The age of digital adoption is well underway. This technology enables users to fully use digital tools to become entirely self-sufficient and competent. One of the most pressing needs for digital revitalization is enhancing customer relations.
But it takes more than just installing new software to gain the full benefits of the digital adoption process, especially when upgrading to a better CRM platform. The commitment must be company-wide to ensure getting all the benefits of your tech investments.
Customers need to engage in experiencing all the platform’s customer-facing features. Employees, too, should not limit themselves to only using bits and pieces of the customer experience (CX) software platform.
McKinsey & Company estimates that digital channel adoption fast-forwarded five years in the first eight weeks of the pandemic. Consumers expect to continue using digitally enabled services that go far beyond voice, emails, and chat to also encompass the internet, apps, and more. Many of these tools are designed to be self-service that are supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
With that accelerated adoption in mind, the NICE CXone platform delivers a comprehensive agile customer experience solution on a cloud-native CX platform. It provides a digital-first, hyper-personalized and adaptive environment for both consumers and employees.
Gartner recently recognized NICE CXone as a 2021 Magic Quadrant Leader for Contact Center as Service (CCaaS) for the seventh consecutive year.
“As an organization with a proven ability to execute, we are looked to by companies facing uncharted waters for everything digital, for work-from-anywhere, for hyper-competition, for the always-on, everywhere brand presence needed to succeed now and well into the future,” Chris Bauserman, vice president at NICE CXone, told CRM Buyer.
Pursuing Future Vision
That continuing achievement is a result of NICE’s commitment to help organizations digitally transform to better meet the needs of consumers in the fastest, most convenient, and most effective way possible, according to Bauserman. Increasingly, customers across all generations prefer the speed and convenience of digital self-service experiences.
When a complex need arises, customers expect to be connected to a well-prepared agent who can quickly resolve the situation. That fix must be applied in a way that leaves both the customer and agent feeling great about the outcome, he noted.
This next generation of CX interaction management goes well beyond the traditional contact-center-as-a-service offering. It unifies digital and self-service experiences and advanced AI to make every customer journey seamless and special.
New Customer Journey Underway
The throes of the pandemic forced a change in the customer journey process. It fundamentally and permanently altered consumer behavior and expectations, Bauserman observed.
“As technology-enabled consumers [expected] to get what they needed from the comfort and safety of home, people found alternatives and safer ways to transact with businesses,” he offered.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of contact centers, which became the primary touchpoint customers had with organizations. Digital capabilities, many of them infused with artificial intelligence, have made contact centers the hub of customer experiences.
“No longer just another pit stop along the customer journey, contact centers are the front door to organizations, welcoming customers and connecting them to the expertise and services they need,” said Bauserman.
In the last 12 months, consumer expectations have taken a quantum leap as more customers turn to online engagements in lieu of brick and mortar locations. Furthermore, it is not just the service and support they want. Consumers’ demand for instant gratification and satisfaction must be met to increase sales with both current customers and prospects, he explained.
CX leaders recognize that customers expect excellent service. Fortunately, the technologies now exist that allow contact centers to deliver superior service levels that scale on every channel.
“The challenge for many has been implementing these new technologies quickly enough to keep up with the supercharged changes in customer demand and expectations that have occurred during the pandemic,” he added.
Out With the Old
Digital tools previously available no longer serve the needs of companies in interfacing with their customers, according to Bauserman. Legacy tools only offer review and post-mortem coaching.
That can be valuable. But what if you could coach “in the moment,” to fix issues before they occur? The right tools can serve up information to agents to help quickly and correctly resolve issues. They can also listen and coach agents during their engagement to maximize the customer experience. This expanded functionality helps both customers and agents feel good about the interaction.
“In today’s competitive digital landscape, contact centers play an integral role in fostering customer relationships and building a community of highly engaged brand advocates,” Bauserman offered.
