Opinion

The breaking point: Keeping the human in customer experience

5 min read

22 March 2018

By now, business owners and entrepreneurs know building a successful company starts with the customer experience. In fact, 72 per cent say improving the experience is at the top of the list.

It’s clear that customers are driving brands to transform, and many organisations are turning to technology to make necessary CX improvements. The answer to cultivating brand loyalty doesn’t lie solely in technology and, in the race to stay competitive, business leaders are losing touch with the very customers they are trying to serve.

The customer experience is at a breaking point and, in a sea of new technology, companies must find ways to maintain the human touch.

Customers are communicating with companies via multiple channels, and organisations are struggling to keep up. This year alone the number of customer communication channels is expected to grow from nine to 11. For many companies, the focus is now squarely on technology channels. Whilst it’s important to serve customers “anytime and anywhere,” organisations are failing to give customers what they actually want.

Now more than ever, customers are looking to connect with real people. It’s the people in the contact centre who can truly personalise every interaction, and business leaders must recognise them as the foundation to customer experience success.

Technology does not equal brand loyalty

A personalised customer experience can go a long way in the eyes of a customer. Some 44 per cent are likely to repeat a purchase if that experience is right. However, to manage the influx of interactions across channels, companies are increasingly leveraging new solutions such as artificial intelligence, voice search and chatbots to assist contact centre representatives in serving customers.

By 2020, more than 80 per cent of companies will be using chatbot. But whilst these automated solutions do give call centres greater reach, business leaders cannot afford to make hasty decisions under the guise of staying competitive. Technology deployments are only effective if the right strategy and goals are in place, and often, when these implementations are rushed, the priority becomes technology over people.

According to a report entitled Humanity in the Machine, customers are happy to use self-service options to quickly and easily get answers to their questions. But if the answer is neither quick nor easy, 61 per cent of customers become frustrated. To curb that frustration, it’s important for businesses to design a plan that allows customers to get the human help they want at the right time. In fact, 79 per cent want to knowa human is ready and available when they need them the most.

Though it’s easy to think of a contact centre as antiquated, customers are still picking up phones. Recent reports show contact centre call volume has gone up by 39 per cent in the past 18 months. Technology can’t solve every issue, and when it can’t, the contact centre must be ready to meet customer needs. To be successful, business leaders must implement the right tools and technology to equip and enable agents to offer a personalised experience.

Putting people at the centre

Avoiding a breaking point is simple so long as customer experience strategies are centred around people. With a vast landscape of available technology, it’s important to step back and evaluate the long-term benefits to both employee and customer. By mapping the customer journey and soliciting feedback, leaders can develop omnichannel strategies that allow agents to be effective every step of the way.

Whilst technology is a great first point of contact, self-service and automated services must be backed by 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 business leaders to view them as critical to customer experience success.

Customers want human interaction, and it’s the agents in the contact centre who have the power over the interactions that build brand loyalty. By finding the right balance between tools, technology and people, business leaders can design the ultimate customer experience.

Kris McKenzie is senior vice president and general manager for EMEA at Calabrio