“The world will never go back to the way it was” – Bill McDermott, CEO of ServiceNow.
These are times of global health uncertainty and business unpredictability.
The #NewNormal is digital, contact-less, human-less, and remote.
The “sales-first” approach has changed to “service-first”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses as well as individuals to reconsider their needs and align to the new way of life. In the past few months, the needs and wants of customers have shifted dramatically.
Forward-thinking companies have realized that by being rigid and continuing the business in the same old methods could hurt their future. They recognize the importance of delivering empathetic and highly personalized experiences to their customers.
What has changed?
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to change customer experience forever.
Here is why
Remote working has become the new norm. People are empowered to work independently from their respective homes. The lines between personal and professional lives have further blurred. While working from home, they expect the tools and products they use to work flawlessly.
The world has come digital. Face-to-face interactions have moved online. People are interacting with brands across multiple channels, and they expect a seamless omni-channel digital experience.
It’s time to be empathetic. People, as well as brands, are facing unprecedented challenges. Everybody is affected differently. It is time for brands to be empathetic in their approach and understand their customers’ specific challenges. This is the time to be helpful and meet the changing customer experience expectations.
It’s time to be proactive. Instead of waiting for customers to report their problems and challenges, it is time for brands to be proactive and reach out to the customers with answers to their questions or solutions to their challenges.
Health, safety, and comfort is the prime focus. Customers are likely to give more preference, trust and loyalty to those brands which put health and well-being of their employees and customers first.
Customers want personalized engagements. It is critical to know the customers’ likes and dislikes and act on them – at the right time and through the right channel.
Things companies can do to enable stellar customer experience
The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the importance of highly connected, omni-channel, highly personalized, digital experiences. Technology is at the heart of all customer interactions.
Here are a few things modern enterprises can do to enable stellar customer experiences –
Invest in technology that can help deliver contextual remote customer service
Customer service reps operating remotely is a reality today, and it is likely to be that way for a considerable period. While customer reps are operating remotely, the service expectations of customers have increased. By using technology, brands can empower their customer service reps to be more contextual in their customer interactions. Knowing more about their customers in real time allows them to offer more personalized service and resolve issues quickly even when they are not working in the standard office environment.
Leverage AI/ ML to introduce personalization in customer support
During the pandemic, when brands are working remotely with a reduced workforce, the available customer support agents are burdened with increased ticket volumes. Brands can use the power of AI chat-bots to handle common support requests and reduce the pressure on customer support agents. Intelligent automation can help in automatic classification and escalation of cases based on the expertise and availability of agents. AI can also help in proactive customer delivery based on agent availability and wait times. Customer service stakeholders can gain real-time insights across all customer contact channels and optimize their operations to ensure higher customer satisfaction.
Focus on data-driven decision-making
Big data can make a significant impact on the customer experience. By integrating customer analytics into their operations, brands can increase customer retention, improve customer experience, gain new customers, and derive real business value. By leveraging the power of structured and unstructured data, brands can easily track social media interactions, gain insights into customer issues, and fix their problems in real-time. By gaining insights into customer behavior and monitoring customer interactions, brands can identify weaknesses in their teams or highlight opportunities for improving customer support.
Deliver omni-channel and seamless customer experience
Today’s modern, digitally savvy customers interact with brands through multiple channels. That makes their journey extremely complex as it involves multiple touch-points and interactions spread across a long duration. However, the customers expect the interactions to be seamless, part of a single experience, and not repetitive. Hence, creating a connected customer experience is critical for brands. Brands need to leverage technology to remove silos, allow data to flow seamlessly across various departments within their organization, give customer service reps a single view of customer information – anytime, anywhere, and fine-tune their ability to capture and process data across multiple sources in real time.
It is very clear that COVID-19 has fundamentally transformed the way of working, the way customers interact with brands, the way they make purchases, and their expectations from brands when it comes to customer service. Only those brands which are willing to be agile, ready to understand the changing customer mindsets, and reorganize their strategies will stay in business.