Customer experience is a top focus for organizations in the digital age, and for many businesses, it is their number one focus. Happy customers lead to more sales due to a better reputation, increased loyalty, and higher customer retention. It’s not just about meeting customer expectations but exceeding them to the point of wowing the customer. It’s about creating positive memories and experiences for customers so that your company is the first and only company they think of when they need to buy a product that you offer. It’s also about building an effortless customer experience so that customers find it easy and pleasant to interact with your company.
In the digital age, we’re not short on options when it comes to almost any type of product. Being unique in terms of the products you sell is becoming more and more difficult every year. Being unique in terms of price is also extremely difficult. The mega organizations can afford to offer the same products for a fraction of the price that smaller companies can offer them for. This is due to economies of scale. It’s also because the very large companies can actually afford to make a loss on some products.
For example, it’s no secret that Google struggles to make a profit with YouTube. Video hosting is extremely expensive, and while advertisements can help cover some of the costs, they often don’t go all the way. YouTube allows anyone to upload content as long as they need the guidelines set out on the platform. This is great for aspiring content creators. However, it’s not always great for YouTube itself. YouTube has to pay to host that video whether or not it makes any money or is even eligible to have advertisements on it. Some users simply upload videos just so they can have an online record of their wedding video to share with friends and family. They have no intention of making money from this content.
So, why does Google still keep YouTube running? Because they make enough money from their other pursuits that they can eat the cost of YouTube even in months where it doesn’t make money.
Smaller businesses, even medium-sized businesses, and some large businesses simply can’t compete with this. Instead, they have to compete with customer experience. It turns out that customers are willing to pay more to have a great experience with a company. And this is exactly where smaller businesses can excel, especially with the help of AI and automation.
What is Effortless Customer Experience?
Effortless customer experience is about removing the friction in the customer journey and building customer loyalty as a result.
Don’t Make Exceeding Expectations Your Main Focus
This might sound counter-intuitive, but there’s more to creating an effortless customer experience than exceeding customer expectations. The problem with exceeding expectations is that it requires an often-immense amount of effort and customer expectations are always shifting. The first time that you exceed expectations, you have wowed the customer. The second time they might still be very impressed. However, this wow factor will decrease with each time and become the new normal. At this point, you are no longer exceeding expectations
Research by Gartner suggests that customer service interactions are almost four times more likely to lead to disloyalty than an increase in loyalty. Why does this happen? It’s most likely due to low effort customer service. Gartner compiled a list of 7 customer service agent profiles, with each profile representing how attentive, efficient, and knowledge an agent is. Other factors like job satisfaction and experience in the company can also affect how likely a customer service agent is to provide good service to customers.
With that in mind, here we’re going to focus on how to create an effortless customer experience through AI and automation. These tips might help you exceed customer expectations, but that isn’t their main focus, just a nice benefit. The focus is on making the experience seamless for customers and making the internal company operate as a tight machine with built-in efficiency and precision.
How to Create Effortless Customer Experience Through AI and Automation
Automated Call Routing
Before we dive into how automated call routing helps create an effortless customer experience, it’s a good idea to look at the Gartner’s 7 types of frontline customer service reps. By analyzing and expanding on these 7 profiles, we can help see why it’s important to route customers through to the right agent.
- The hard worker – This rep is characterized by being detail-oriented, deadline-oriented, and persistent in their work.
- The empathizer – This rep enjoys helping others with their problems and is focused on understanding human motivations and behaviors.
- The innovator – This rep prefers variety and will get bored performing the same tasks all the time. They are good at adapting their behavior to different problems and like to think of new ideas.
- The controller – This rep is very talkative and expressive and understands their strengths and weaknesses.
- The rock – This rep is relaxed in their work and calm under pressure. They have a positive outlook and expect things to turn out well. They are also resilient and difficult to offend.
- The competitor – This rep is competitive and likes to win. They are fast decision-makers, like to beat targets and enjoy changing other people’s views.
- The accommodator – This rep trusts others and believes what they say. They enjoy the company of others and like to include other people in their decision making.
These are the seven main personality types that you find in call centers, but they are not all equally represented. For example, it’s thought that 32% of agents are empathizers. Interestingly, controllers deliver the best low effort customer service, performing 10% better than the average across all groups, and yet these are the least attractive when it comes to hiring. By low effort customer service, we mean the questions and problems that are easy to solve and don’t require a high degree of experience in the product or a lot of company knowledge. Controllers likely excel at this because they build up a good rapport with customers.
So, how can automated call routing help with this? Automated call routing is a form of AI and automation that routes customers to the right agent. First, you can organize your agents by personality profile, and then organize customer problems by type. You can then route customers through to the best agent. So, for simple low effort customer service tasks, you can route customers through to a controller personality type. For highly complex problems with a very irate customer, you can route the customer through to the rock personality type. The innovator personality type can get a good mix of customer issues and be the “go-to” problem solver when the perfect agent personality profile isn’t available.
You can divide your agents up in different ways, it doesn’t have to be on personality type. It can also be on their experience and longevity in the company or something else entirely. The idea is that you want to put some thought into who your customers talk to reduce the risk of causing disloyalty and create a frictionless experience.
When customers are routed to the right agent, the problem will be resolved quickly, and the customer won’t be passed from agent to agent and become more frustrated. Friction is reduced in the overall process.
Companies now collect huge amounts of data on their customers and this data is full of valuable information that can help you improve the customer experience. Today, it’s all about personalization. You can use AI and data analytics to create customer segments and create better content for these customers. When it comes to email, this content can be personalized marketing email, targeted blog posts, or a newsletter that only consists of the information that will be relevant to that customer.
Automation can also be present in things like a smart inbox for agents. Smart inboxes empower agents to do their job well by bringing forward the most important or time-sensitive emails. Agents can then manage their time more effectively and solve customer issues more quickly. When customer issues are solved in the most efficient way, the customer experiences less friction and perceives the company to be capable and trustworthy.
Chatbots are a great addition to any customer service operation for many reasons. They allow businesses to continue offering customer service outside of their usual operating hours, transforming them into a 24/7 company. They are great at streamlining the sales path and providing the sales team with great leads. They are also great at fixing problems before they occur. They are designed to be responsive and fast and to anticipate what the customer wants. they do this through AI and the wealth of customer data the company has at their fingertips. The more data you have and the more the chatbot can learn through machine learning, the better your chatbot will be at solving problems before they even happen.
Increased Productivity Through Omnichannel Platforms
Omnichannel platforms with built-in Ai and automation help drive incremental increases in productivity that can benefit the whole business. Omnichannel platforms are built to be user friendly and highly efficient.
This means that they reduce friction for agents trying to do their job. Siloed applications can be a huge problem for businesses because it means data is disconnected and disjointed. It means that you never have the full picture of data and therefore AI and automation can’t work its magic the way it normally would. It also means that agents might be working with erroneous customer data when trying to solve problems, and this can lead to increased friction for customers.
Agents can also lose a lot of time throughout the day, week, month, and year by doing repetitive tasks or switching between systems. These tasks may only take seconds or a few minutes, but this time adds up and over the year can lead to many hours of lost time. With their built-in efficiency, omnichannel platforms help to drastically reduce this time because agents no longer have to switch between platforms. They can do everything in one place. This not only means that customers aren’t left waiting around for agents to perform tasks, but it also means that agents are happier and more supported in their role. When agents are supported by the right technology, they will find their job easier and more satisfying and will be less likely to leave the company. The more agents that stay, the more expert knowledge and experience that stays in the company. This has a way of creating a more frictionless experience for all customers in the future.