Technology is growing at a rapid pace and disruptors are challenging many businesses; and the market looks to those in the IT industry to make sense of it.
It can be very daunting to think about the changes happening every day in terms of emerging technologies, and the simple, yet sobering fact that they don’t make customers like they used to.
Indeed, the customer of today is largely better informed and better connected, and expects immediacy and total accessibility, not to mention a more purposeful exchange.
Despite shifting trends and the pace of change, I find comfort in the fact that some core principles stay the same and can serve as the foundation to create special moments for customers.
In fact, sometimes making a conscious effort to ‘park the technology’ momentarily ensures that our efforts are directed to the right place, i.e. the customer.
So, while we get our heads around the latest advances in technology that can throw us off guard, I keep coming back to the basic principles of design, knowledge and insights to create a great experience:
- Have we designed the experience with the customer in mind? Pressure test it from all angles and repeat the question until an honest answer surfaces
- More channels and ways in which customers can interact means more mediums through which information needs to be communicated and absorbed. How is knowledge managed within the organisation, and how will this new channel or process extract the right information to share with the customer in the best possible way?
- Are we set up to measure the impact of our efforts? With every interaction with a customer, do we have the means to capture that as intelligence to inform and shape future interactions?
Once we’ve asked these questions and the technology is brought back into frame, it presents with far more purpose, often laying the grounds for us to ask more from it.
It’s encouraging to see more organisations spend time on the exercise of customer journey mapping. The deeper we delve into this exercise, the richer our understanding of gaps and the reality of the experiences we have constructed (by design or by default) becomes.
For example, when considering a customer’s journey through an organisation or buying process, it can be tempting to view this in a one-dimensional and transactional way: a customer looks at a website, then the customer makes a purchase etc.
However, exploring all of the moments that exist for a customer along the way gives us a much greater understanding of the quality of their experience and most importantly, where the opportunities exist to inject the special moments that have real impact for each customer.
Understanding the many inputs into a customer’s experience also creates the space to explore more ambitious possibilities.
For instance, understanding customer behaviour and the preference for some customers to help themselves outside of business hours could be a great opportunity to introduce a new service channel such as a virtual assistant.
Providing immediate answers to customers in a conversational way 24/7 can help not just your immediate customers, but your future ones too.
Relating to insights, another gift of a virtual assistant is that all of a sudden, you have access to streams of conversation that tell us more about customer preferences, their expectations, and where gaps exist.
These can be organised in meaningful ways and contrasted against more traditional channels, quantifying the benefit of the new channel and technology introduced.
In fact, mapping activity across different channels can be very telling, and it’s when this all comes together in the form of actionable insights that the magic really starts.
The introduction of automation into workflows and customer interactions emphatically leads to a change in the types of workloads that our workforce handles.
Enter the complexity factor, a term we use to track the shift in complexity of interactions across all channels, and show that our efforts have resulted in our people dealing with increasingly complex and more meaningful exchanges with customers.
So, essentially, while the pace of change doesn’t look like it will abate any time soon, we can slow things down by bringing the focus back to the customer.
Stacey Tomasoni is managing director of Datacom Connect. Stacey was awarded the ARN Women in ICT Innovation award in 2017 for her work in continually looking ‘beyond’ the technology; bringing service design and customer centricity into every conversation, and using this insight to create the conditions for differentiated experiences.