SOCAP International

Understanding the Future of Customer Experience

How will customer experience strategies, technologies and professionals adapt to the changing demands of today’s consumer? This whitepaper will examine several aspects of CX that are likely to evolve in the very near future.

The Future is Now

How will customer experience strategies, technologies and professionals adapt to the changing demands of today’s consumer? This whitepaper will examine several aspects of CX that are likely to evolve in the very near future.

You Must Adapt to Survive

Much like customers of old, today’s consumers want you to know who they are, that you can help them and that you value their business. However, in the modern age of smartphones, unlimited texting and continual access to the internet, consumers have become increasingly impatient in their dealings with product and service providers. When an issue arises, consumers wants answers, and they want them now.

In this environment, engaging and maintaining customers becomes increasingly difficult. Not only must your organization offer a quality service or good, you must also provide an excellent experience whenever interacting with your customers.

As the demand for more immediate information grows, and consumers’ expectations of quality customer service endure, companies must adjust their approach to meet these changing mandates.

As the demands of the consumer change, so too must the approach companies take to provide an enjoyable and satisfying customer experience from the point of sale throughout the life of ownership or service. That may be easier said than done, however, as many organizations lack the technology, talent and strategy planning capabilities to adjust to meet the demands of the modern consumer.

The Consumer of Tomorrow

Examining the various traits of the modern consumer, as well as the consumer of tomorrow, is the first step in identifying opportunities to improve CX strategies.

The modern consumer possesses many traits that impact interactions with product or service providers. The average consumer is:
  • Eager
    Consumers who encounter issues or questions want answers quickly. Forcing a consumer to wait for resolutions often results in an unsatisfied customer. Conversely, providing swift and helpful answers increases satisfaction and loyalty in the long term.
  • Engaged
    Modern consumers are passionate about many things, including engaging with organizations that they identify with or respect. The more opportunities you can offer for engagement, the better your chances of gaining and retaining loyal customers.
  • Versatile
    Today’s consumer utilizes any number of communication methods when searching for assistance. From email correspondence to online chats, text conversations to video calls, the modern consumer explores many communications methods other than the telephone.
  • Informed
    The wealth of information available has given consumers the ability to research any product, service or issue. This knowledge is put to good use when considering a purchase, and when dealing with an issue down the road.
  • Vocal
    Social media outlets have given consumers a platform on which to share their experiences with a product, service or company. Both satisfied and dissatisfied consumers freely exchange knowledge and experiences, helping other consumers to make decisions.

Despite their knowledge and awareness, consumers have yet to realize the power they have to influence the future of CX. In coming years, consumers will realize the influence they have over customer experience strategies, and will begin to pressure organizations with sub-par CX to catch up to the crowd.

Investing in the Future

While it was once viewed as a secondary aspect of an organization, CX has moved to the forefront of many companies’ operations and future goals. In recent years, more and more organizations have invested heavily in contact centers and customer experience supporting employees. This trend is likely to continue as organizations designate budgetary funds to a wide range of CX improvements, including:
  • Technology
    From hardware to software, technology upgrades will account for a large part of CX spending in the coming years. Maintaining the ability to interact with customers in numerous ways requires various systems, databases and interfaces, all requiring continual maintenance and upgrade.
  • Training
    Employee skills training will continue to be a focus of many organizations. Designating budget towards employee training and education may improve customer experience and satisfaction, leading to an increase in loyalty and consumer engagement.
  • Strategy
    Enhancing customer experience will require extensive planning and strategizing. Exploring new strategies will be imperative to continual evolution of customer engagement.
  • Analytics
    Analytical software and solutions will play a large role in gauging the effectiveness of CX strategies and investments. Tracking customer interactions, satisfaction, and the overall effectiveness of the CX team will provide an accurate view of ROI, while helping to pinpoint potential areas of improvement.

 

Riding the Technological Wave

Technological advancements occur at lightning speed, which is fortunate for organizations attempting to adapt to the changing demands of consumers. In the coming years, it is likely that organizations will invest heavily in a wide range of technologies, including:

  • Software Integration
    Streamlining the CX process is a goal shared among many organizations. Combining different software applications in the contact center environment offers agents the power needed to address customer concerns quickly, and effectively.
  • Enhanced CRM utilization
    Organizations that operate busy contact centers, likely employ some form of CRM solution, but may not use it to its full potential. Integrating the CRM with a CIC solution puts agents in full control of customer contacts and communication. Armed with the information contained within the CRM, the agent can more effectively manage interactions and find resolutions to customer issues, thereby improving the customer’s experience and overall satisfaction.
  • Multi-channel communication
    Many organizations currently offer multiple channels by which customers can seek information or resolutions to issues. As new communication channels continue to emerge, organizations will need to invest in the infrastructure needed to handle these new modes of communication.
  • Video capabilities
    While some organizations have already begun to offer video interactions with consumers, the majority have yet to make the leap. In the near future, video conference calls will become a near-necessity for organizations looking to maximize the customer experience.
  • Sentiment analysis
    Determining the attitude of a current or potential customer by examining spoken or written interactions can be difficult. As sentiment analysis technology improves, more and more organizations will implement strategies to gain insight into the
    emotional state of their customers and target audiences.
  • IVR
    The continual improvement of interactive voice response systems is vital to the ongoing success of any such program. The more intuitive and responsive the IVR program becomes, the better consumer interaction and engagement becomes.
  • Web analytics
    Maintaining a competitive advantage in your market requires a detailed understanding of your customers and audience. Tracking and examining their interactions with your website and other means of communication offers invaluable insight into their communication preferences. This data is also useful in pinpointing and improving weak areas in your CX.
  • Personalized content
    Organizations have a very short time to make an impression on customers. Any time spent on the web NOT looking at content that is targeted to their interests is time wasted. Customer data and experience profiles gleaned from analytics efforts can be used to personalize nearly every aspect of the user experience.
  • Engagement optimization
    By gathering the right data, organizations can segment their markets into groups, thereby making it possible to measure the engagement value of a marketing campaign. By tracking engagement value organizations can determine which campaigns are working and which are not. In addition, the organization can evaluate what might be wrong with a campaign and address its weaknesses.
  • Tracking interactions
    Analytics data sheds light on how users enter an organization’s website, as well as content they might have viewed prior to their visit. This information can be used to tailor the user experience to the consumer’s needs and interests, making for an even more compelling experience.

