With inflation rates still through the roof across most sectors, from energy to raw materials, businesses are struggling to keep their profit margins from tanking.
Millions of companies are being forced to take measures to mitigate escalating costs and decreased purchasing power from customers. They are tightening their belt one way or another, as they try to keep their business afloat during this economic crisis.
In this economy, every customer and purchase are invaluable. For that reason, tech-led companies especially have invested billions of dollars in making the customer experience (CX) as flawless and frictionless as possible.
Embracing Sophisticated Digital Transformation
Businesses are taking digital – including visual – transformation in CX seriously. From making payments as easy as using your smartphone camera’s facial recognition, to seeing how a piece of furniture will look in your living room with augmented reality (AR).
In fact, IDC predicted that DX (digital transformation) global spending, which encompasses CX, is forecast to reach nearly $3.9 trillion in 2027.
CX teams have embraced such sophisticated technologies to deliver simple, seamless customer-oriented solutions.
Their companies understand the financial impact that customer satisfaction has on the bottom lines. This has led to an increased customer-obsessed approach that will go to extremes in order to win at CX.
Amazon is probably the best example of this customer-obsessed approach, with its ambition to provide an outstanding level of service even if at the short-term expense of some margins.
How can this company turn a profit when a customer in New York City gets free delivery of toilet paper or a tub of ice cream within an hour? Have you ever had a problem with an item order: and it just simply sent you a new one without asking you to return the other item?
Of course, Amazon, and other companies that follow similar practices, are looking at the long-term value of the customer. They understand that customer loyalty over time will significantly balance in their favor.
Businesses are taking digital – including visual – transformation in CX seriously.
In spite of all these emerging flawless automated digital processes, there are always instances where customers will need help from another human.
Many products will require installation help, maintenance, or repairs. There is a delicate balance to managing CX during these occasions; the way in which companies handle these experiences will ultimately have direct links to customer retention and brand loyalty.
Looking at the market needs, challenges, and research on customer preferences and expectations, there are three key ways for companies to improve their CX.
All of them leverage different technologies to provide a more cohesive and frictionless experience while taking into account economies of scale.
In the end, fixing or improving these areas will help organizations save money through operational efficiency: while delighting customers with experiences that fuel loyalty and trust.
1. Build a seamless, continuous user experience.
Channel switching from self-service to live agent interaction has been proven by multiple studies to be the leading factor in increasing customer effort and frustration, resulting in lower customer satisfaction.
Needing to repeat information, interacting a second time, experiencing generic service, a lack of self-service options, or exerting additional mental effort to resolve an issue are all examples of high-effort customer dissatisfaction.
Survey data from TechSee’s State of the Service Report shows that in 2022, 95% of customers had to repeat themselves when contacting customer service.
Customer effort in omnichannel service flows is high. 45% of customers have to repeat themselves every time they are transferred across channels (e.g., chatbot to agent) or between agents.
The easiest way to explain or understand an issue is often seeing it in a picture…
Companies must aim for a seamless contextual transfer of data between self-service, live remote service, and field service interactions.
To achieve these successfully, the full omnichannel journey must be taken into account. And visual data can play a huge role in making this happen.
Imagine if your contact center agent has a visual record of images or videos taken by field agents. This ability could make an upcoming phone interaction much more efficient and wouldn’t require a frustrated customer to repeat information.
Also, what if your live agent could see the self-service solution a customer tried before as they pick up the phone? What if their colleague could see the visuals shared on the previous call? And finally, what if the field agent had access to all the visual records before walking into the customer’s house?
Access to contextual visual data provides the missing link needed to make interactions more efficient and effective. Delivering continuity within channels will significantly drive improved customer satisfaction and agent performance scores.
2. Embrace Computer Vision and Multi-Sensory AI.
Mainstream adoption of smartphones means customers communicate with hundreds or even thousands of videos and pictures every day.
The easiest way to explain or understand an issue is often seeing it in a picture, video, or even with an added layer of AR which provides guidance.
In fact, the State of the Service report revealed that customers strongly prefer visual guidance over verbal or textual instruction. 20% more customers stated they would rather receive visual instructions than textual instructions and 48% more customers prefer visual compared to verbal instructions.
