Businesses turning to digital channels to improve customer satisfaction levels are faced with a double-edged sword that could hurt as much as help their efforts.Brands are mistaken if they believe that simply moving their customer service function to digital platforms will solve their customer satisfaction ills. In an age of customer centricity, technology is already helping companies improve their customer satisfaction levels, but technology alone cannot be relied upon to deliver results.

The reason for this is simply that the human element remains key to building trusting relationships. There are, however, significant benefits if the synergies between humans and technology can be unlocked through deeper integration between the two.

A recent study conducted by nlighten into corporate SA’s attitudes toward the customer experience, revealed that digitisation and technology (47%) receive a far greater slice of the budget than customer experience (18%). While this could be a reflection of the broader trend toward digitisation, it does also show a bias away from making real connections with customers.

The human touch remains essential

Admittedly, digital platforms are an important tool to help brands engage with their customers, but they do not work in isolation. For true, empathetic relations, the human touch remains essential. Support for this view was found in the nlighten Business CX Benchmark study, which was conducted during the third quarter of 2019 among mid- to senior managers and executives. The purpose was to establish a benchmark for SA Inc’s awareness of and approach to customer experience (CX).

We surveyed 13 sectors, including consulting, engineering, financial services, government, healthcare, logistics, outsourced services, property, retail, technology, telecommunications, tourism and transport. The most encouraging result was that there appears to be a greater appreciation of what CX can contribute to a business’s profitability. Nearly three-quarters of respondents see CX as a critical part of their overall business strategy, and that businesses able to focus on a better personalised service could improve their bottom-line results by at least 5%.

Therefore, while CX is definitely on the executive agenda, the responses to the survey support my hypothesis that despite that conviction, not much is being done about it. All too often, executives support the notion as a great idea, but it appears easier to view technology as the answer to CX woes.

Too few organisations are making full use of big data and artificial intelligence to personalise the customer experience. A well executed digital CX strategy should encompass all these possibilities and enable companies to offer a service that is truly tailored to each customer’s unique circumstances.”

A customer-centric approach rooted in a thorough CX strategy

This is visible in certain sectors, such as banking, in which they are reducing their physical footprint while investing more heavily in digital innovations. The question is, how this will affect customer service?

Especially since there isn’t always an increase in call centre agents to make up for the diminished capacity at branch level. Call centres across the globe are despised because of lengthy response delays to what might be simple queries, which flies in the face of delivering an outstanding customer experience.

This needn’t be the case if brands adopt a customercentric approach rooted in a thorough CX strategy. Take, for instance, the exceptional service that could be delivered if there was real integration between customer service channels. Dialling in to a call centre could be improved immeasurably if the call centre agent seamlessly picks up a query initiated on a digital channel. All too often, the process of identifying and verifying oneself starts from scratch, as does the explanation of the query. In a similar vein, too few organisations are making full use of big data and artificial intelligence to personalise the customer experience. A well-executed digital CX strategy should encompass all these possibilities and enable companies to offer a service that is truly tailored to each customer’s unique circumstances.

I believe the next evolution in CX will focus on these capabilities not only to improve the customers experience, but to cross-sell and upsell to customers because they truly understand their needs and preferences. The disproportionate spend on technology revealed in our study is therefore cause for concern. But only for those brands that don’t have a long view on how integrating that with a comprehensive CX strategy can deliver the results they’re looking for.

By Nathalie Schooling

 

This article was published in partnership with Media Xpose.

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