TP Talks Webinar: Curating The Customer Experience | USA
Customer Experience

The most recent TP Talks webinar took place a few days ago featuring a great discussion on curating the customer experience (CX). Katrina Menzigian, Vice President, CX Research Services, at Everest Group and Juan Manuel González, Research Director, Digital Transformation at Frost & Sullivan offered their insights on customer experience strategy and how curating the experience has become so important.

I opened the session by asking about the wave of new channels companies need to handle today. How should brands manage so many digital channels in an environment that is always changing?

Katrina explained: “This is a question that many organizations are asking – what can we do now? Every leader needs to look across the people, processes, and technologies in their business as they pivot from the current operation to more automation and digital technologies. But nothing is possible without a realistic mapping of where you are today – especially current skill sets and the future skill set requirements.”

Juan added his views on how CX has also redefined the problem. He said: “There is also a big shift in power from business to consumers. Many business leaders realize that they need to place CX at the top of their priority list. At Frost & Sullivan believe there are three ‘Cs’ that are really important. The first is Context, so you should know exactly what the customer is saying and why – including previous interactions. If you lack context then mistakes can be made. Continuity is required because without continuity the context breaks down. Convenience is also important because all customers look for this, but applying the right context in a continual way should in fact lead to a convenient service.”

I outlined research from the Teleperformance CX Lab that indicated how 78% of customers we interviewed indicated a preference for a real human when contacting a company. The customers still want humans to help them when they call a customer service number. With some many brands exploring automation and bots where does human interaction still fit in?

Juan believes that humans are still essential. He said: “We believe that humans remain a key part of the CX equation. We know that humans will at some point reach our limits. We need to increase the flexibility and speed that customers can be served at so bots will also help humans. Automation is crucial for productivity, but these tools are only effective when leveraged effectively by humans. Automation is key, but humans are irreplaceable.”

Katrina agreed that humans remain an essential ingredient for a great experience. She explained: “We have all explored these questions [around automation] for efficiency and cost, but we know that humans prefer communicating with humans. Some channels are better than others though. We need the ability to have a conversation with a human where that person is aware of the context of your conversation so there is a balance for optimal outcomes – smarter IVRs and also smarter humans.”

This is where I believe it’s not that technology is about replacing people, but it is supporting the customer service team and helping them to do a better job. But as customers create a more complex support environment, such as asking brands to support them simultaneously on voice and digital channels, how can brands manage this omnichannel environment?

Juan thought that we were just focusing on the problems. He said: “There is no question that omnichannel is changing support and there are some challenges, but also opportunities. Look at multi-modal support where customers might start a video-chat session in the middle of a web self-service interaction. If a customer escalates their own interaction from self-service to agent help we need to be ready to optimize the experience.” He added: “Agents need to be supported with much better desktops, so in turn they can support customers better.”

But Katrina sounded a cautious note: “A lot of organizations are still struggling with how to even begin their omnichannel path. They are pulled in different directions with different initiatives. The really need to assess what is going well, what can they build on, and what are the biggest gaps. Often a thorough analysis can find gaps that they did not anticipate and cannot easily see.”

Katrina added an important point – once your support goes omnichannel you probably need to connect up various areas of the business that were not previously working with your contact center. She said: “Leadership and team management often needs to change for omnichannel. Depending on your industry your actual customer experience may well be outside the contact center so you need to think about how to connect those different areas, especially when planning how to go from contact center to in-person support.”

Given the complexities of engaging with customers in an omnichannel environment it seems logical that a service provider, with the requisite infrastructure, process, technology, and governance can be of great value. I asked Katrina and Juan for their views on their view on how a partner can help curate this experience.

Katrina said that there is a genuine opportunity: “The contact center providers have an opportunity to rethink a number of areas of their engagement. This is difficult because you need to keep on serving customers today, but clients need to get a broader perspective on the wider marketplace. Clients should be demanding this from their service provider – what should I know about that would help me up my game?”

Katrina also mentioned that there is greater customer demand today based on experience of different industries. For example a utility customer will ask why they receive such poor service when compared to their favorite retailer – that’s a new challenge for everyone.

Juan went on to explain further: “This digital era is an era of convergence. The tech and service industry is facing new challenges and market forces. In this more competitive scenario companies really should assess their alliances and relationships to find a more effective monetization of opportunities.”

Both analysts agreed that the omnichannel environment features new rules and service providers can offer expertise in curating the CX that is difficult to locate in-house. The bottom line today is that customers have a greater expectation of good service across all industries and it is incumbent on us to help curate this experience for them.

To listen to the TP Talks webinar in full please click this link and to download the Curating the Customer Experience eBook please click here.

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