The great digital shift: Why the new ‘gold standard’ of customer experience is more than just a digital journey
Global PwC analysis shows a third of customers would be willing to leave a brand they loved after a single bad experience. Establishing a solid strategy for a consistent first-class customer experience across every channel is a must-have for building and retaining long-term brand loyalty, says Laura Mullaney, customer director at BGL.
But this means far more than simply adding tech deployments to the contact centre – she argues the full experience must deliver excellent journeys and outcomes that leave the customer coming back for more.
The need for a solid digital experience is now a significant differentiator for customers. With customer expectations higher than ever and continuing to rise – particularly when it comes to personalised and timely support – how a company executes its digital strategy is key.
If customers are unimpressed with the overall customer experience, it’s easier than ever for them to simply take their custom to another provider. Businesses that prioritise digital transformation are therefore well-positioned to create highly engaged and satisfied customers through excellent experiences, seeing them returning time and time again.
The stakes are high – so make excellent experiences your brand differentiator
Digital customer experience can be defined by how a business enables its customers and prospective customers to engage with the products and services it offers online. As customers increasingly choose to interact with businesses through websites, mobile apps and chatbots, it is vital the impact of interactions across all channels is carefully considered, assessing how easy customers find these services to use, how personalised it is, and the customer’s general perception of the interactions they have.
Industry research certainly confirms the value placed by customers on both excellent CX and service availability across digital channels:
- According to the Avionos B2B Buyer Report, 90% of buyers would turn to a competitor if a supplier’s digital channels didn’t fit their needs
- Fully engaged customers will give a 23% greater share of their wallet, Gallup analysis shows
- Zendesk research into customer service trends found 70% of organisations see a direct connection between customer service and performance – yet 54% of consumers feel organisations still treat it as an afterthought
Ensuring customer service operations consistently perform at their peak will give businesses a better opportunity to nurture and build long-lasting relationships with customers. This is where using customer insight to truly understand individual needs could unlock increased consumer confidence and loyalty.
Forget channels, think outcomes
These findings reinforce the importance of a strong digital experience across all channels. It has been particularly interesting to witness many companies who have now outright stopped talking in terms of ‘digital’ or ‘channels’ and have instead moved to simply referencing ‘customer experience’, implicitly assuming a high degree of customer autonomy and easy access to products and services.
It is vital that when brands focus on their digital experience, they don’t see this as simply adding new digital tools. Rather, it is an outcome of how customers experience the online journeys and how they access live services when and wherever it is important for them to do so. Having experienced both the demand for 24/7 online services and the use of mobile devices increase hugely in recent years, there’s been a clear shift in focus towards the delivery of an end-to-end online service offering, with new-design ‘mobile first’ journeys and a complete review of technical architecture, allowing businesses the flexibility to deliver new online functionality at scale as customer demand grows.
Time for a customer-centric redesign
The digital experience has significantly shifted how companies think about customer engagement, with the need for continuous analysis of how online activity and live services combine to deliver the overall customer experience. Ever-changing customer demands mean the digital customer experience must be both innovative and highly adaptable. This is why it is more important than ever for any design or journey change to be customer centric.
For more established businesses, this may also involve a complete restructuring of the technical architecture required to be a market leader — becoming more agile and enabling quicker changes from a user experience (UX) perspective.
Excel across every channel at critical touchpoints
Phrases like a multi and omni-channel experience are often thrown around, but what do they actually mean? Put simply, a provider should give their customers choice in how they transact and interact with their brands and products, presenting a consistent experience regardless of the channel.
To the customer, the channel is often irrelevant, but it’s important to have every option covered for inclusivity and customer preference. Whether speaking with a company’s representative directly, or engaging via automated digital channels, customers expect a seamless experience. They expect to receive a consistent experience whenever and however they engage with a business. This means that the contact centre must be an integral part of the overall customer journey and not simply remain as a traditional, single channel, telephony-based contact centre.
The value of the assisted service agent is to optimise the customer experience, delivering value to the customer and the business and creating longer-term relationships. Solid and seamless processes alone, while of course vital, will not provide the key to excellent customer service. There must be a balance of digital and human interaction. While many customers choose to manage their insurance online, for some, such as those who have a more complex query or need support at what can often be a worrying time – empathy and understanding are vital.
Act now to digitally strengthen contact centre operations
Effective digital transformation for a contact centre should incorporate digital technologies that provide customer insights, enable call deflection, optimise personalisation and automation. We need to shift the ‘traditional call centre’ model into one that can genuinely be described as a contact centre of the future.
Deploy these technologies in a mindful, customer-centric manner that simplifies and enhances the customer journey, ensuring there’s empathy and human interaction for those queries which are more complex, and excellent customer experience can become a true differentiator for your business – not just leaving customers satisfied, but becoming truly ‘brand loyal’.
The author is Laura Mullaney, customer director at BGL.