Customer loyalty requires more than technology — It needs the human touch

michelangelo

This is a guest post from Kris McKenzie, Senior Vice President and General Manager for EMEA at Calabrio

Today’s customers are more empowered than ever, and with that comes increasing demands for a better customer experience. More than 41 million people in the U.K. own smartphones, and customers are finding freedom in these pocket-sized devices: 70 percent of consumers admit that technology makes it easier for them to take their business elsewhere when expectations aren’t met.

To meet those expectations, companies are innovating at a rapid pace. By 2020, it is estimated that 85 percent of customer interactions will be powered by chatbots, and organisations are constantly opening up additional self-service channels to give customers communication options. It’s clear that this type of technology is important for companies to gain competitive edge, but are they innovating so quickly that they’re failing to understand the impact these solutions will have on the customer experience? And do companies really know what motivates customer behaviour in a digital world?

A new survey, “Are you Listening? The Truth About What Consumers Want in a Digital World,” revealed some surprising findings about what influences customer behaviour as companies adopt new technologies.

First, they want an exceptional product: 61 percent of survey respondents said that a great product or service is the best way to earn their loyalty, while 58 percent are driven to complain if a product or service wasn’t what they expected. But that product must be backed by personalised service. Customer experience is critical to building brand loyalty, and some customers will pay up to 16 percent more for a better service. And improved, more personalized service is only possible with the human touch.

In the race to innovate and adopt new solutions, a successful customer experience will balance the convenience of technology with the personalisation that only people can give.

Appealing to human nature
Chatbots and other automated solutions certainly make it easier for companies to handle an influx of inbound queries and for customers to get rapid answers to simple questions. However, organisations cannot rely on technology alone, and that’s due to human nature. Human nature is how people think, feel and act. To build loyalty, companies must appeal to customers’ emotions. They want a human connection and they want to feel heard. In fact, 74 percent of customers are more loyal to a company if they can speak to someone, and 31 percent are driven to complain if they feel like they’re not being heard.

If companies don’t listen to customers, it can have dire consequences in the form of distrust. That distrust can be avoided or alleviated by people: 60 percent feel like their voices are heard when they speak to a human, but 54 percent don’t trust that their issue will be addressed if there’s no option to speak to a live person. While automation technology is an important part of any strategy, it cannot become a roadblock that prevents customers from connecting with people. People are what build connections and, without them, companies can’t appeal to the emotional side of human nature. When deploying new solutions, organisations must make it easier than ever to speak with a representative. Not only will it lead to increased satisfaction and brand loyalty, but companies will also have a direct line into customer wants and needs.

Unlocking the voice of the customer
Knowing what customers want and need is imperative to building loyalty, and those sentiments are all locked inside the voice of the customer. When deploying technology, companies must aim to find that voice to deliver on a great experience. That means innovating with the customer in mind. Customers know that companies will continue to implement new solutions, and 76 percent think that technology helps create a good customer experience. But they must see the benefit: 48 percent of survey respondents don’t care about innovation unless it improves customer service.

What’s more, employees also understand the value of new solutions. Forty-one percent of contact centre agents believe that new technology implementations will alleviate a number of administrative and routine tasks. While employees and customers know that technology can be powerful, to be successful in an experience-driven world, everyone must benefit.

To ensure that technology helps, not hinders, the customer experience, organisations must understand the complete customer journey. By mapping the various touchpoints and understanding the path that customers want to take, companies can implement solutions that support what customers want while alleviating manual burdens from human employees. For example, when speech analytics from phone conversations are combined with insights across digital channels, companies can gain a firm understanding of customer wants and needs. From there, they can create a technology strategy that allows customers to get quick answers to simple questions but easily have access to human representatives to help with more complex needs.

As more digital solutions become available, it’s important to use discernment. Technology has the power to help create a great experience, but it has limitations when you are trying to make the journey truly personal. That’s why it will never serve as a substitute for human representatives. Agents in the contact centre can appeal to human emotions and offer a personal touch, which builds valuable connections with customers that turn to brand loyalty.

It’s no secret that companies need technology to stay competitive, but those solutions must be coupled with a great product and personalised service. When technology is deployed with human connections in mind, organisations remove mundane tasks and empower agents to create the personalised experience that customers crave.

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This is a guest post from Kris McKenzie, Senior Vice President and General Manager for EMEA at Calabrio

About Kris

Kris McKenzieKris McKenzie is Senior Vice President and General Manager for EMEA at Calabrio and is responsible for Calabrio’s EMEA operations and go-to-market efforts. He oversees sales, operations, strategic partnerships and customer success. Kris joined Calabrio with more than 20 years’ experience in global enterprise SaaS technology and 14 years of management and sales leadership. Kris brings extensive expertise in helping companies implement solutions to develop a deep understanding of their customers. Most recently, Kris served as Global VP Market Development at SAP Hybris Cloud, where he drove revenue and customer success through long-term corporate alliances, partnerships and other collaborations. Prior to SAP Hybris, Kris was SVP Global Sales at Yieldify where he ran the global sales team across London, New York, Sydney and São Paulo. He also served as the EMEA Regional Vice President, Enterprise Sales for ExactTarget, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2014. Kris holds a B.Sc. degree in Business Information Systems from De Montfort University.

Take a closer look at what Calabrio do here, say Hi to them and Kris on Twitter @Calabrio and @krisjmckenzie and connect with Kris on LinkedIn here.

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Thanks to Pixabay for the image.

 

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