Digital allows businesses to engage their customers
But customers are worn out by complicated processes
DIGITAL promises endless opportunities to enhance the customer journey. Today, businesses can better engage with customers due to a broad range of tech-enabled channels.
On the other side of this relationship, the ubiquity of connected devices has empowered consumers with more ways to get in touch with businesses.
Although technology has opened up a world of automated and self-support service channels, convenience is giving way to the isolation of customers and contributing to poor user experience.
The Autonomous Customer, a study by BT and Avaya (2015) supports this, revealing that despite the variety of digital channels available for communication with businesses, customers are not satisfied with their overall user experience.
Customers are worn out by the complicated process of seeking a resolution to problems through a host of new and different platforms.
For example, an overwhelming 70% of Singapore respondents said they find dealing with customer service issues exhausting, higher than the global average of 62%.
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Businesses today must make it their priority to enable personalised, real-time and on-demand user experiences through digital.
By deploying an intelligent, customer-centric and channel-agnostic strategy for their customer support systems, businesses will be better positioned to strengthen their customer relationships and overcome the potential risks of isolation and customer fatigue.
The oxymoron of supported self-service
Self-service is only attractive if supported. When an issue cannot be resolved quickly, customers expect self-service to come with assistance on demand.
However, self-service technologies, apps and social media are reducing the human touch and isolating the customer.
Businesses need to find a balance between leveraging digital for their customer support systems and making sure real-life support is still available.
This is important because customers still want a sense of assurance and immediacy when seeking advice. Our study revealed that customers highly prefer person-to-person help through phone support, making a supported self-service offering vital for today’s businesses.
Intelligent and proactive problem-solving
Customers are now able to research widely before making a purchase decision, and they expect to be provided with the right information at the right time.
In reality though, there is too much information across the various digital platforms for customers to sift through on their own.
Businesses can step in here to help customers resolve their problems by filtering through the data intelligently and proactively.
Using data analytics, they can resolve customer issues before they arise and even anticipate problems that customers are not aware of.
Having this foresight will also mean businesses can adapt the way they deliver support to suit the customer’s needs and situation.
Revolving around the customer
To this end, customer-centricity remains the be-all and end-all of effective customer engagement. Customers are pleased when businesses can recognise them and understand their experience and preferences.
Yet many customers find themselves wasting a lot of time on unnecessary procedures before they actually get the help they require.
We learned that two-thirds of Singapore respondents said it takes too long for support staff to identify them, more than the global average of one in two.
Giving customers the precise support they need more quickly and easily will help businesses to avoid tiring them out.
Collecting customer feedback and using analytics to process customer information will go a long way towards improving customer experiences.
If businesses can personalise the user experience for customers by responding to their specific requests, they will be also be able to ensure their satisfaction.
Ease of usage across channels
Today’s customers have very little time to spare and often change the way they contact businesses for information.
That said, most customers feel businesses have not made it easy for them to switch between the different channels for communication.
When customers are forced to make an extra effort to get the help they need, they lose interest very quickly and walk away dissatisfied.
Implementing a channel-agnostic customer service will allow customers to switch between channels seamlessly as and when they choose to.
Businesses will stand to improve their bottom line when they provide customers with easy access across all channels. After all, eight in 10 Singapore respondents said they will buy more from organisations that make it easier for them.
Beyond this, businesses can bring added value to their customers by ensuring that the help given across those channels does not contradict each other. This means having a network of experts who can lead the customer to the right person for the right answers.
Going where the customer is
Connectivity brings endless opportunities for customer engagement. However, that open door is not a simple walkthrough.
As we use digital to drive effective customer support strategies, we also need to establish a 360-degree understanding of customer needs and behaviour.
Businesses that are proactive in shaping holistic and consistent customer service experiences through an intelligent, customer-centric and channel-agnostic strategy will succeed. With digital, businesses can go where the customer is.
Vijay Venugopalan is head of Customer Relationship Management, Asia, Middle East & Africa, BT Global Services.
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