Improving the customer experience takes more than technology

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

Driven by a desire to obtain business insights, lower costs and offer customers more choice, businesses are rushing to launch digital transformation initiatives. Significant frustration can arise, however, when companies fail to accurately assess how the technologies will impact the overall customer experience with the organisation – or when they fail to lay the operational groundwork to take full advantage of the new solution. A recent report on customer loyalty provided insights into how to prevent this frustration by implementing technologies that ensure access to both new and traditional services – especially the human touch.

The human connection is still the key to loyalty

When assessing technologies to support digital transformation initiatives, such as artificial intelligence (AI) driven chatbots and voice search, businesses need to evaluate the impact on both the customers and employees who serve them. According to the loyalty report, while 76 percent of respondents believe technology helps create a good experience, 48 percent think innovation is important only if it improves customer service. Further, despite the variety of new channels for contacting companies, 58 percent of customers still believe reaching a representative directly via phone is the best way to get efficient service, and 74 percent say they are more loyal to an organisation if they can speak to someone.

Only by recognising the value placed on being able to directly connect with a representative, can an organisation implement new technologies that achieve business goals without sacrificing the customer experience. While it is important to offer new communication channels, it is also essential that new solutions include a path to easily access an agent in the contact center when customers need them most.

Moving forward starts with the tech stack

To select the optimal technologies to implement and the right vendors to partner with, businesses must first perform a comprehensive audit of the existing tech stack. This will provide them with the opportunity to determine if any solutions are obsolete, which technologies are continuing to provide essentials services, and whether upgrades will enable existing solutions to support new goals. By mapping available applications to customer journey, it becomes easier to identify potential sources of frustration, such as where workflows or user interfaces make it harder for callers to reach a representative. Mapping the tech stack also allows them to pinpoint the best solutions to incorporate to manage the entire journey without adding unnecessary complexity for IT or customers.

One technology that is becoming increasingly essential to supporting an optimal customer journey is AI-powered speech analytics, which enables organisations to turn phone conversations – unstructured data – into rich insights. Speech analytics enables a company to analyse the sentiment of callers and compare what they say during phone calls to what they actually do as a result of the interaction and what they may communicate via other channels, such as chat, email, social media and the website. This provides a comprehensive view of the customer, which, in turn, can inform the activities of every department across the enterprise – including product development, sales and marketing, support and supply chain – enabling them to better contribute to preventing or resolving issues and improving the overall experience.

Empower employees

According to the same loyalty report, 54 percent of customers don’t trust their issues will be addressed if there’s no option to speak to a representative. This means that in many cases, employees, especially contact center agents, have the power to make or break the customer experience.

Meanwhile, 41 percent of contact center agents believe new technologies and implementations reduce the amount of time spent on routine tasks, allowing them to better serve customers with more complex issues. This holds true, however, only if businesses give agents the right tools to be effective. In addition to these tools, the solution set must include interaction analytics and time management capabilities, which allow management to analyse agent behaviour and success rates to enable rapid feedback and improvements in training strategies. By acknowledging the critical role contact center agents play in the customer experience, organisations can empower them with the applications and training they need to best serve customers.

While digital transformation is about new technologies, new channels and new forms of business insight, businesses cannot forget that human contact is imperative for a great customer experience. Without it, customers will become increasingly frustrated, and companies will struggle to understand why their new initiatives are failing. By keeping the ease of connecting with a live representative as a top priority – while also using AI-powered applications to gain insight from these customer interactions – enterprises can have greater confidence their digital transformation and customer experience initiatives will succeed.

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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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