How do companies live up to ever changing customer needs?
It feels like a tough question for any business to answer and having spent nearly a decade working at AO.com, heading up their Customer Operation, I found the three biggest challenges centred around creating choice, convenience and ease for customers. These principles seem straightforward on the face of it but put these into practical terms and it becomes a complex conundrum.
With increasing contact volumes, resource shortages and legacy systems that do not allow for single customer views, frictionless personalised journeys or service, the struggle to keep up with customer expectations is significant for those leaders striving for not just a customer first approach, but also an equally important employee first approach that underpins its service and reputation.
AO obsess about the Customer, and this is reflective in their CSAT scores, customer loyalty and revenue growth, but like most businesses, they too juggle the challenges mentioned above. Through the introduction of Intelligent automation, we were able to reduce the impact of some of these challenges and in the first phase of delivery, 25,000 hours of employee time was freed up allowing the time back to focus on the real value add of their role and as an upshot, the service provided to customers increased significantly with speed of answer metrics taking a positive trajectory.
“67% of customers say their standard for customer experience has never been higher”
Having been responsible for a Voice of Customer (VOC) programme, I know only too well how customer expectations are rising and their need for fairer prices, faster deliveries and easy customer service is paramount.
Via the VOC programme, consumers and customers were surveyed regularly and over 75% of respondents concluded that they were willing to pay more for a better quality of customer experience, how this holds up as we find ourselves amid a cost-of-living crisis remains to be seen. With a mix of rising customer expectations and inflationary cyclones it is easy to understand why leaders are feeling the pressure.
So how do customer experience leaders crack the conundrum?
Primarily, leaders must focus on using data to drive insight into the design of its journeys and experiences; centred on improving pain points across their customer and employee journey to drive actionable value to both. That sounds easy!
“Data-driven organisations are not only twenty-three times more likely to acquire customers, but they are also six times as likely to retain customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable”Mckinsey Global Institute
Data utilisation brings its own challenges but is a key ingredient to any successful customer focused organisation. A high proportion of businesses have vast amounts of customer data buzzing about its data centres or floating around in the cloud but don’t have the understanding or capability to turn the data into action to drive value or even more simply, make data easily accessible to its employees.
You can have an army of data scientists stringing data together, designing sophisticated machine learning algorithms, capturing and translating data patterns but still achieve nothing of significant value for your customers or employees.
“Knowledge is all about knowing it and intelligence is about using it”Prabakaran Thirumalai
“…Using it…” is a crucial part of any customer strategy and is the reason why intelligent automation (IA) is having a well-earned place on customer strategies.
Here we explore three areas where intelligent automation can add tangible value to an organisation’s customer and employee experience.
Customers expect to be given their channel of choice when interacting with a brand, with millennials centennials and Gen Z’s preferring to use social as a channel of engagement, Gen X, Baby Boomers and the Silent Gen prefer phone; to meet the demands of all customers, a business should offer up all channels. This can be an operational nightmare for contact centre leaders who strive to manage communications in one place, route tasks and contact through skills-based allocation and resource plan to ensure average speed of answer and handling times are effective and efficient. Automation played a key role in the centralisation of customer comms at AO, employees were navigating multiple communication platforms to manage contact; automation introduced a single comms view; reducing average handling times by a third.
Intelligent automation is an enabler for achieving contact reduction through deflection capabilities; capitalising on self-inform and self-serve services through the development of customer portals that facilitate order management, exposure of dynamic content and communications derived from the insight served by machine learning algorithms, through to interactive FAQ and virtual assistants that link in and out of business wide data sources to ensure customers are served well and at their convenience and with ease.
“86% of customers now expect online self-service options”Microsoft
Knowing your customer is a want. 60% of consumers report that they will become repeat buyers after a personalised purchasing experience (Twillio). Automation supports the delivery of personalised journeys. Consumer and customer data which provides behavioural insight can be fed through to automation software to trigger targeted campaigns and promotions. Intelligent Automation also has the real advantage of dipping into vast and complex system infrastructures where customer data is scatter some or decentralised to bring the data into a single customer view; and what’s more, without the need for convoluted and timely API integrations.
Customer experience employees appreciate the value this capability serves, they have order history, CSAT scores, communications and preferences all in one place ensuring they provide the best personalised customer support, a single navigation whilst having next best actions at their fingertips. Automation when blended with technology and humans; offers a succinct and effective operation, wholistically, businesses can capitalise on handling time reductions, process adherence and revenue generation.
Intelligent automation nurtures customer service advisors allowing them the capacity to provide an elevated customer experience through frictionless first-time resolutions from automated customer data exposure, interactive knowledge hubs which provide ease of access to policies, processes and procedures and automated task management that reduces the number of clicks needed to perform a task.
“71% of customers expect customer service agents already to have information regarding their previous interactions with the brand”Radial
As a by-product of IA, eNPS is also elevated as employees are now spending less time navigating multiple systems to support customers and focussing more time empathising and resolving the issue or query at hand. Forbes surveyed 302 senior executives involved in the implementation of Intelligent Automation and Robotic Process Automation worldwide and discovered that 92 percent indicated an improvement in employee satisfaction as a result of these initiatives. In addition, 52 percent said employee satisfaction increased by 15 percent or more after implementing RPA.
Having introduced and implemented intelligent automation in the front, middle and back-office at AO and realising benefits quickly, with average handling times halved, CSAT score rises and important data exposure, I decided to join Robiquity earlier this year to support other businesses to introduce and expand on the valuable capability that automation offers.
Robiquity is an agnostic intelligent automation specialist which enables businesses and their people the time to fulfil their core purpose. The value Robquity offer uniquely is that we have the experience of re-thinking and designing your customer operations and core processes with an automation first mindset. Automation. Done
Please contact Jen Hollowood-Smith to discuss how Robiquity can enable you to fulfil your automation potential, whether that be introduction or to support the evolution of existing automation landscapes.
Global Head of Consumer Markets Jhollowoodsmith@robiquity.com