Jayaram Bha. The latest rage in Customer Experience (CX) is … well, customer experience. That is, the word experience is being emphasized more today than ever before across the entire customer journey.
Why? It’s one of the last frontiers for businesses to set themselves apart from the competition. That differentiation is critical because it only takes a few seconds for a customer to hop on their computer or mobile device and find an alternative if their existing vendor disappoints them.
This is where CX comes in, with businesses endeavoring to optimize each and every point of customer interaction. At its core is the need to shift the corporate mindset from being reactive to proactive.
While traditional customer service has been limited to responding to customer questions, issues, and complaints, the CX model broadens the focus to providing a smooth experience from the moment the customer begins interacting with a company, such as when they first view its website. A CX business approach requires eliminating customer pain points as much as possible — anticipating their needs and seamlessly providing solutions without them even having to ask.
Customer experience is being implemented in a number of different ways, with every organization striving to add its own individual touch. But there are two significant trends we’re seeing amongst businesses leading the CX pack.
Emphasizing Softer Skills
Stellar CX begins with the employees on the support and success teams who communicate directly with customers on a daily basis. Among these employees, there’s a transition underway that’s shifting emphasis from productivity-focused hard skills toward softer skills that include listening and empathizing with the customer, as well as a higher emotional IQ to enable agents to ask the right questions and gain a deeper understanding of each customer’s needs.
This is not to say that traditional service skills surrounding efficiency are no longer valued. But, the human element has become more of a focus on the hiring and training process. Ironically, one reason for this change in emphasis relates to the increased use of AI and Machine Learning. In the past, front-line agents have been concerned about machines taking their jobs. But what’s actually happening is the development of a cooperative relationship between people and systems.
AI-powered technology can rapidly sort through reams of customer data, including demographic information, order history, past support tickets, and a variety of other details. The system can then offer prompts to the human agent, enabling them to find the answers they need more quickly so they can focus more energy and attention on empathizing with the customer.
AI insights also provide revenue-increasing potential through upselling and cross-selling opportunities, making the strategy a win for customers and businesses alike.
Businesses may face a limited pool of qualified customer support and customer success candidates in their immediate geographic area. It can also be costly to maintain traditional, centralized call centers. For these reasons, many companies are turning to a more distributed CX model that allows them to find top talent, regardless of location.
This approach allows companies to leverage the best people while avoiding the overhead associated with maintaining an additional office. As a bonus, employees who are allowed to work from the comfort of their own home are 24 percent more likely to feel happy and productive in their roles, according to a study by Owl Labs.
Once businesses have attracted the desired talent, they must retain them! One way to do so is by taking advantage of currently-available technology to gain greater insight into the performance of support and success professionals.
Select a solution that allows managers to create reports showing key metrics for each employee, which can help highlight strengths as well as areas that can be improved with additional education and training. It’s also important that the software integrates with all of your existing tools in order to speed implementation and keep costs low.
Looking to the Future
The shift from a traditional customer service approach to a holistic CX model is real, and it serves a crucial purpose: gaining — and keeping — valuable customers. Incorporating it into your overall business strategy will improve internal collaboration, help you get the most out of your talent, and raise satisfaction levels to set you apart in your customers’ minds.