To improve customer experience, contact centers must reduce customer effort. They must create customer touchpoints—interactions with the brand—that are entirely frictionless.
Omnichannel technology, which enables customers to communicate with brands through their preferred channels, is an important digital step toward reducing friction and improving customer experience.
But meeting customers’ rapidly escalating expectations requires more than omnichannel tech. Data and emerging analytics technologies are uniquely capable of significantly reducing effort.
So how do you do it?
First, Identify Customer Preferences
Contact centers must move away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to a “personalized” approach. Personalization is the key to a low effort customer experience because it enables you to give customers more of what they actually want, and less of what they don’t.
Your customers are different so treating them all the same won’t work. You need to treat customers as unique individuals, but you can’t personalize their experience unless you’ve first identified their unique preferences. Emerging analytics technologies can leverage all your available data—demographic, transactional, customer behavior, etc,—to pinpoint exactly what will make them happiest, and generate the best response, in a wide range of scenarios, with an incredibly high-degree of accuracy.
And the more data you have available, the more accurate and comprehensive your understanding of customer preferences will be.
Second, Tailor Each Touchpoint
Once you know each customer’s preferences, you can begin to treat them differently by tailoring each touchpoint to their liking, making customer experience as frictionless as possible. In the contact center environment, there are a few important aspects, or dimensions, of experience where you can focus your tailoring efforts to achieve big returns.
Delivering the Right Channels
Contact centers must move from a “multi-channel” approach to the “right channel” approach by encouraging communications through the channels they prefer.
The problem with a multi-channel approach is that, while there are many different ways a customer can contact you, not all channels are created equal given a specific customer with a specific inquiry.
Customers have different preferences for different channels. For example, one elderly customer might feel most comfortable talking directly to an agent over the phone for all matters. Another customer might prefer self-serve for basic questions, chat for all other communication, and email only when all other channels have failed.
Once you’ve identified these preferences for channels using data, you can guide—and even incentivize—customers toward the channel that will deliver the best customer experience for them. For example, when a customer with a preference for talking to an agent is struggling to find what they need on the website, your website can redirect them to an agent. And, if you need to reach out to a customer, you can initiate contact using the channel they favor.
Delivering the Right Offers
Contact centers must also move from a “blanket selling” approach to a “value creation” approach by giving each customer the offer that will be most compelling to them, while also maximizing return for the brand.
For years, sales and marketing practitioners have understood that spraying a single offer at a large crowd made up of different people simply does not work.
Customers respond to offers differently based on a variety of factors. For example, customers that purchased a particular product are very likely to buy a complementary product if offered, while customers with other products won’t. And, some customers will extend their contract if they are offered 30% off, while others will find an offer of 2-months free—a promo with equivalent value to 30% off—much more compelling.
When you know what offers—cross-sell, upsell, promotions—will be most effective for every one of your unique customers, then you can focus your sales and marketing initiatives—whether delivered through the website, app, text, chat, email, or phone—on just those messages that will move the needle and create value for the customer and the business.
Deliver the Right Solutions
Contact centers must move from a “blanket solution” approach to a “right solution” approach by offering the guidance and solutions that are most likely to be effective for each individual customer.
Just as one single offer isn’t right for all customers, one single solution isn’t right for all customers either.
When a customer indicates they have an unmet need —by visiting the website, calling you, reaching out through social media, etc.—there are solutions you can offer that will be more effective than others, based on what their inquiry is about, and their specific preferences.
You could know what a customer is likely calling about, and how to best resolve it for them, before you even speak, based on the date you have, including but not limited to, purchase history, geography, and recent interactions with the brand’s website and mobile app.
Contact centers need to move from a “reactive” to a “proactive” approach by delivering the right channels, the right offers, and the right solutions to customers before they can even ask.
If you wait long enough, customers will tell you what they want, but they won’t feel they’re getting the best experience possible.
Customers have preferences, but going to the trouble to express them does requires some effort. What customers really want is for companies to be able to understand and anticipate needs, and fulfill them before they’re ever voiced.
This is where emerging analytics technologies adds tremendous value. Not only can data tell you what customers have, and have not preferred, in the past. But it can tell you what customers will likely prefer in the future so you can essentially read customers’ minds.
Because customer expectations are always escalating, it’s imperative that you provide increasingly frictionless experiences, incrementally improving each touchpoint.
You won’t maintain customer loyalty in the face of steep competition by resting on your laurels. You have to reach for better and better all the time.
Data and analytics help you make that continuous improvement. As touchpoints accrue, and more data is collected, it will become even clearer what channels, offers, and solutions should be delivered to each customer to minimize effort and maximize satisfaction.
How will you reduce customer effort?