Transformative times demand better digital journeys - are you delivering?
During a recent webinar hosted by MyCustomer and Salesforce, an expert panel explored how COVID-19 has driven digital transformation projects, but left organisations still playing catch-up as changes in behaviour and channel preferences have also accelerated. Here, one of the panellists, Amy Scott, further explores how to close the gap between service transformation and customer expectations.
Towards the end of 2019 consumer confidence was high and the government was already talking about an end to austerity - but all that changed in March with the outbreak of COVID-19.
The sudden arrival of coronavirus has brought about a massive shift to the way we both live and work. When we were looking at the year ahead in December nobody expected there to be a pandemic, no business planned for it, so we are all in uncharted waters.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on people’s lives, and has led to behavioural changes. This is why we’ve seen six years of transformation in six months, and what we’ve seen has been nothing short of staggering. COVID-19 has caused a disruption to the way we live our lives, and it’s during this period of disruption that people are open to change. And now huge swathes of services have become digital by default, and changes in customer behaviour (that might otherwise have taken years) have occurred in a matter of weeks.
We’ve seen people exhibit new behaviours that cut across all areas of life, from how we work to how we shop, and how we entertain ourselves. We’ve seen Disney Plus achieve in five months what it took seven years for Netflix; there are over 300 million daily participants in Zoom meetings; according to Kantar, online grocery sales grew 92% year-on-year in the four weeks up to 12 July 2020; and research by Retail Economics shows that 44% of people believe that how they shop has permanently changed.
Motivate me to change
The circumstances over the past six months have encouraged customers to experiment in using online services and buying a variety of products they never thought they would. Work done in the field of behavioural economics shows that it takes on average 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic and translate into a new habit.
Businesses will need to motivate customers to change their habits by making the new journey clearly better. This can be accomplished by making it faster and simpler for customers to use digital channels, and ensuring they deliver a better experience that people will be more likely to carry on using in the future.
Permanently changing customers behaviours in the way they interact with organisations isn’t new -banking is a great example of this. It started with...
Without any encouragement customers naturally migrated from writing cheques and going into branches to self-serve channels, because it was a more convenient, faster and easier for them to accomplish their goals by clearly delivering them a better journey - this is why 76% of people now use online banking according to Statista.
Delivering better digital journeys
So how can organisations make these new digital journeys better?
In order to ensure success, your digital transformation needs to be taken from your customer’s perspective and not based on cost cutting. This means taking an outside-in view and designing the journey around the customer’s needs, rather than a product, service or channel.
If the customer wants to do something simple and wants to do it as fast, accurately and effortlessly as possible then look to automate it. This will require investing in humanising your digital and remote channels.
You can provide customers a personalised and relevant service, by creating a well-designed conversational AI that communicates like a human by recognising speech and text, understanding intent and responding in a way that mimics human conversation.
Another option is to build bots using RPA to speed up simple interactions. A major airline received more than 120,000 cancellation requests during the first couple of weeks of the pandemic, so they built an RPA bot in just six days, which was able to address 80% of the airline’s cancellation requests. This allowed them to quickly address worried and anxious customers who wanted information and reassurance about refunds.
High Street retailers are still struggling at the moment and are trying to translate their in-store experiences online by providing new ways for customers to engage with them. So, they are using two types of technology to achieve this goal.
The first is Augmented Reality (AR) which provides a very bespoke and personalised experience so you can now buy amongst other things...
The second is video calls which allow High Street retailers to build rapport with their customers, and enables all the rich non-verbal communications to take place making it a more personalised customer experience. John Lewis has launched a number of virtual video appointments for all aspects of your life – nursery advice, home design, personal shopping & wardrobe advice, etc.
And for other businesses the ability to share a screen means the customers can quickly show their problem to the agent or for the agent to present a more efficient solution to help them solve their problem. It also helps diffuse tension when emotional stakes are high because you can see you are dealing with a real person not a disconnected voice.
We need a human touch in the current climate of uncertainty and anxiety, people need other people like never before. So, we need to create a synergy between automated and human engagement, by enabling people to quickly and easily chat or talk to someone if they need some additional support. It is essential in delivering a better experience.
Seamlessly moving customers from self-serve to live serve is vital when a customer’s issues are complex or when emotions are running high, because stressed people are notoriously difficult to serve remotely. If organisations do this well customers won’t feel that they are being pushed into a way of interacting which doesn’t meet their needs, and they will feel less processed and more valued.
Organisations will have to continually enhance their digital offering, but if you want to give your business a competitive edge you will need to have a strategy in place that not only supports digital interactions but builds blended digital relationships with customers.
Learn more about this topic from Amy and other experts by watching the full webinar: Fast-track your customer service transformation plans.
Sedulous is a customer insight driven consultancy specialising in customer experience initiatives and service design. I help organisations to identify what customers want, how they are currently delivering against these expectations, where the customer pain points are, what causes them, and how to design them out of their service offering -...