5 ways unified data & new tech will improve CX
The days of “sell and move on” are over. In a time of economic uncertainty, successful businesses are adopting a new model focused on the lifetime value of each customer. Maximizing the customer lifetime value (CLV) requires companies to build meaningful relationships, foster loyalty, and improve retention. Achieving those goals requires a seamless and frictionless customer experience, from research to sale to services and support.
Because most customer interactions with a product or service happen after the sale is complete, progressive businesses are placing more attention on post-sales customer experiences. That means the services organization is becoming the face of the business.
Service representatives have much more contact with customers over time than do sales or marketing representatives. They interact with them across multiple touchpoints—on the phone, in person, and online. They help customers get more value from the product and recommend upgrades and complementary solutions. Service representatives are who customers know and trust.
Quality service can increase CLV by enhancing retention and customer loyalty, increasing the size of each sale, and identifying upsell and cross-sell opportunities. A good working relationship with customers can even provide field research into other products and services they use. Sales and marketing can use that data for competitive analysis and win-backs that further increase CLV.
All of these CLV gains start with excellent customer service that is seamless, frictionless, and highly personalized. To deliver the kind of service that grows customer lifetime value, service representatives need real-time access to data highlighting customers’ interactions with the company and it needs to be stored in one place: a single customer profile.
Before the pandemic, many organizations were already digitally transforming their service by creating a single view of all customer interactions with their company. The dramatic shift to e-commerce and online engagement this year has accelerated both the pace and the importance of unified, accessible customer data. Companies that get customer data right are not only building loyalty and growing revenue now. They’re also creating higher customer expectations for service in 2021. Here are five areas where unified data and new technologies will keep raising the bar for customer experience.
1. Improve self-service options and quality
Enhancing customer value isn’t just about increasing sales. Efficiencies can also build value. Letting customers help themselves through self-service platforms that contain accurate, personalized information can reduce customer retention costs. It also gives customers what they want, on demand and allows them to be in control of the service interaction.
That’s important, because a recent consumer-experience survey found that 77% of customers want their problem solved immediately when they contact customer service. Self-service with a chatbot is one increasingly popular option. Recent research found that chatbot customer-service sessions increased by 426% from February to April this year.
AI and chatbots can’t replace complex human conversations, but the technology is improving. Now, AI-driven bots can help customers quickly handle simple tasks like resetting passwords and pre-filling basic customer information to speed up more complex interactions. AI and bots can also help to automate call centers, remote assistance, augmented reality and virtual reality experiences, and teleconferencing to eliminate costly in-person visits. All of these self-service options free service organizations to enable solutions rather than spend time on customer interactions, powering faster resolutions and reducing overhead costs for agents.
2. Step up digital enablement
The more customer service happens in the background and through self-service, the less time organizations need to spend running through standard workflows in the field. This can increase customer satisfaction by minimizing face-to-face interactions, which has become a major concern for customers in 2020. That habit is expected to persist through 2021 and possibly longer. For example, customers can get estimates, project proposals, and invoices digitally before a service rep arrives for a no-touch service call.
Digital enablement also saves time. For example, service reps can download and review compliance checklists and customer information before they arrive. A recent Retail TouchPoints report found that without digital enablement, front-line workers spend up to three hours each week just looking for information they need to do their jobs. With proper digital tools, 71% report increased productivity. Digitally enabled preparedness optimizes workflows, reduces service times, and avoids redundancy to provide an overall better customer experience.
3. Leverage innovative technologies
AI and machine learning (ML) can help organizations deliver better service in multiple ways:
- ML algorithms can track and learn what works during service interactions and automatically apply those lessons learned to future service requests. Already, 82% of services organizations that employ AI have higher rates of customer issue resolution on first contact. As 2021 progresses, more customers will have first-contact resolution as their baseline expectation for good service.
- AI-driven sentiment analysis can track customer satisfaction and provide real-time recommendations for upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
- AI- and ML-supported predictive maintenance programs can analyze equipment operations and reduce product and part failure in the field by timing service calls and repairs to just when they’re needed.
- AI and ML can assess service representatives’ performance and match their strengths to specific customer calls. These tools can also identify areas where reps may need additional training to deliver better service.
With all of these benefits, it’s perhaps not surprising that 70% of customer interactions will involve ML and other innovative technologies by 2022. That makes 2021 the year for organizations to adopt or refine these tools.
4. Tier customers for more effective insight and better service
Customers increasingly expect 1:1 selling models that are personalized and specific to their needs. Their expectations for service are no different. A data analytics system can enable businesses to track the value of each customer and tailor service levels appropriately. This capability requires an up-to-date customer profile that includes purchase history and predictive spending data. When this kind of profile is fed into an algorithm with a development cycle that continually updates the algorithm to maintain accuracy, businesses can optimize their level of investment in each customer with each interaction.
This kind of investment can strengthen customer loyalty by delivering excellent, personalized service to your organization’s most valuable customers. Research shows that companies with the strongest customer loyalty increase revenue 2.5 times faster than their competitors. And as more companies deploy AI and ML tools to tailor service levels over the next year, companies that lag risk losing customers.
5. Evolve new service delivery models
Automation, chatbots, AI, and ML can enhance customer service quickly. They should also serve as the basis of innovation in service delivery over the longer term. When your services organization has pertinent customer information, real-time produce data from Internet-of-Things devices, and AI-driven analytics on customer behavior and product function, they can find creative ways to enhance the lifetime value of each customer.
For example, your teams may want to offer usage-based pricing or pre-paid subscription service plans and let customers choose the option that’s right for their needs and budget. They may suggest bundling low-investment services with products at the point of sale to increase attach rate. Or they may come up with an altogether new approach that maximizes value.
In short, it’s clear that the services organization is increasingly becoming the face of business during this time of disruption and change—and customers will continue to expect more efficient, convenient service options.
Providing service reps with the information they need to deliver high-quality, efficient service will enhance experiences throughout the customer’s time with the brand. That empowerment, combined with the right technologies, can also accelerate service, optimize resources, and allow reps to focus on high-value challenges rather than basic tasks. Empowered sales and service organizations working together can provide more value to the customer and to the business in 2021 and beyond.
Bill Donlan is Executive Vice President, DCX/Salesforce Service Line Leader at Capgemini. Bill has more than 26 years of experience helping companies improve customer and value chain relationships through a combination of business strategy, process tuning and industry best practices, and technology integration. He is experienced with all of the leading software vendors in the CRM space as well as several of the mid-market packaged solutions. Bill is based in Miami, Florida.
Bill Donlan is Executive Vice President, DCX/Salesforce Service Line Leader at Capgemini. Bill has more than 26 years of experience helping companies improve customer and value chain relationships through a combination of business strategy, process tuning and industry best practices, and technology integration. He is experienced with all of the...