A topic at the forefront of many business conversations today has to do with customer experience (CX). More people are shopping and seeking remote support vs. an in-person experience. This trend has greatly accelerated during the pandemic. Aside from financial incentives, the next best method for attracting and maintaining customers is improving CX and providing a more “frictionless” experience.
Customers today aren’t as much comparing the CX amongst competitors in a market niche as they are their CX with all their encounters across all markets. Using AI-based technology like natural language processing (NLP), biometric authentication, and digital interaction companies, have tools to “up their game.” Here are examples of two winners and one loser in my personal CX review.
Winner: The Insurance Company
To get a license plate for your vehicle where I live, you need to go to a “license and tag” shop. When I visited recently, the person asked for proof of insurance. My card was expired, and I had yet to place the new one in the car. In years past, this would’ve involved a lengthy episode on the phone with the insurance carrier, or worse yet, a trip back home. Instead, when I called the insurance company, they recognized me by my cell number, and a virtual agent asked about my inquiry. It confirmed my proof of insurance card request and asked if there was a fax machine nearby. There was, and within 60 seconds, the document fluttered on top of the tray. The entire interaction took less than 90 seconds and never involved a live agent.
Winner: The Airlines
Back when we used to travel, I constantly called the airlines. This scenario usually involved me providing my frequent mileage awards number, weaving through an interactive voice response (IVR) menu, and then a lengthy wait for a live agent. Sometimes I needed immediate support, and this was frustrating. That has changed. The last time I called, a virtual agent immediately answered, welcomed me by name. It also asked if I was calling about my flight that day. My interaction took a fraction of the time I was used to, and again it required no live agent.
These two examples illustrate a win-win for the customer and the company. We both save time, and my brand loyalty continues.
Loser: The Retailer (Gift Shop)
I wanted to order some gift baskets for my employees, so I called a company in that business. I was informed of a long-expected wait time and to visit the website. I remained on-hold and checked it out. While waiting, I put an order together but needed to understand how to have one sent to multiple addresses or find out if I needed to take the painstaking step of creating multiple orders. The website wasn’t intuitive, so I looked for the chat box, figuring this was a simple question that could easily be answered by a chatbot or chat agent. I asked my question and received information about completely unrelated topics. When I communicated that this wasn’t helpful, the system told me to wait for a live chat agent (meanwhile, I’m still on hold). After several minutes it responded that due to high volume, chat service was unavailable.
At that point, I hung up and used a competitor. There are so many ways this experience failed me, beginning from the initial call, where I could have been informed as to expected and wait time and offered a call-back, to a poorly designed web page that offered a service (chat) that was unavailable. This case is a lose-lose scenario. I lost time and brand loyalty, they lost a sale, and I soaked up 10 toll-free minutes and appeared as an abandoned call on their reports.
With crowd-sourcing applications more cost-effective in new cloud-based solutions, there are fewer excuses for companies not investing in improving their CX. I view it as an indication of how much they value their customers and make my choices accordingly.
Table stakes have raised in the CX field and it's time for more companies to “up their game.”
"SCTC Perspective" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.
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