If you’re a regular reader of our articles, you’ll know how we feel about the importance of the customer experience: strongly. Businesses succeed or fail on the quality of their customers’ experiences, and that’s not just our opinion. Understanding the customer experience and all the elements that influence it has become a focal point in its own right for research and analysis.
One research report we’ve found that’s packed with valuable intel is PwC’s “Experience is everything: Here’s how to get it right”. Released in 2018 as part of its Consumer Intelligence Series, the report provides a high-level analysis of data they gathered from consumers around the world. Unsurprisingly, price and product are a given – after all, you can have the best customer experience in the world, but if your product fails or it’s too expensive (or too cheap), you’re not even going to get out of the starting gate.
Get the customer experience must do’s right. Now.
Understand what drives people to take their business elsewhere – In the PwC report, the Top 5 were 100% related to poor customer experience. Your customers want to feel valued, heard, respected. How your agents make them feel when they’re doing business is a big part of your brand value, which is what attracts your target market, and keeps them loyal.
Human and Machine, not Human or Machine – The best customer experience is one that’s streamlined, and technology is a fantastic facilitator of this. However, it can only do so much. If your customers need or want to talk to a human, they need to able to connect. Fast. And once they are connected, the agent will need to have all the information and resources they need to respond – fast. The right tech will let both the customer and the agent interact through a mix of voice, online and device-based functionality, but it’s the humans working together – agent with customer – that are in control.
Empower your agents – More than one metric in the report made it clear that agents’ attitudes and their capacity to help played a major part in the customer experience equation. In order to make your customers feel valued, you need to make your agents feel valued. Make sure they have the tools they need to help customers, and the level of authority they need to turn any bad experience around. Talk to your agents regularly to ask their opinions and advice on what systems are working, and what other resources or processes would help them serve your customers better.
Know what your customers don’t – PwC found that only 47% of executives understood how robotics and AI could help the customer experience. Your customers interpret a smooth transition from machine to human as excellent customer service. Their focus is on having their issue resolved with the minimum of fuss – no matter how complex. They don’t know how you do it, and they don’t need to. That ball’s in your court, and if you’re going to meet their expectations, it’s vital to know about how different tech tools can support your business. (You don’t have to be an expert though – that’s what we’re here for!)
Close the expectation gap
There’s a reason so much research is being done on the customer experience phenomenon. There’s still a gap – a big one – between what customers currently expect, and what they’re actually getting.
According to PwC, one of the best ways to close that gap is to train employees in the relevant skills – in technologies and processes, as well as in “soft” skills like customer service and dealing with challenging situations. Creating an internal culture where employees feel valued, and empowered to act for customers, is critical.
PwC also identified how much of a “price premium” customers are willing to pay for a customer experience that meets (or exceeds) their expectations. So, it makes good financial sense to understand how much of an expectation gap your business has now, and what you can do to close it.