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PIPELINE RESOURCES

Taking customer experience across the omnichannel

By: Stephen Pappas

In today's digital era, customers expect service within seconds—whether it's calling AAA to rescue them at midnight in an unknown area, contacting patient access personnel to schedule an important appointment, or getting in touch with a bank to pay their bill or buy their first home.

They expect to interact with brands from anywhere, at any time, and on any device. That makes improving customer experience—known as “CX”—an omnichannel challenge.

Certainly, there are business gains to be made via CX excellence. A survey by PwC found that consumers would pay up to 16 percent more for better CX, and that 65 percent of U.S. consumers find a positive CX to be more influential than advertising. Similarly, a Capgemini study found that 80 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience. And when it comes to financial performance, Bain & Company found that companies which excel at CX grow revenues four percent to eight percent above their market.

Therefore, it’s imperative for every company to provide a seamless experience across channels. That CX should be real time, meaning responsive in the moment regardless of the point of interaction (website, call center, app, chatbot, store), yet based on a consistent knowledge base.

Consider the experience of a customer trying to take out a loan with a bank. The first point of interaction might be the website, where one can look up information on loan types and features, but it lacks details like current interest rates. Enter a chatbot driven by artificial intelligence (AI) which can intelligently ask a few questions for the customer while gathering useful information in case the customer needs to be escalated to a human representative. Finally, the person may call a representative who uses a call center information system to answer further questions or make recommendations.

Within this banking scenario, you have three different interaction channels a customer might encounter. If the customer receives consistent, useful information, and his or her needs are screened quickly and intelligently, that’s good for CX. If, however, the website says one thing and the account representative another, and if the chatbot was perceived as a waste of time, the customer may give up and contact a different bank.

In effect, CX hinges on solid information, intelligent answers to customer needs, and content delivered quickly in ways that suit the interaction mechanism. But consistency can be tough to pull off when there are multiple customer touchpoints and two or three different systems serving up information. As a result, it’s wise to think about the type of technology foundation that supports consistency, speed, and purpose-fit content presentation—but only after you’ve established solid best practices around how you will manage the CX improvement effort.

Best practices first

Taking CX to its optimal level should begin with best-practice thinking about how your team will approach CX. This should precede layering in new technologies.

Some CX best practices are well understood, such as the need to involve top management, as well as making CX improvement a multi-disciplinary effort. In the early days of CX, it was often the marketing or customer service function that was left to drive the CX effort on its own, but in practice, excellence in CX is going to involve other departments like aftersales service organizations, information technology leadership, or the product management team.



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