How companies can use emerging CX technologies to improve customer retention
Article by Customer Science associate director Colin Smith.
With the global economy tightening and domestic business conditions deteriorating, Aussie companies are hunting for ways to retain and grow their customer bases.
In many cases, this hunt involves the introduction of new customer experience (CX) technologies and tools. Companies believe such additions will help them better target marketing, deepen relationships and reduce customer defection.
When considering new CX technologies, however, there are three big pain points that need to be dealt with. They are:
- Knowing exactly where a new project should be focused
- Defining the scope of the project.
- Avoiding getting caught up in the hype around new emerging technologies.
Both points are best illustrated with an example. Customer Science recently worked with a local Australian council that was looking for a way to improve the functioning of its customer contact centre.
The council had identified some knowledge management software it felt could help contact centre agents more easily access the information they needed to deal with calls and emails.
While the project started on a positive note, things quickly went downhill. Other parts of the council decided they could also make use of the software and so the scope was expanded.
Then, others suggested a planned new council intranet could do the same job, thereby making the proposed new software redundant. After contemplating terminating the original project, a decision was finally made, and it was completed. Unfortunately, the changes and delays meant something that should have been finished in months took more than two years.
This example is far from being an isolated incident. Organisations across the country regularly face delays and even failures of planned projects because of these types of factors. A better approach is required.
The need for a clear strategy
As a first step, it’s important for any organisation to be crystal clear about what it wants to achieve with the introduction of new CX technology.
There are five key steps to take:
- Identity a clearly defined problem to solve
- Recognise the CX technology trends that are poised to affect your sector
- Determine which of these are relevant to your specific organisation
- Prioritise this shortlist
- Develop a clear roadmap for their introduction
This last step is particularly important as it helps to avoid a scenario where a proposed CX technology or tool follows the track of Gartner’s famed Hype Cycle.
This can occur when a new CX technology begins with ‘inflated expectations’, but then organisational changes and delays result in it sliding into the ‘trough of disillusionment’.
At this point, however, with strong leadership and a determination to get things over the line, you can enter the ‘slope of enlightenment’ phase. Here, rather everyone thinking the new technology is going to revolutionise everything, they can instead focus on specific use cases and benefits.
If this is achieved, you’ll finally reach the point where the project is completed and delivering value to your organisation – the ‘plateau of productivity’.
When you take the decision to introduce a new CX technology into your organisation, a lot of thinking needs to be done. It’s important to get back to fundamentals such as who your customers, how you are going to best serve them, and via which channels. You then need to identify who is responsible for each component and involve them in the project.
Then, rather than trying to roll the new technology out company-wide, begin with a smaller, proof-of-concept trial that can show all the groups it actually works and delivers value to them. Once this has been completed, the technology can be deployed more widely.
Keep an eye on the future
Deploying CX technologies is not something you can do once and walk away. Because they are evolving at an ever-increasing rate, it’s important to monitor what is emerging and how it might benefit your organisation.
Some of the latest on the list include:
- Predictive analytics which can scour large volumes of customer data and identify trends that can help improve the CX that can be delivered to them
- Chatbots and virtual assistants which can be used to triage calls and emails, answer basic questions, and forward more complex queries to a human
- Event-driven application architecture which is the ability for different systems across an organisation to come together and make intuitive decisions that boost customer service.
At the end of the day, it’s all about identifying and deploying technology that can help your organisation better understand its customers and deliver better CX. In times of economic uncertainty, getting this right has never been more important.