In his previous article for Field Service News, Mark Brewer, Global Industry Director, Service Management, IFS introduced the concept of the experience economy, now he outlines why digital transformation is the key to driving it forwards…
Here’s a scary statistic. The average person clicks, taps or swipes a mobile device 2,617 times a day. It shows just how much time we now spend interacting with the online world. Banking, booking holidays, shopping, socialising and so on, we increasingly live our lives through a screen. And with every interaction, we expect a particular level of service in return.
With digital technologies continuing to advance rapidly, along with consumers’ understanding of the possibilities they enable, people demand an immediate and seamless experience whenever and however they make contact. These expectations, which are already prevalent in the home, have now evolved in the workplace. This has major implications for the planning and delivery of service, and specifically how companies look to drive customer loyalty (and ultimately retention) via a superior experience.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have a significant role to play here. AI isn’t strictly new of course. But what is new is the way it influences today’s experience economy by affecting outcomes, driving engagement and in many cases scaling the human.
A comprehensive customer contact strategy is essential for any service organisation. Traditionally, this has focused on voice or email; now it includes an entire omnichannel capability with multiple media touchpoints. As you’d expect, this evolution is being driven by younger age groups. 26 per cent of millennials use social media and 29 per cent use texts and messaging apps to reach out for service, while three-quarters of all people over 44 years of age prefer using more traditional means such as emails or phone calls.
For example, if you want to book an appointment for someone to come and service your boiler, you can organise it without having to speak to anyone, online. A chatbot replaces the ‘real’ person. This is more convenient for you, more cost-effective and efficient for the organisation you’re talking to – but it also raises your expectations.
This means responses must be faster, and there’s no room for error. There’s no time for long calls with operators or the patience to be passed from department to department. And gratification must be swift and successful, however you interact – whether via a web portal, email, virtual assistant, or even an instant messaging service like WhatsApp.
74 per cent of companies offer some form of self-service for customers – and the majority have implemented it specifically to improve customer experience
This can be problematic. Many companies can’t afford to extend their contact centre facilities to multiple locations, or cater specifically to every market they’re working in.
However, help is at hand with virtual contact centres which can make efficient use of distributed and varied workforces, automatically matching agents with requests and customers. This also drives a more responsive, agile, and scalable workforce where agents can engage in multiple simultaneous conversations using multiple chat sessions and providing consistently high service levels.
The B2C world already does this pretty well. 74 per cent of companies offer some form of self-service for customers – and the majority have implemented it specifically to improve customer experience. B2B organisations need to follow suit. The rewards are big for those who do it well. Companies with effective omnichannel communications enjoy 28 positive customer experiences for every one negative experience, while companies without this experience just two positive experiences for every one negative*.
It’s a no-brainer. Doing omnichannel well can create up to 14 times more positive customer experiences. Crucially, this also influences customer loyalty. To look at it another way, your business will potentially only lose one in 29 customers, as opposed to one in three!
Powering the experience
The driver here is digital transformation, enabling new levels of service provision. Customer interactions differ based on age, demographics and preferences. Digital supports them all. It’s no longer just your customer services department talking to these customers, it’s your equipment, IoT sensors, AI, chatbots and more: predicting behaviour, recommending actions, solving issues, intuitively. The more it does this, the smarter it gets.
This technology is transformational and can bring huge benefits to your business. However, you need the right infrastructure in place to manage it.
So, what next?
To see examples of how IFS has helped customers drive digital transformation in their operations, and understand how omnichannel customer engagement can improve your customer’s experience, visit ifsworld.com.
*Forrester: The role of emotion in customer experience
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