The relationship between a customer and a brand revolves around a multitude of interaction that happens between them in the course of their journey together.
Customers expect to get all that they have signed up for and more without having to pay extra and the brands wish to make use of every possible opportunity to serve to the best of their abilities and resources, they create products, services and related loops for the customers to keep coming back to them when in need & even otherwise. These objectives may appear conflicting from a distance but they actually are complimenting in nature. Companies spend a lot of time and money in preparing the foundation, as it were, for them to give prospects and customers a tour of their capabilities, educating them on the entire range of product and services is vital to gaining a larger share of the customer wallet. Investments are made in creating soothing, easy-on-the-eye and nearly omnipresent digital footprint, from good looking, responsive & intuitive websites to active social media participation. More traditional, brick and mortar establishments are also brought in the play, from choosing the right real estate to designing and erecting swanky showrooms: companies do it all. Not to mention that maintenance of both digital and physical assets come at a cost.
The question then is, is it enough to deliver excellent customer experience? Do customers care about better or smarter solutions? These questions are important, no matter how complete a solution might appear to its creator if the customer/ end users do not see the considerable value and/or cosy comfort or both in it, it is not of good use and often will deliver less than ideal outcomes.
To understand this better, let’s take two examples.
Customer: Payal Singh.
Need: Booking a holiday.
Chain of events :
Payal goes to the website, logs in with her credentials.
Provides her search criteria.
Makes to the relevant selection of the airline.
Provides passengers details.
Comes to the payment page.
Keys in the banking details.
Is greeted by transaction failure.
She tries one more time only to face a repeat of the error.
She goes back to the home page and starts her search for the ‘contact us’ page.
She finds the customer support number and calls up.
She is greeted by the IVR and a never-ending list of irrelevant options.
After spending, longer than she had expected to, she reaches the agent.
The agent greets her and waits for the customer to share her reason for calling.
Customer by then is already frustrated but keeps her cool and explains the entire story to the agent.
The agent places the call on hold, checks the information.
Comes back from hold and tries to authenticate the customer one more time because, in his book, it is customer account specific information and must only be divulged to the right party.
Post +ve verification, says that the payment gateway is down and she must try another time.
Customer bangs the phone feeling absolutely frustrated, infuriated & disheartened. Despite putting in much of effort and the time she is still without a definitive resolution, she doubts if she should give the brand another chance. She tweets about the horrible experience before the agent finishes his shift her entire followers have read about it: some have liked and retweeted the incident too, causing the brand a lost sale and tarnished online reputation.
Net-net nothing has been achieved so far, neither by the customer nor by the organisation. Both have had to face negative experiences and are displeased with the way things have turned out.
Let’s look at another example.
Customer: Iqbal Ahmed.
Need: Booking a holiday.
Chain of events: Identical till step number 7.
8) Is greeted by transaction failure alert.
9) Right after the failure message, the pop up saying “ Allow us to help you” appears.
10) Iqbal clicks on the pop-up and reads,
Would you like us to call you back?
You can chat with us too.
11) Customer clicks on the chat option.
12) Agent “Ram” greets the customer and says, apologies for the error, allow me to check it and get back to you.
13) Iqbal feeling exasperated scrolls up and hits on the “Would you like us to call you back?” button.
14) Chat window gets updated, Ram will call you on your registered number “9835098350” in 2 minutes.
15) Before the customer could pour himself a cup of coffee, his phone rings.
16) The caller, the same agent he had initiated his chat with, greets him with a solution.
The agent from his integrated CRM was able to see the stage in which the customer had invoked the chat.
He had studied customer history and was aware of the complete profile.
There wasn’t a need for the customer to repeat the issue.
The customer had the option to choose between chat and voice support.
Both channels were instant.
17) He offered the customer an alternative and guided him through the steps.
18) Flight tickets were done.
19) The agent from the customer history could find out that he was booking for his wedding anniversary and then suggested, below options and offered additional & special anniversary discount to him.
Airport pick up
Options for beach facing hotel room.
Candlelight dinner in perfect settings.
Private musical show.
Tour of the city
Photographer on call.
Suggested a variety of cakes to choose from.
He also presented to the customer with the option to visit the famous state museum in the city on the day of his return.
20) The customer was delighted and took a few options suggested.
The agent had access to his past bookings and profile of the customer.
His integrated CRM suggested smart related bundles.
Given the size of the booking, he could provide the customer with a pre-authorised, on the spot discount.
Planned the entire holiday and not just flight tickets.
21- Agent also took permission from the customer and blocked his calendar and provisioned for auto call reminders for key activities.
22- The call ended in a happy customer and a happier business.
Which is going to be the most likely scene in your organisation?
Scenario 1 or 2?
If it is 1, you most certainly need to urgently deploy Omnichannel support layer integrated smartly with the CRM/order management system. It will not only prepare you to provide customers with instant resolution but will also make you present at whichever mode that the customer would like you to assist him on? Intelligent integration with the order management/CRM tool as depicted in the example 2 will also enable the service agent to help the customer make logical choices related to their need, resulting in bounty upsell/upgrade opportunity for the business and desirable convenience for the customer : resulting in stronger relationship between the two.
When presented options of upgrade/upsell are contextual in nature those options appear meaningful to the customers and they are more likely to buy from you again. In the entire process, we saw how a potential deal breaker “transaction failed” turned into a delightful customer experience in scenario 2; and it achieved a great experience without making the customer toil, like in the first undesirable case that we looked at. Customer love being spoilt with pleasant options but at the same time, they hate having to work for it. It is therefore important that when you design your systems, you keep customer effort index in mind.
If you do all the work for your consumer, your consumer will love you more. Most organisations have all the tech, people and other infrastructure that is needed to create scenario 2 like rich experience. What they lack is omnichannel and supported intelligent integrations. They do not use customer profile/ purchase history data intelligently to create circumstantial product bouquet, which makes them incapable of churning out products that can be upsold at that right instance quickly and they most certainly do not have a single screen for their support agent, which makes responses appear fragmented, ill-informed and mostly random to the customer, causing poor memory of the brand.
Integrate your CRM/order management system with capable Omni Channel solution, keep all options open for your customers to choose from, restricting your customers either to only voice or only data ( ChatBOT, email, form-based interaction etc) is not a wise choice to make. Use data analytics to create meaningful product/ service bundle and most importantly have a single screen set up, so that the support agent without sweating is able to give the most accurate and the most relevant information to the customer, thereby reducing customer effort.
Omnichannel is a good choice to make, invest in your systems to elevate the quality of customer interactions.