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Disruptive Technologies: Creating New Customer Experience Management Opportunities

Customer Experience Management is a good example where art and science converge very well. Empathy with the customer, service at the drop of a hat, single window and accessibility anytime anywhere are hygiene in Customer Experience Management. A recent research by Gartner indicates that, “89% percent of businesses will compete chiefly on customer experience in the next few years.” Growth of smartphones and individual ability to interact and explore machines has gone to a different level altogether.

Today's generation does not require any training to experience and interact with a software application. Customer may wait at a food joint replaced to pick-up the food that was ordered online to exploit amazing offers, has somewhat become a common phenomenon now. This has drastically raised the expectation of the customer and shifted the communication from humans to machines. You can easily place a request for misplaced insurance policy document or order a new cheque book with few clicks, while on a ride back home or even in the middle of the night. When this happens, it is imperative that machines become smarter, understand customer behavior better and can also predict what customers need which leads to faster customer satisfaction.

Enhance Customer Experience with Minimal Human Intervention

As per Gartner report, within the next five years, consumers will manage 85% of their relationships with an enterprise with no interaction with a human”. This study alone is portent of the future of customer experience management. As a disruptive technology, Internet of Things (IoT) necessitates that we revamp our existing processes in order to stay competitive and relevant in the long run. The machine to machine connection and communication enabled by IoT is creating new opportunities for redesigning and reacting to customer experience. Combining IoT technologies with Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and other futuristic technologies to track, monitor, and manage customer experience efficiently is not a distant dream anymore.

These next generation communication technologies will help organizations to stay connected with customers and collect real-time customer data through a multitude of channels with very little manual support. Many enterprises are currently using artificial intelligence and machine learning driven chatbots to deliver richer customer experience without human intervention. Chatbots facilitate warmer and smoother collaboration between businesses and customers without the need for a robust contact centre infrastructure or additional manpower. Chatbots will leverage the benefits of AI and IoT to optimize the entire customer management workflow. Each interaction can then be evaluated based on the customer’s feedback or follow-up actions to not only enhance the experience but also to identify and remove irritants. More and more organizations will gradually leverage these technologies to continuously exceed customer expectations. Technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) together enable enterprises to personalise customer experience. A business can combine AR and VR with varying analytics to deliver personalized experience to each customer by precisely identifying his behaviour patterns and needs in every possible scenario.

What is critical in serving customer is to cut down the layers in the customer life cycle. When humans get involved customer service becomes a multi step process, affecting the Turn Around Time (TAT) and service quality, where as the customer expects the same in real time, within seconds. Uses of these technologies facilitate the same. Businesses need to exploit the power and drive change in the organization in cutting down these inefficient handshakes. A culmination of business process review, STP and intelligence of machines - be it chatbots or AI engines; will have crunched all these in a single step in real time with greater consistency.

Interestingly, even Insurance companies are adopting IoT and smart devices. HDFC ERGO recently launched the Insurance Portfolio Organizer (IPO) app for the Apple watch with the intention to provide quick, hassle-free and easy access to services and vital information related to their insurance policies at anytime.

Omnichannel Customer Engagement

Today’s customer demands how he wishes to be serviced and often defies conventional wisdom of businesses. When we look at any online business segments, contrary to the belief that customer have more free time over the weekend and prefer to buy from comfort of their homes using smart phone, we rather see higher traffic and conversions during weekdays. This forces us to think of our approach with the customers. Customers now interact with offline channels, compares on aggregators sites, speak to the call center and finally goes online to buy. Hence, it is important to understand the customer’s journey and ensure he faces a consistent experience at each step. With an increasing number of users switching to smartphones and tablets, we have to make the entire customer engagement experience consistent across all channels. At the same time, we need to ensure that each customer can communicate with the organization through his preferred channel, and can switch between multiple communication channels seamlessly. The emphasis now has to be on creating a consistent omnichannel customer experience to receive customer input from various sources and respond to each customer with predictability and consistency

Emulate and Monitor Customer Experience with Specialized Analytics

Apps and tools to detect and predict customer’s behavior pattern assist businesses to choose the best channel for communicating with customers. Lengthy phone calls are de rigueur now, emails/chats/messages are the norm, and businesses just need to understand what a customer prefers based on the data collected. There are various types of apps.

Descriptive analytics help us to get an insight into the past, whereas predictive analytics make it easier for us to understand the future. At the top of the pyramid lies prescriptive analytics, which is used to decide future actions and take decisions based on the past experiences. Prescriptive analysis combines the other two intelligently to deliver an optimal customer experience. The next frontier of customer experience, hence, will be highly specialized customer experience analytics to visualize the customer’s journey, emulate the experience, and measure customer experience across multiple channels.

Switch from Conventional to Embedded Customer Support

A human touch cannot be replaced at every point, and truly speaking there is no match to a wonderful human executive helping customer with great empathy, but we see different customers behaves differently depending on the situation. Based on the situation, customers decide whether they would like to speak to an agent or simply use their smartphones to be self serviced. And this demands efforts to embed technology and the human interface at optimum levels, personalized to individual customers. Technology interface has to be intuitive, analytics driven and extremely simple to use.

Embrace - don’t avoid - disruptive technologies

With newer emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, machines are becoming much smarter than us humans and it is interesting how we will have clones of the best customer service executive, at a much lower cost and that works 24x7. This mix of art and science will define the success of customer experience management in machines.

Disruptive technologies, while creating new business models, are making our existing business models and industry best practices obsolete. The customers of today seek newer technologies, quicker responses and better results, be it in terms of service or product quality. Add to this the fact that the advancement in technologies, if properly deployed, can lead to improved operational efficiencies and bring about a culture of innovations. Upgrades to infrastructure, workforce, and business processes along with extensive research, new technologies to understand data and the willingness to embrace this paradigm shift are critical for survival.

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