In what way is the rapid advance of digital technology impacting today’s families, and to what extent is it changing the way family members interact with each other and the wider world? Popular series like the US sitcom Modern Family and Channel 4’s new hit drama, Humans, explore these concepts in detail.
As little as ten years ago, though, the content of these programmes would have been widely regarded as fanciful crystal ball-gazing. A show based on automated robots who carry out routine everyday tasks efficiently, or even simply an episode of a family sitcom taken up with a storyline that unfolds entirely on one of the character’s computer screens, might have seemed visions of a distant future. Yet, today, these scenarios are less far-fetched. Indeed, in many cases, technology is already capable of supporting this functionality.
This, equally, is the world in which today’s businesses need to operate. Increasingly, they need not just to be aware of these trends but to be putting in place customer engagement strategies designed to proactively capitalise on them. In fact rather than simply monitoring these developments, they need to start actively looking at ways to harness this technology and turn the new digital landscape to their advantage. This article looks at strategies companies can implement today to drive the customer experiences of tomorrow.
1- Understand the DNA of the Modern Family to Gain Insight into Customer Needs
If you want to understand a family and how it interacts, you increasingly need to understand its digital footprint and to get to the real heart of what makes it tick, you need to have an insight into its digital DNA. Today’s new breed of digital enterprises need to be able to understand the modern family, and in particular the digital DNA of the people who constitute it. After all, it is these individuals who are their customers today – whether as individual consumers or as businesspeople – and will continue to be in the future.
2- Segment Customers to Deliver the Service they are Looking for
We are living in an age of polarised customer service. While the younger generation will typically want to interact using tools like social media, web self-service or web chat, older customers may want to engage using email or traditional voice-based communications. Equally, while simple queries may be able to be handled through online FAQs, more complex queries or those that potentially have legal ramifications are likely to need human interaction.
3- Gather Customers’ Digital Information to Proactively Resolve Issues
The above is a useful starting point. Organisations need to segment their customers – but they also need to understand individuals’ precise needs.
At the point of engagement, businesses need to know what each of these customers is trying to do and who within their organisation is best-placed to help them achieve it. That’s where the ability to track digital DNA and accurately interpret it is so important. Organisations need to have captured and recorded previous interactions with each customer and use these to quickly analyse behaviour patterns and likely preferences, enabling them to route individual interactions to the point of contact best suited to address or resolve their query. It’s the kind of process that the likes of Amazon and Google do so well.
4- Optimise the Journey
Understanding the DNA of the customer is just one part of the process, however. Businesses also need to ensure that they have the right robust and flexible underlying infrastructure in place to be able to act on this understanding.
They need to think about what the best customer journey would ‘look like’ for a given customer trying to do a particular kind of interaction at a specific time of the day. Next, they need to look at how they orchestrate the people, processes and systems within the business to provide the best possible service to customers at an affordable price.
5- Build the Connected Enterprise and Deliver the Benefits to Customers
To do the above, businesses must implement integrated intelligent systems architecture, capable of routing calls and other modes of interactions either to experts who understand customers’ problems and can address them or to systems they can use to self-serve or otherwise obtain the answers they need.
This is the essential purpose of what we call the connected enterprise. To answer customer queries in this increasingly sophisticated environment, companies will need to draw on the skills of staff in the back, middle and front offices. By combining an intelligent flexible customer interaction platform with the latest unified communications (UC) technologies, organisations can create a connected business, where everyone is part of a virtualised customer support team focused on resolving customer engagements in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.
6- Think Ahead when Implementing a Technology Solution
One of the areas contact centres and customer service departments should increasingly be looking at is the role of artificial intelligence and automated service operations and the interplay between these areas and their staff and customers. It’s a dynamic that is changing rapidly as technology advances; people become more willing to embrace automated systems, and as those systems provide increasingly human-like interactions. The impact of these kinds of systems on family life is explored at length in Humans but it’s in the world of business that this kind of technology is likely to have the biggest influence.
We are already seeing the use of robot agents in contact centres that can recognize and understand words and phrases and can automatically interrogate knowledge management systems and FAQs before escalating calls to human agents as and when required.
7- Remember its Digital by Design not by Default
Businesses are likely to raise the level of investment they make in this kind of technology in the future. The cost of servicing interactions in this way is, after all, very cheap but companies must not fall into the trap of pocketing all the extra money they gain as a result, as profit.
The chosen approach should effectively be digital by design not digital by default. Depending on the nature of their business, organisations are also likely to need to invest in competent human staff that can deal with those kinds of interactions and that can make use of technologies like unified communications or Skype for Business to reach out to customers and solve their enquiries.
The future vision outlined in shows like Modern Family and Humans is rapidly becoming a reality. In the future, businesses will increasingly need to ensure they are in tune and aligned with the digital worlds that are portrayed in these programmes. They will need to have systems and processes in place they allow to optimise the way they engage with customers while remembering that at all times service must be tailored to individual customers’ specific requirements. It’s a complex requirement but in looking to deliver it, following the top tips advice above would be a good place to start.
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