Five factors to simplify customer experience

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has transformed customers into fickle buyers. Extensive digitization has indeed changed the way we live, work and play, and there are a plethora of positives, including that it has given us, the customers, significant power. To see this in action, we don’t need to look past the impact a single tweet can have on an organization’s customer experience (CX) strategy.

With fickle customers and the threat of reputation risk constantly looming, simplification of CX becomes critical. Consider that:

  • Customers are well informed about the market and finding alternatives is easier than ever; whether it’s changing banks or telcos, all it takes is a few clicks for the customer to ditch your brand for the promise of another. The competitive landscape fosters innovation, but it also makes many customers less loyal.
  • Customers expect requests to be instantly fulfilled. Even the notion of sitting on hold is enough to send today’s customers screaming, and that comes down to the digital era of convenience, where instant gratification is assumed.
  • Customers expect agents to be fully informed about their journeys – no matter if it’s a real person or a bot – in order to customize every communication to their context.
  • With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), automation and digital adoption, customers expect their experiences to be the same across all channels. Moreover, they expect organizations to provide the ‘human touch’ or assisted service proactively and when needed, rather than forcing them to engage in a specific way. And the organizations that fail to provide this level of simplicity and consistency may encounter displeased customers exhausted by linear chatbots.
  • Customers assume organizations are up to speed with the latest technologies, and have developed an appetite for best-of-breed products and services. With the bar set high by tech-savvy consumers and easy access to technology options, organizations are faced with the challenge of combining what they sell with a compelling experience.

This evolution in customer behaviors and expectations has led many organizations – including some of the world’s most prominent brands – to implement new strategies that will leave a good impression, and these strategies all hinge on making it easier to deal with the organizations. After all, 2018 research from Davies Hickman Partners, conducted for Avaya, found 63 percent of consumers around the world indicated that convenience is more important than price. The same study, titled SuperServe, indicated that 79 percent want an immediate response.

So how can you simplify? Based on our discussions with organizations around the world, the right dose of each of the below ingredients is essential for simple customer experience:

  1. Products and services: This is where it all starts. Organizations at the forefront of their respective industries have invested in not only pushing out new products, but ensuring those products and services are more customized and easier-to-use. As a result, they have established a value proposition that aligns to existing expectations and predicts future demands. Those organizations have secured their customers’ loyalty and earned themselves a sustainable customer engagement model.
  2. Back-office and processes: When we engage with organizations to map a CX vision, we often find the back-office operation is overlooked – almost neglected – as all eyes focus on the customer only. This can be detrimental because the back-office, and the processes that keep it humming, are key to ensuring customer engagement is simple.

Any back-office should be digitally-streamlined and automated. As the digital economy continues to expand, organizations need to evaluate how they can incorporate robotic process automation to alleviate agents of repetitive and menial tasks, and consequently accelerate handling times. These processes must be coupled with case management to queue efficiently, distribute smartly and report on back-office service levels.

  1. The agent and supervisor: Another critical component of a simplified CX strategy involves agent and supervisor augmentation, alongside instant access to contextual information. Organizations need to establish a unified workspace in which agents have real-time access to the customer context, including historical information, product knowledge and next-step suggestions. Once agents are better equipped to manage the behaviors of today’s customers, resolutions will occur much faster.
  2. The Customer Journey: How often do you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and test the journey you have designed for them? Is it solving their issues and providing the required support at right time?

There are two fundamental principles that underpin a simple, compelling customer journey:

  1. Building a journey that drives measurable problem solving and/or business outcomes.
  2. Finding the right balance between automation and assisted services, and intelligently adding a human touchpoint to the journey.
  1. The technology: While this point is assumed – after all, the global economy inherently relies on technology in this era – simplifying CX relies on empowering the technology arm of an organization to cater to the agile business. To achieve this, companies need:
    1. Open APIs: to increase the value of information systems and platforms by integrating them to drive business requirements; and
    2. Cloud: an essential factor in simplifying deployment (ie. faster go-to-market), ensuring effortless and continuous support, and catering for demand-based growth.

Avaya continues to analyze the state of CX and provide tools for best practices in simplifying your customer journey to maximize long-term loyalty. And we continue to work closely with our strategic partners, customers and others to drive simplicity and effectively execute distinct use cases for the five factors highlighted above.

After all, in the words of the late Steve Jobs, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

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