By Karen Waters, Product Director at Engage Hub.
Providing the ultimate customer experience is a key element of any organisation’s strategy to compete with online rivals, retain market share and achieve a recurring profit year on year. Brands that deliver the best customer experience achieve 54 percent higher revenue growth, according to a KPMG Global Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) report.
In turn, organisations are seeking help via the latest technologies. Investment in automation – from procurement and fulfilment to marketing and customer care – is on the rise and it has been reported that customer experience needs will drive AI Investment to $5 billion by 2019 across European industries. The data that automation can collate and analyse, as well as the processes it can carry out without human interaction, allows customer experience teams to focus their time more efficiently.
It’s become a mantra for businesses: “We need to enhance the customer experience by being more personalised.” But there’s a conundrum; they need to achieve this at scale, cost effectively. There’s general recognition that automation is key to solving this conundrum, but given that almost 70% of all CRM projects fail to achieve their expected objectives, how can businesses build automation into their customer processes and what should they automate?
Understanding the importance of connected customer journeys, we have explored how businesses can deliver a consistent experience across every touchpoint in a recent report, the findings of which have presented three key steps to deciding which customer journey processes should be automated.
Step 1: Collect information from across the business and market to understand challenges
Firstly, brands must understand their customers and processes before implementing technology. This means analysing data from across departments to ensure an evidence-based approach to investing in automation.
On the customer side, this involves looking at the quantitative and qualitative data from call recordings, Net Promoter Score (NPS) results and any feedback from customer-facing agents and employees. This holistic approach will help companies understand the front-line perspective and identify where challenges lie, so they can hone in on areas that need refining. For instance, brands can gain insights into the call times, call centre costs and the evolution of customer satisfaction scores across channels.
Expanding the scope of data collected, brands should also look at what their direct competitors and the wider market are doing to gauge rising trends in customer service and interactions. For instance, online retailers are increasingly providing their customers with the option of one-click orders. This allows for a swifter and frictionless online shopping experience so companies within the sector must match, if not exceed, the customer expectations set by this offering. No two businesses operate in the same way, but this will help companies see what the competition is offering and therefore understand what the customer experience is like outside their bubble.
Step 2: Map your customer journeys to identify where automation will add the greatest value
Once the challenges have been identified, brands can look at the wider process feeding into those areas. Depending on the results of the data analysis, this may involve looking at an entire department, such as the call centre, or a specific process, such as customer activation.
Brands should then map out these processes identified from end to end, looking at the technology, touchpoints and teams involved. This will give them clarity on how the customer is affected – as well as what customers prefer – and how their resources are used at each stage. A recent McKinsey survey found that most customers want both human and digital interactions when making a purchase and offering a choice of channel when it comes to communication can create another level of personalisation that appeals to customers and helps build loyalty.
Companies can then see which processes will benefit most from automation – where they’ll see the most value in terms of improved customer experience and operational efficiency.
Step 3: Test and measure
Identifying suitable processes to automate doesn’t mean that brands should rush to automate everything at once. Instead they should begin by testing their hypothesis with a specific customer journey, or part of a journey. This will allow them to understand and measure improvement, and single out the bottlenecks that customers may be facing, so that any issues can be resolved before a full roll-out.
Going full-circle, companies should then link the results back to the data gathered at the beginning of the project, making sure the objectives are being met. Using the metrics identified to create real-time feedback loops can enable organisations to remain focused on what the automation technology must deliver. This way they can see which processes are most beneficial – and can commence targeted automation to ensure seamless customer experience. In one instance, by gathering deep insights into their customers’ journeys, Sainsbury’s was able to streamline 30% of inbound calls to self-service channels, resulting in a reduced number of missed calls and a direct increase in customer satisfaction.
By following these simple steps, brands can streamline their approach to automating their customer processes and avoid rushing into automation projects that may end up doing more harm than good. As competition across sectors increases, the answer lies in listening closely to what the customer has to say, and then enabling seamless and personalised customer journeys to meet their needs.