This is a guest post from Tom Goodmanson, CEO, Calabrio
The rapid development of new technologies over the last 15 years, including smart phones, social media, the cloud, SaaS, big data, and AI, have led to extraordinary changes in how we conduct business. Using these technologies, businesses have employed a variety of strategies, from new channels for communicating with customers, such as chatbots, to product recommendations, all in the hope of improving the customer journey and building brand loyalty.
However, the result is often that customers feel more like “just a number” than ever before.
Consider this increasingly familiar scenario. You’ve just installed some new software and are struggling to implement one of its features. You go to the company’s online support portal, which boldly exclaims that it is better meeting your needs by offering a variety of ways to get help—phone, web, text, chat, social. You think this is great and start searching for an answer in the FAQs and other online resources. However, after a long and unsuccessful search, you decide to launch a chat session. You type a long description of the issue, but after a delay-filled series of exchanges, the agent can’t resolve it and recommends calling the contact centre. Frustrated, you call the company, only to wait in a queue to speak to an agent. When you finally get connected, the agent asks you to describe the problem all over again and begins taking you through the same troubleshooting process as the chat session!
Yes, the company provided you with a lot of flexibility, but instead of making you feel satisfied and loyal, you’re thinking that it may be much easier to return the product or switch service providers than to continue dealing with a company that wasted so much of your time.
What Does Customer Loyalty Really Mean?
What experiences make you feel loyal to a company? Which companies will you go back to even if at times your experiences aren’t ideal? For many, it’s the companies where you have positive human interactions. From the baristas or other friendly customers at your local café, to the individual nurses and doctors at your healthcare provider, it’s personal interactions that ultimately make or break our relationships with companies. This is true in the contact centre as well. When you reach out to a company, no matter the channel, you want to feel like a real person cares about you (even if it is a chat session), and when you speak with an agent, you want them to understand what you are going through, especially if you are having an ongoing issue.
This is why creating loyal customers requires far more than new communication channels or recommendation engines. It requires transforming the customer experience into a fundamentally human one, and this requires engaging customers on an emotional level.
How can a company engage customers on a more emotional level in an era of automation and the constant drive for greater efficiency? Ironically, with more technology…of the right kind. Analytics, combined with other technologies, are now enabling companies to achieve a much deeper understanding of who their customers are and what drives their interactions with the company, enabling them to respond in much more human ways.
Humanising Customer Experiences with Technology
Here are three keys to using technology to make deeper, more human customer engagement possible:
Improve how you listen to what customers say – No matter what channel a customer uses to make contact, your company must be able to incorporate what they say into a single view of their journey. Technologies are now available to automatically consolidate all interactions—including voice recordings and video files—into a single dashboard, allowing agents to see the entire history of an issue, as well as other interactions with the company. The customer will never have to explain a problem twice.
Improve how you respond to what customers feel – Beyond making all the interactions available to contact centre agents in a single dashboard, your agents must be empowered to provide the right emotional response based on what customers are experiencing. Sentiment analysis is now a key technology enabling businesses to tie the language customers use to emotional states. This knowledge is essential for preparing agents to respond to a situation appropriately based on what a customer may be feeling, whether its frustration, anger, confusion or even delight.
Keep agents engaged in the process – Technology is key to ensuring agents are delivering a great customer interaction every time. New technologies go beyond merely tracking KPIs related to agent productivity to provide analytical and workflow tools that enable contact centre managers to track whether agents are responding appropriately. In addition to supporting the effort to engage customers on a deeper, more human level, the ability to respond appropriately to how customers feel can also make agents happier and increase their overall job satisfaction, leading to reduced turnover.
The Business Benefits
Technology has always been a double-edged sword, solving some problems while potentially creating new ones. It is now time for technology to step up again to help companies bring more humanity back into their customer relationships. Keep in mind that by investing in technologies that help you engage customers on a deeper level, you can achieve vital business benefits—including greater customer and employee loyalty—as well as knowledge that will lead to better products and services, and increased sales.
This is a guest post from Tom Goodmanson, CEO, Calabrio
Tom Goodmanson, President and CEO of Calabrio, has more than 20 years of experience leading fast growing dynamic software and technology companies. Since assuming the CEO position in 2009, Tom is credited with reinventing the company and its culture around a strategy to expand value and reach through new, innovative products, and remarkable customer experiences. Addressing the market need for simpler solutions to complex customer interaction challenges, Tom’s vision to redefine the standard for software ease-of-use has been instrumental in making Calabrio one of the fastest growing companies in the industry.
Prior to his role at Calabrio, Tom was a senior leader in several successful technology-based companies, including Gelco Information Network and Magenic Technologies. Tom currently holds a board seat at Virteva.
Tom has a B.S. degree in Accounting from St. Cloud State University.
Thanks to Pixabay for the image.