Three customer experience shifts partners should foster to deliver better client value

Steve Forcum, Director & Chief Evangelist, Avaya

Opportunities abound as COVID-19 finally begins to wane, especially for channel partners as customers reevaluate their digital investments and begin thinking through the best way to move forward. So many companies had to “MacGyver” solutions under the pressures of the pandemic just to maintain business. As we go forward (hopefully leaving COVID-19 far, far, behind us), firms across all industries will be wondering how to optimize their contact center investments and balance modern customer wants. Channel partners have an amazing opportunity to strengthen customer relationships and their service strategy by offering unique, consulting-led perspective. 

Here are three perspective shifts partners should embrace as they guide their clients towards customer service success:

  1. Operate from the customer’s lens, not that of the company 

Companies must operate from the customer’s lens and not their own. This perspective shift is crucial, and one partners should help clients understand as they engineer their business strategies and invest in technology. Automation, for example, was originally built around the contact center’s objective of doing more with less (ex: call deflection, ultimately to avoid putting more staff on payroll). Investing in automation makes even more sense now after the tidal wave of demand brought on by the pandemic. But don’t forget about this perspective shift. If your client invests, will their customer base actually use the technology? Or are they so conditioned to speaking with a live agent that they’ll skip around? 

The only way to know what really works for them is to find out directly through customer insights. These insights are collected through a comprehensive view of the customer journey using speech and text analytics, unified reporting (historical reporting and real-time dashboards), dynamic customer surveys, and other methods of data capture and analysis. I explore this further in point #3 below.

  1. Replace technical engineering with experience thinking for a better user experience 

When we call into a contact center, it’s usually because we have an issue that is complicated or important and we want to speak with an expert. Case in point: my cousin’s family went on their annual ski trip last month and one of their bags never made it on the flight. Even worse, the missing bag contained all their children’s ski gear. As you can imagine, my cousin wanted to speak with a live agent to get to the bottom of the issue. 

The last thing that would help in this scenario would be a robot greeting him and saying, “Tell me why you’re calling. You can say, ‘check my reservation,’ ‘status update,’ ‘make a new reservation,’ or ‘other.’” When most customers are greeted in this way, they’re ready to go to battle. The technology becomes something they need to defeat to get what they want (a live person). The risk here is great. For a regular inquiry, you’ve wasted your customer’s time and patience. For an emotionally heightened situation, there’s a real chance of losing business. 

Replacing technical engineering with experience thinking means placing experiences at the heart of any and all changes to operations. It allows companies to focus on the core of human interaction to give callers what they ask for. This might look like greeting them with a confirmation that their place in the queue is secure, and then asking them if they’d like to use your automated solution while they wait (versus forcing them to use it by default). Customers are given the freedom to create their own user experience in respect to their time, which can skyrocket the adoption of self-service for simpler requests while also fulfilling the contact center objective of doing more with less. 

  1. Apply experience thinking to measurements and motivations  

As mentioned before, most times when we call into a contact center it’s because we have a complicated or emotionally charged issue. At this point, it doesn’t matter how many calls are handled per hour or how quickly agents are able to handle calls. These metrics come from a bygone era; one where the calls to a contact center were transactional in nature (i.e., needing to make a payment, needing to change a password) and measuring operational efficiency made sense. Today, these transactional needs can be met using any channel. In fact, most of us prefer not to use phone for these kinds of simpler requests. 

Companies need to apply experience thinking to measurements and motivations. This is done through next-generation analytics like Net Promoter Score and Customer Effort Score, which emphasize the customer rather than operational statistics. These can be leveraged to gain actionable insights into customers’ experiences with a company’s brand, guiding not only customer service but the entire business to greater success. Companies need to work to understand the types of interactions that are happening and reward the right types of behaviors. Encourage your clients to find the right metrics that properly motivate their employees and properly satisfy their customers. 

The next few years will be ripe with opportunity for channel partners to help their clients deliver stronger, more relevant experiences. Be that trusted guide to help take their customer and employee experience to incredible new levels.