Implemented properly, each of these technologies has the power to improve interactions with customers and create additional avenues for engagement.


Adopting Enhanced CX Strategies

Exploring new and unconventional strategies for engaging customers is vital to the continued growth and success of any CX program. As telephone interactions become less and less the norm, organizations must explore other strategies to engage customers, including:

  • Social media
    The rise of social media has created an opportunity for customer engagement like never before. Organizations can now share news, ideas and technical assistance to large audiences. Unfortunately, social media is a double-edged sword, as the
    medium gives unsatisfied customers a place to vent frustrations for all to see. An effective social media strategy will include engagement plans, as well as service recovery processes.
  • Crowdsourcing
    The emergence of smart-device apps, blogging platforms and forums has made crowdsourcing a large part of the future of CX. Encouraging consumers to share their experiences, opinions and concerns with peers creates an environment in which purchasing decisions can be made with real-time knowledge.
  • Proactive customer care
    Engaging customers prior to issues arising will likely become a common practice in the near future. Creating and building a relationship with customers helps to improve loyalty and satisfaction, and may be the key to avoiding issues with a product or service.
  • Innovative self-service
    Offering consumers the opportunity to resolve issues or find answers without assistance will help to alleviate their concerns, as well as the strain on your contact center. To be truly effective, however, any self service imitative must be comprehensive, easy-to-use and continually updated.
  • Service recovery process
    Handling an issue well increases loyalty, and actually offers a second sales opportunity. An effective service recovery strategy includes following up on issues to address the root cause, and avoiding similar problems in the future. Improving service recovery strategies will go far in maintaining customers, despite any issues that may arise.
  • CX on a continuum
    It has become increasingly apparent that consumers consider the sum of all interactions with an organization when determining loyalty and satisfaction, rather than basing their decision on a single point in time. This has many organizations creating strategies that take into account the ebb and flow of satisfaction; where once a customer’s satisfaction may have seemed unrecoverable, opportunities now exist to regain that customer’s loyalty and support. Carefully plotted dynamic interactions to address issues are vital to ensuring customer satisfaction in the long-term.

CX strategies will continue to evolve with consumer personalities and technology, making it important to invest in the continual exploration of engagement methods.

Leveraging Talent

As technologies and strategies evolve, so must the people implementing them; a dedicated team with proper staffing and leadership is the most significant parameter needed for success. In short, enhanced training for customer service management and employees will play a vital role in the evolution of CX.

To be effective in the future, CX employees will require a wide range of hard and soft
skills, including:

  • Communication skills
    Being able to talk with customers on the phone isn’t the only skill CX employees need. The CX representative of tomorrow will need to be able to communicate with customers via a wide range of channels, and must be able to gather and interpret
    information quickly and effectively.
  • Technology aptitude
    The contact center of tomorrow will rely upon a wide range of technology, from powerful software to video conferencing equipment. CX employees must have the ability to interact with complex technology on a daily basis.
  • Creative
    As customers continue to demand swift issue resolutions and instant answers and it becomes harder and harder to grab their attention, CX employees must be able to solve problems in logical and creative ways. CX employees must be able to consider the many details of a situation and brainstorm strategies to find ways to engage and interact with consumers.
  • Conflict Resolution
    Customers who encounter issues with a product or service may become frustrated and angry. CX employees must have the patience and flexibility to communicate with argumentative customers while attempting to resolve the customer’s issue.
  • A proactive approach
    To offer the best possible customer experience, employees must be proactive in their communications and their issue resolution efforts. The more proactive an employee becomes, the more effective they become at engaging customers and handling issues quickly and effectively.

 

Are you prepared?

As consumers grow more knowledgeable, and powerful, it is vital that your organization adapt to offer the customer service and experience they demand. Consider the approach your organization takes to customer experience and customer interactions. Are your current strategies, technologies and employees up to the task of interacting with the consumer of tomorrow? If you find weaknesses in your CX efforts, it may be time to begin planning for the future, today.


Avtex helps companies improve their technology and processes to deliver an exceptional customer experience through their 360° approach. Avtex identifies and recommends solutions to address your most complex customer challenges and opportunities. We design innovative approaches to your most pressing customer needs – people, processes, and technologies by using the power of our combined expertise. Together we will make marked improvements in overall satisfaction and help you become an organization that is easier to do business with.
Visit www.avtex.com for more information.