As featured in the Financial Review on 23/11/2020.
Every time a customer has an exceptional personalised experience with a brand the bar is reset higher, and the definition of what great looks like in customer experience changes for everyone. This means that continuous investment to deliver on changing experience expectations must be the norm for all organisations
COVID-19 has forced organisations to accelerate this investment and invent ways to digitally serve customers in an environment where traditional or preferred ways are no longer an option. The pace of that change has diverted significant amounts of recent digital investment towards business survival. In many cases, customers are “forced” into digital self-help channels or face long wait times to speak with a person.
“Particularly in times of crisis, a customer’s interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty,” notes a McKinsey & Company report on customer experience during COVID-19. “Keeping a real-time pulse on changing customer preferences and rapidly innovating to redesign journeys that matter … will be key.”
Organisations must now turn these investments in digital enablement into a competitive advantage by putting the customer at the centre, say experts. In doing so, they need to be purposeful in creating the element of personalisation. Indeed, personalisation was the strongest pillar driving customer loyalty in 19 of 27 markets surveyed in KPMG’s 2020 Global Customer Experience Report, which notes that using individualised attention helps drive an emotional connection.
“Demonstrating that you understand the customer’s specific needs and circumstances and will adapt the experience accordingly is now the expected norm,” the report states.
But while personalisation may be the end goal, most organisations have plenty of work to do first in simply getting the basics right.
“Too many organisations lose valuable customer leads and interactions because customers cannot get the answers they need when they need them,” says Richard Fink, CEO of customer engagement firm GSN.
“To deliver a consistently great experience at scale on every interaction requires modern, innovative technologies that seamlessly connect customers, people and processes.”
Digital enablement provides solutions to most simple questions, and with some simple steps can merge seamlessly into human touchpoints as required. Fink explains that for many tasks, customers prefer self-service.
“It makes sense that many prefer an automatic response to things such as extending time to pay, rather than having to explain challenging personal circumstances to a person. Yet, first contact resolution in self-service channels is still low in many sectors, with fewer than 50 per cent of customers having their reason for visiting satisfied in the first contact.”
GSN is an Australian-owned company at the forefront of delivering advice and customer solutions for organisations wanting to enhance their digital channels and integrate their service offerings. Once only accessible to large enterprises with sizeable IT budgets, the rapid proliferation and adoption of software as a service (SaaS) solutions put these digital capabilities within reach of every organisation.
Cloud solutions ensure customers can access the right resource – whether a person or machine – at the right time. Increasing competition has meant their innovative feature sets continue to develop with relatively low-cost entry points. Better still, Fink says, they both integrate into and scale with business demands.
“Our customers often come to us because they want to drive better value from their customer-facing channels or reduce the costs of delivery. What we can do for them goes much further. We work with businesses to understand their customer journey – opportunities and pain points – then deliver pragmatic integrated solutions that enhance the customer experience while delivering on the top and bottom line.”
GSN brings together best-in-class solutions with local development capability to deliver quick and efficient solutions. Fink says many solutions can fall short because businesses don’t personalise the customer experience beyond the first, and easiest, step. One example is the virtual agent that stops at creating the payment but doesn’t follow up with customer notifications on progress.
“Often the extra step is the difference between merely good service and differentiated, personalised service.”
Fink says there is now an opportunity to bring real connectivity across the customer journey thanks to GSN’s new suite of innovative solutions. For many organisations post-COVID-19, this means achieving the right balance between digital and voice – person and machine – and optimising the customer experience across both.
“When done well, it creates a lasting advantage, immediate financial benefits and longer-lasting customer advocacy, which correlates with future financial benefits.”
Feedback is one of the most critical aspects of any experience program, underscoring the importance of sophisticated approaches to data collection. Using artificial intelligence or machine learning combined with natural language processing enables the automation of insights, with dashboards fully customisable based on business priorities, enabling clients to focus on what’s important.
A recent partnership with MYOB saw GSN deliver the CentraCX Voice-of-the-Customer solution, enabling MYOB to collect and understand feedback across multiple customer interactions. The result was a 10 per cent increase in satisfaction.
With customer expectations continuing to increase exponentially, the solutions being created to meet these expectations are growing at an even faster pace, Fink says. “And while it might be enabled by technology, delivering a differentiated customer experience requires leadership to connect technology, people and processes.”