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Controlling customer experience chaos in 2023

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With 2023 set to be just as chaotic as 2022, predicting the biggest CX challenges of the next 12 months is difficult bordering on impossible. Businesses should instead resign themselves to the fact that chaos will ensue, and focus on strengthening key areas that will help them be prepared for any eventuality, writes Jean-Baptiste Decaix. 

21st Dec 2022
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Trying to identify the biggest business challenge that 2023 will bring is going to be almost as impossible as solving it. Currently vying for ‘most pressing problem’ is the need to dramatically increase sustainability, the urgent need to hire from a diminishing talent pool, the need to address rising costs, and dropping consumer budgets – to name a few.

In short, FUD is becoming FCUD. Fear, chaos, uncertainty, and doubt are combining to create many headaches and sleepless nights for customer experience leaders – and it’s going to be hard for them to see which way they can turn.

It’s going to take a very specific set of principles and carefully balanced actions to tackle what’s to come. In 2023 and beyond, CX leaders will need to focus their attention across the following key areas.

Increasing efficiency by improving CX

When it comes to cost efficiencies in the current economic climate, the instinct might be to cut CX budgets. But although every CX leader needs to take a long look at their business processes to find where efficiency can be improved, this doesn’t necessarily mean a reduction in headcount.

Instead, a focus on blending the best of tech and the best of human will have a direct impact on efficiency, while reducing risk and also improving the overall customer experience. There are a number of opportunities that introduce efficiencies through aligning more closely with how customers want to interact with brands. These include:

  • Improvements in self-service, which enhances the customer journey for the many customers who prefer not to use their phones for voice contact with brands. These customers are more likely to search for answers before calling customer service helplines, so it’s important to ensure the answers to common questions are out there on company websites and social platforms such as YouTube.

  • Improving automation, including how chatbots, voicebots, RPA are used, is also important. Instead of thinking of automation as a way to prevent a customer from talking to an advisor, it should be used to add value, such as taking information from a customer who is asking out-of-hours questions and arranging a call-back the next day.

  • Best shoring the operations to leverage best labour arbitrage, and using language translation tools to manage multiple languages in one lower cost location. 

By improving the use of self-service and automating processes and elements of the customer journey, only the customer questions that automation isn’t able to answer will reach advisors. This will immediately reduce the amount of lower-value and repetitive interactions. This way, advisors can be elevated to a role of brand ambassador, enabling them to focus on solving more complex and pressing issues and add more CX value to the customer journey.

Prioritising talent attraction and retention

In a recession, it’s vital that customer service teams bring their A-game. CX acts as the link between a brand and its customers and has the potential to create genuine emotional connection to a brand, so when times are tough for customers, it becomes even more crucial to engage the frontline.

If technology is used to triage queries, then by the time an advisor interacts with a customer, it is likely that the customer has not been able to find the answer or the solution they are looking for. In these cases, knowledgeable support from someone who understands the products or services inside out will be both expected and valued.

It’s increasingly apparent that soft skills and empathy are highly prized by customers, and to create even more rewarding work for advisors, their roles – and in turn performance – should be augmented by technology.

Empowering individuals to empathise with customers and resolve their issues, combined with ongoing training, proactive management support, genuine career path opportunities, and continuous engagement in the workplace, will help ensure the best talent is engaged and retained. And equally importantly, this positive work culture will also serve to attract new talent to the business.

Keeping customers front and centre

With the cost-of-living spiralling, consumers are taking an increasingly price-oriented mindset to purchases big and small. But the true value of purchases is no longer simply based on cost. The CX ‘wrap’ – or the services before, during and after the product sale – is the new battleground, not to mention frequently the compelling differentiator.

The consumer attitude today is: “If you can’t be my everything, then someone else will be.” At best, poor CX will result in loss of a sale; at worst, it will impact wider sales due to bad reviews, and the missed chance of converting that customer into a loyal, long-term brand advocate.

Instead of keeping a narrow focus on cost efficiencies, tough economic times are when brands need to up their CX game and keep customers firmly front and centre. Data analysis should be used to help brands get closer to their customers, by understanding what they really think and how they feel about the brand, as well as the products and/or services they are considering purchasing.

These data-driven insights can drastically improve how and when customers are served, allowing smarter business decisions to be made. It also enables the possibility of offering much greater levels of personalisation.

By combining insights from purchase history, browsing behaviours, interactions, and messages with external data, such as the weather or major global events, retailers and service providers can pinpoint customer propensity to respond to communications and offers, and enable brands to build offers and deals that are more likely to appeal to those individuals.

Remember, personalisation translates as recognition of a customer’s specific likes and dislikes. Being understood in this way makes each and every customer feel valued, which translates to positive customer behaviours and outcomes for the brand. At the same time, you also transform your CX team from a cost-centre to a revenue creation centre.

Partnering for CX success

CX efficiency is always important but achieving it should be a strategic and considered process to ensure that funds aren’t being pulled from innovation-driving and strategic initiatives. Often, customer service efficiency gains and process improvement are most easily achievable when working with a CX specialist partner, rather than managing CX processes in-house.

External partners, with their 360-view of the myriad of people, process, and technology factors across multiple customer experience operations, are best placed to balance the competing drivers of cost, quality and risk, the successful achievement of which ultimately drives positive business outcomes.

As FCUD increasingly becomes the new normal, brands need to become resilient in this challenging decade, one in which instability – from numerous societal, economic, and environmental factors – is baked into the global business environment. Simply put, now is the time to think differently about customer experience. 

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