New tech will power memorable customer experiences
Parham Saebi, Head of Client Relations, CRM Solutions at Arvato UK & Ireland.
The customer service landscape is more competitive than ever, with businesses having to work harder to encourage brand loyalty. According to McKinsey’s Consumer Decision Journey database which covers more than 125,000 people globally – 87 per cent of consumers shop around before making a purchasing decision and 58% are now likely to switch brands regularly. Short attention spans and easy access to alterative products and services via the internet, mean businesses face a major challenge in keeping customers engaged and loyal.
The delivery of multi-channel customer service has been considered best practice for some time. Offering a wide variety of digital communication channels – social media, webchat, video – alongside traditional contact options, is still an important factor in delivering a seamless experience for customers. Yet, exceptional customer service will soon mean more than just allowing customers to get in touch when and how it suits them.
According to KPMG Nunwood, the UK’s leading customer experience think-tank, creating novel, memorable experiences, which give customers emotional peaks, is the new driver for loyalty. It’s here that the future battleground for customer retention lies and technology, from artificial intelligence (AI) to virtual reality, will present brands with a real opportunity to take advantage of this.
Video chat is an obvious, existing tool which can be used to create a memorable experience, by bridging the divide between physical products and services and digital communication. For example, two-way video chat already presents opportunities to support product queries or solve maintenance problems in one seamless interaction with a contact centre.
Taking that further, however, a customer service agent could respond to an enquiry by taking the customer on a virtual guided tour of a product showroom or store, to demonstrate a new product range, allowing them to download key information as they go.
As virtual reality (VR) technology becomes more readily available, there will be some exciting opportunities to enhance these kinds of interactions. Arvato has already been trialling VR as a training tool with our contact centre employees, but its ability to be used in a customer-facing role, holds a lot of potential too.
To take the automotive sector as an example, car showrooms are now increasingly digitised and linked up with contact centres. VR, therefore, presents an opportunity to not only provide customers with a showroom experience from their own homes but – with access to a headset – agents will also be able to take the customer on a guided tour of a vehicle or even on a virtual test-drive. While this won’t provide the customer with exactly the same experience as actually driving the car, it still has the potential to significantly accelerate the sales cycle and decision to purchase. Clearly, this is also a model that’s applicable to a range of different sectors and products.
The ability to personalise customer interactions also holds the potential to deliver a more memorable customer journey.
Achieving this in a contact centre setting can be difficult currently, given the small amount of data that agents are able to digest while speaking to customers across any given channel. However, cognitive systems, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) software, are now being trialled which will revolutionise what’s possible here. Acting as a virtual supervisor, the technology collects and analyses data from every touchpoint a person has had with a brand and shares it with the agent, recommending actions in real time, as they’re speaking to customers.
Theoretically, this kind of a comprehensive dashboard could also include broader information on the customer’s interests and lifestyle preferences, to predict their needs and provide agents with prompts based on their known preferences. For instance, if a customer has previously looked at a specific product online, or demonstrated they are looking for a certain service on social media, the software will provide this information to staff and give directions for next steps.
While new technology is fundamental to both of these examples, it’s important that the human element of customer service is always maintained. US analytics company Verint recently found 83 per cent of consumers believe dealing with a person will always be an important part of the customer experience equation. With that in mind, it’s those brand that can use digital technology to equip their agents with the tools to deliver memorable, personalised experiences which stand to come out on top in the battle for retention.
Parham Saeb is Head of Client Relations, CRM Solutions at Arvato UK & Ireland
Arvato is a trusted global business outsourcing partner to the private and public sectors in the UK and Ireland. With more than 50 years of experience in outsourcing, Arvato combines expertise in business process outsourcing (BPO), financial solutions, customer relationship management, supply chain management, and public sector and citizen services to deliver innovative, individual solutions. Arvato has long-term partnerships with some of the most respected companies in the UK and globally, as well as innovative public sector clients. Internationally, Arvato is a leading global BPO provider with over 68,000 people employed across almost 40 countries worldwide. Arvato has annual revenues of €4.8bn contributing over a quarter of the Bertelsmann group annual revenues of over €17.1bn.
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