Babylonian tablet from the ancient Sumerian city of Ur in Mesopotamia, a man named Nanni criticizes a merchant who delivered him the wrong grade of copper. In the nearly 300-word complaint (quite long, even in today’s day and age), Nanni writes statements such as, “What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt?” and “You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.”

These common customer grievances—being treated as unimportant, having time wasted, lack of repayment/problem resolution—have remained untouched through the millennia. Take the findings from a “Customer Rage” study conducted by Dialog Direct:

  • 60% of customers cited “wasted time” as the most damaging aspect of their experience
  • 63% said they got nothing from brands they feel delivered poor service
  • 57% wanted their money back due to poor product quality or level of service, and 58% wanted to express their anger/tell their side of the story

This Babylonian tablet has been around for thousands of years solely because one customer did just that, unequivocally proving the power of VoC and the affect it can have on an organization. Experiences matter, not just for increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) but creating a positive brand impression that stands the test of time.

Same Problems, New Solutions

This nearly 4,000-year-old complaint reflects customer experience basics companies still struggle with today. And they’ll continue to considering the rising population of millennials (a 2017 SmarterHQ study shows that only 7% identify themselves as brand loyalists). This group of consumers—now the largest in history—desire experiences as unique and authentic as they are and are much more likely to stop purchasing from a company, switch brands, or post a complaint if expectations are not met.

Critical here is the transformation of business communications for strengthening customer experience and improving key service measures like CLV, Customer Satisfaction, and Net Promoter Score. For example, SmarterHQ found that if millennials think a brand communicates with them using relevant messages based on their own interests, their brand loyalty increases 7% on average.

So, what does this communications transformation look like? At Avaya, we believe it’s the seamless combination of contact center with advanced digital technologies to deliver truly meaningful experiences—experiences that matter. Here are three core pillars of this transformation:

  1. Open communications architecture
    Customers’ communication preferences vary, yet expectations remain the same. A communications platform built on open, extensible architecture is critical for delivering on the preferences of customers today and in the future (you can’t predict what lies ahead, but you must be ready to support it).
    Smart companies understand the importance of smart investments in open, future-proof communications for delivering incredible experiences that drive lasting satisfaction and loyalty. A good example of this is a free-flowing interaction application that supports all communication channels (cited by 91% of enterprises as an investment priority, according to a new study from Avaya and IDC).
  2. Embedded communications
    This is the future of customer experience: the ability to build custom, communication-enabled services that deliver the exact experiences customers want while amplifying employee experiences with better knowledge management, decision-making, relationship-building and problem-solving.
    Consider the impact of embedded communications in an industry like healthcare: upon hitting the “code red” button on the screen of his or her mobile device, a nurse can automatically generate workflows to the nearest available doctor to assist with resuscitation as well as the operating staff to stand by for possible emergency surgery. Unified communications is no longer enough. Embedding communications directly into processes, apps and workflows enables companies to deliver experiences that are more purposeful, intentional and outcome-driven.
  3. Contextual analytics + AI
    Every experience differs depending on the circumstance, and that’s why companies must gain a context-driven understanding of customer preferences, expectations and aversions. This goes back to the importance of an open communications platform, which can rapidly integrate various information sources to present a 360-degree view of the customer (a.k.a. contextual analytics). But it goes beyond this: companies must quickly and intelligently bring this immense amount of information together to make smart, real-time decisions—something human beings are incapable of doing. That’s where AI, machine learning and contextual analytics seamlessly join. Avaya VP and Chief Technologist Jean Turgeon excellently elaborates on this concept here (a great read that’s worth the extra few minutes).

VoC translates into critical interactions that either positively or negatively affect the value of customers throughout their life (and beyond). Who knows: 4,000 years from now the world could unearth customer feedback from the year 2018 about your organization. What would those sentiments say about your legacy? Would they confirm that your experiences matter, or no?