Pundits, business leaders, and hipsters have espoused for years the religion of digital transformation. But nothing could create more converts as swiftly as COVID-19. Every time we order takeout from our phones, stream movies to our homes or login to yet another conference call, we confirm our belief in digital channels and offer up our money, our data, and our loyalty.
But it’s not enough simply to survive in the age of COVID-19. The question that will be the most pertinent after COVID-19 is, how does one THRIVE? To be successful in the “new normal,” organizations must prioritize the following five actions to deliver a truly effortless experience.
1. Build customer-centric journeys
In most cases, businesses don’t control the customer journey. They control touchpoints. The key to successful digital transformation is to step back and define the optimal future-state, end-to-end customer journey across business units and channels, then deploy the right strategy and technology to bring it to life.
Start by understanding the most critical journeys or touchpoint experiences that need improving. Rather than trying to make blanket improvements, a narrow focus can illuminate which areas will drive the most CX improvement and ROI. What specific interactions cause the most dissatisfaction among customers and agents? What are the most common contact types, and what are the root causes of those contacts? Next, create sales and service personas that represent the types of members experiencing those suboptimal operations. Deep analytical models build personas based on the needs, behavior, and value of different customer segments for a particular interaction or experience.
2. Automate your way to effortless experiences
Automate journeys as much as possible and create an automation center of excellence to manage the transformation from human dependent interactions to digital/customer-driven interactions. Automation can, in certain processes, fully replace humans, in what usually is known as RPA or unattended automation. This is the case for back-office processes where the level of automation can reach 100%. But in most of the cases, automation will not replace humans. Rather, it will assist and guide them through the process. This is the case for RDA (Desktop Automation or attended automation) where humans are still needed. Instead of having them focused on dealing with systems and processes, thanks to the automation they can focus just on customers to listen to them, create empathy, better serve them, and increase customer satisfaction.
Reducing human dependency not only decreases cost, but also increases process compliance, reduces errors and rework, and increases CX.
3. Turn on all channels
Customers who have to call into a contact center have already put in more effort than they likely would have preferred. To reduce friction, contact centers must be able to manage the preferred channels of the customer, whether they are messaging channels, social media, or mobile apps, among others.
Organizations can now monitor real customer behavior and map individual journeys for each interaction. Enterprise workflow platforms orchestrate these journeys across any channel on a customer basis. Triggers and actions can be automated or semi-automated to enable a more cohesive experience that doesn’t take years to build. Being able to expose the journey to any channel doesn’t only enrich each channel’s capabilities; it also allows customers to move from one channel to another seamlessly with the same experience.
4. Add Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs)
Journey automations are available for any channel, and thanks to these automations, dependency on human intervention is reduced to a level where the human is just the interface between the client and the service required on the automated processes. At this stage, virtual assistants using AI and natural language processing (NLP) can replace even more need for humans. This increases significantly the self-service and digital channel capacity to serve customers. Email assistants, chatbots, and advanced IVR technology can now perform any task required to fully serve them.
5. Continuously add value
Using AI over all the data coming from the journeys and all the channels customers are exposed to allows organizations to make decisions in real-time, based on what’s best for the individual customer. However, technology also enables organizations to be proactive and take initiatives to achieve business targets and improve CX, all while eliminating friction. Some ways that CX leaders can measure value is by tracking specific KPIs that can help their organization make better decisions on how to move forward in the new normal.
Key metrics include:
- Cost to serve
- Back-office reduction
- Backlog reduction
- Customer effort score
Create a solid digital foundation
Long after lock-downs fade into memory, future businesses will analyze and learn from the organizations that survived COVID-19 and thrived in the new normal. Undoubtedly, companies that digitally transformed early will lead the pack because of their ability to create a connected, cohesive, and effortless customer experience from the safety of their customers’ homes.
But not is all is lost for companies late to digital transformation. By prioritizing the issues highlighted in this blog, organizations can discover ways to deliver seamless customer experiences that customers will remember, and maximize cost savings for their CX operations in the future.