The computer vision revolution is here. Its application to enhance the overall CX will be key going forward. Human beings are visual; pictures do tell us a thousand (if not more) words.
What’s more, the integration of Computer Vision AI (artificial intelligence) and Conversational AI brings new ways to empower organizations to offer full service automation through a new breed of multi-sensory AI across all digital channels including voice, chat, image, and video.
While there may be a reluctance to embrace emerging technologies, companies need to understand that it is not about dropping traditional communication channels. Instead, it is giving them a major upgrade with an added visual layer to capture crucial customer data to help inform every interaction.
Imagine how much time, energy, and money can be saved if a remote customer agent or field technician is able to see an image or video taken by the customer. Thereby eliminating the need for an in-person visit. Customers want their issues to be solved as fast and simply as possible. If this can be achieved remotely, instantly, and autonomously it significantly improves the overall CX.
The combined power of Visual Intelligence, alongside text-based tools like ChatGPT, gives organizations a way to provide uniquely personalized and context-aware experiences for customers. This includes responses to customer questions and technical issues at high levels of accuracy.
Customer interactions and service responses can be truly multi-sensory, available as text, synthesized voice, and augmented images or video.
Customers are open to innovation when it enables better service delivery. Survey data from the State of the Service report suggests that customers are open to submitting pictures (63%), using AI (73%), and receiving visually guided instructions (65%) in order to receive faster resolution.
Bottom line: embracing these tools to establish more efficient, automated, and vision led CX should be a top priority.
3. Focus on Self-Service and Automation.
Customers prefer to resolve any problems autonomously if and when possible.
Having said that, there is huge room for improvement to meet customer service expectations, with our research through the State of the Service report showing that 67% of U.S. customers are dissatisfied with existing self-service solutions.
Additional data from Gartner suggests that only 9% of customers report solving their issues completely via self-service. Developing better self-service experiences will help companies improve operational efficiency and reduce unnecessary costs.
What’s more, companies should also leverage existing self-service channels, such as automated chat, phone, and messaging, to capture visual information, including video and images.
If an issue then needs to escalate to an agent (remote or in-person), they will have all the content needed for a faster resolution.
More advanced companies will go beyond simple visuals and add a layer of AI to their self-service protocols, leveraging computer vision that is able to guide customers to perform activities in real time.
…companies should also leverage existing self-service channels…to capture visual information…
For example, when installing a new device you could use AR through your smartphone to guide you step-by-step through the set-up experience, showing you which plugs need to be connected, or what a flashing light in your router means. This could ultimately eliminate the need for cumbersome manuals or confusing YouTube explainer videos.
Build Loyalty at Every Touchpoint
The north star for CX needs to be building loyalty at every touchpoint. With user journeys becoming increasingly digitized and fragmented, companies will need to make a big effort to create holistic omnichannel experiences. Where every touchpoint is leveraged as an opportunity to please customers.
Today, consumer stickiness is impacted mostly by CX. With 80% of customers churning due to dissatisfaction with service quality, according to the State of the Service report, this is not something brands can ignore.
Customers are ready…to embrace technology that helps them directly manage any processes or issues…
Customer expectations when it comes to customer service are at an all time high. We have experienced a real boom in eCommerce and instant gratification. As customers we have quickly adopted technologies to manage our life from our smartphones: from our bank accounts, to Zoom meetings or Uber rides.
There is an expectation, then, for technology to help us seamlessly and autonomously manage so many aspects of our lives that no longer require a phone call or an in-person visit to the shop, the bank, or even the office.
Research from the Customer Service Institute, reported in a paper by Hoovers shows that existing customers account for 65% of a company’s business. That’s because consumers like staying loyal to brands when they connect with them and build strong relationships. Nurturing loyalty and satisfaction with the right tech will be key to customer retention.
Customers are ready and keen to embrace technology that helps them directly manage any processes or issues when possible.
However, if and when they do need assistance, it must be provided easily by agents equipped with the tools that empower them to handle a situation successfully, quickly, and efficiently.
From virtual visits to AI-powered assistance, there is a plethora of tools available to optimize the performance and cost of any customer interaction. These provide a huge opportunity to differentiate and grow through exceptional CX.