The customer experience breaking point

Breaking point

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

It’s no secret that companies are prioritising the customer experience. In fact, 72 percent of businesses say that improving customer experience is the top priority. And it’s clear that this emphasis is driving digital transformation efforts. Making CX improvements is based on the ability to identify customers’ pain points and implement the right mix of technology and customer service processes to drive brand loyalty. For many businesses, customer experience may be the only competitive advantage.

In the rush to stay competitive, organisations need a way to respond to the influx of customer interactions. This year alone the number of customer communication channels is expected to grow from nine to 11. Whilst it’s imperative that we evolve to better serve our customers, wherever they are, what if somehow, we are missing the point of what they actually want from companies?

We’ve now reached a customer experience breaking point—yet many of us don’t realize it. By focusing so intently on communication channels and the technology that comes with them, we are forgetting the very core of the customer experience: people.

The rise of technology

Customers want companies to tailor interactions to meet their needs, and 44 percent of customers will likely repeat a purchase after a personalised experience. But how do we get there? For many companies, the answer lies in technology. Artificial intelligence, voice search and chatbots are top of mind for customer service departments to give customers the “anytime, anywhere” service that they demand. By 2020, over 80 percent of companies will be using chatbots in customer communication strategies, highlighting the emphasis that organisations are placing on new technology.

While these new solutions can absolutely bolster a company’s ability to interact with customers in more ways, rapid adoption is not without consequence.

The breaking point

Between the pressures to deliver a great experience during every interaction and the hype of new technology, the challenge lies in finding the right balance of technology and people. Unfortunately, many businesses are implementing solutions without first having a solid people-based strategy in place. The risk of adoption without strategy is that it may dehumanise interactions with customers.

Think about this: According to the report, Humanity and the Machine, customers are open to using chatbots, but 61 percent agree that it is more frustrating if a bot cannot solve an issue, and 79 percent want to know that a human is readily-available if needed. Given the fact that contact centre call volume is up by 39 percent in just the past 18 months, it’s clear that automation is not replacing the need for humans. In fact, it’s making humans more important than ever. Your contact centre agents are the key to avoiding the breaking point.

So now what?

The first step to avoiding that breaking point is actually to take a step back. Rather than diving in headfirst to implement the latest technology, it’s important that we take a deeper look and consider the benefits and most importantly, why we need a particular solution. Second, it’s important to look at how these solutions map to the customer journey and the impact that technology will have on our customers. Third, we must continue to work people into the customer experience equation and have a specific and strategic place for the employees who are interacting with customers every single day.

For example, automation technology may be a great first point of contact, but it must be backed by the right team of people who are prepared and available to answer even the most difficult of enquiries. This often requires a mentality reset, and it’s important for companies to rethink the requirements and skillsets for agents. However, if customers are met by a team of experts who are highly-trained, empowered and relatable, it can help brands find the perfect balance between technology and the human touch. Then, using the right analytics technology, we can analyse those conversations to understand what our customers want and how we can better train our teams.

As the importance of the customer experience continues to grow, the importance of people must grow, too. By removing human interaction in favour of technology, we risk hitting the customer experience breaking point and alienating customers. After all, what better way can we find out our customers’ pain points than by speaking directly with them? Human interaction is critical to customer experience success, and the brands that find the right balance of tools, technology and people will be the ones that cultivate the right journey that keeps customers coming back for more.

 

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.

Photo Credit: Peter Gerdes Flickr via Compfight cc

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