In With the New
The CXone customer service platform makes it easier for brands to align across all departments to focus on delivering the single goal of an improved customer experience. This means achieving optimal engagement at every stage in the buying journey, starting with the point of first contact.
“There are analytics tools and plenty of customer service tools and resources that will help set customers up for success with integrated technology and [an abundance] of customer-focused resources,” he said about the platform.
Plus, automated solutions like NICE’s Enlighten AI platform can help create more personalized customer interactions and a more efficient, enjoyable customer journey. Enlighten AI is a set of purpose-built AI technologies embedded across the NICE portfolio of solutions.
“This tool makes every CX application and process smarter in real time,” Bauserman said.
It analyzes every interaction to identify the successful behaviors that drive extraordinary experiences. NICE Enlighten AI offers an array of out-of-the-box self-learning AI solutions, including Enlighten AI for Customer Satisfaction, Enlighten AI for Complaint Management, and Enlighten AI Routing.
Preparing the Customer Journey
Businesses must focus on three key areas to build a more effective customer journey. The first empowers customers to help themselves.
Customers do not want to speak with an agent for their most common needs, Bauserman advised. They are looking for speed and ease in transactions so they can resolve issues themselves through digital self-service.
The second preparation step is helping associates better anticipate and solve customer issues. Customers are looking for instant gratification, something that cannot be achieved if a call back is required or if customers are put on hold while an agent scours multiple systems and information silos looking for answers.
“Help agents get it right the first time by giving them the information they need in the moment. Additionally, agents are better equipped to build trust with customers when they can deliver expert help and eliminate hold times or transfers to another agent,” he maintained.
Third, make sure customers feel good too. Part of creating a memorable customer interaction is an agent making an in-the-moment connection with the customer.
“In-the-moment soft-skill coaching by managers to agents can make every interaction a genuine personal connection,” said Bauserman.
Push Personalizing to New Plateaus
Personalization is a well-established business practice. Marketers segment buyers into unique groups and tailor marketing campaigns to each segment. Hyper-personalization takes personalization to the next level.
“Simply offering digital channels according to customer preference is not personal enough,” Bauserman said.
Instead, give customers the ability to move effortlessly between self-service and agent-assisted digital channels, he recommended. This can improve customer effort to deliver fast, convenient experiences in a way that feels channel-less.
Several building blocks can implement hyper-personalization in a business.
One is incorporating context and visibility into customer interactions across all digital and voice channels.
Another is creating visual maps to understand the steps a customer takes when interacting with the business. This allows you to understand and predict customer interactions such as buying behaviors and potential churn risk.
Also, mapping efforts should be complemented with customer surveys and analytics to listen to what customers are saying and determine their sentiment, is a third example Bauserman offered.
Bauserman explained that a hyper-personalized customer experience standard is being driven by four key areas:
- Rapidly changing consumer expectations
- Demand for better digital experiences and faster self-service
- Fierce and relentless competition with tech giants disrupting all industries
- The opportunity to create a truly connected customer journey across all physical and digital touchpoints by using the latest AI and cloud technologies
“Meeting today’s expectation of hyper-personalization is only possible by harnessing AI and massive amounts of customer data across every touchpoint for your business: physical, digital and self-service, and traditional contact center,” he said.
Artificial intelligence aids the customer service journey in multiple ways. Three prominent approaches are:
- Tracking conversations in real time
- Providing feedback to agents
- Using intelligence to monitor language, speech patterns, and psychographic profiles to predict future customer needs
AI can also help gauge a customer’s personality and preferences, noted Bauserman. This is not only about simply identifying likes and dislikes of communication preferences — but about matching customers with agents that are best suited to interact with their personality type.
This creates a more personal customer connection resulting in improved sales, operational cost reduction, and customer satisfaction, he said.
“Ultimately, the real power of machine learning is anchored in automation and the ability of AI to continue to learn independently. So, with every interaction, AI can help shape the agent’s interaction with the customer, ensuring the customer is taken on a journey that will solve the problem accurately and efficiently.”