Life today is all about juggling distractions. People are overwhelmed by constant interruptions and multitasking; text messages and emails in a meeting, compulsively checking social media, losing a train of thought when a notification beeps. We are becoming less ‘present’ in the present.
This year during Zendesk’s global event series,The Future of CX, Zendesk founder and CEO Mikkel Svane spoke about digital distraction in his keynote. To summarise, people today check their phones roughly every 12 minutes and receive more than 64 notifications a day. And after those interruptions, it takes another 23 minutes to refocus. For those of us in the business of selling, they are some alarming numbers that serve to reinforce why it is imperative we find ways to cut through all the noise.
In addition to Mikkel’s keynote at The Future of CX, dozens of brands shared how they are living up to their customer experience (CX) promise, and several commonalities emerged. The most prominent was that good CX is not about deploying every technology available or having the most sophisticated strategy; it is about identifying what the business really needs and cutting out any white noise that takes away from it.
Here are some key learnings that will help to ensure your customer experience is authentic, efficient and focused on what truly matters to the people who matter most - your customers.
1. Make simplicity your number one goal
With so many touch points available for you to reach your customers and for them to reach you, it is easy to over-complicate your customer support system and feel like it is a scramble to be everywhere all the time. It is important to begin your CX strategy with a stocktake of your unique customer journey and the data you have at your fingertips. Who is contacting you where, when, and what are they trying to find out? Look for gaps and identify where to focus your efforts to make the journey as simple as possible for your customer. You do not have to do it all, but you have to do it well.
2. Do what you say you’ll do
Does your customer on-hold message say, “Your call is important to us”? If there is one golden rule when it comes to CX, it is to not overpromise and underdeliver. Making a customer wait for half an hour on the phone does not signal they are important to you. On the other hand, if your on-hold message accurately updates your customer on how many minutes they will have to wait, limits wait times by adequately resourcing teams, and also provides a call-back alternative, you are living up to your promise.
Being true to its promises and customers has been crucial to the booming success of fast food brand, Guzman y Gomez. In a straight-talking fireside chat, CEO and founder Steven Marks shared the importance of never compromising on product quality - which is his brand’s core promise to its customers. The company also requires anyone working in its customer service team to have worked on the restaurant floor, so they truly understand what the customer expects, are invested in the role, and can deliver a heightened level of passion and authenticity to customers.
3. Self-service like a boss
A recent report by Forrester found that 76 percent of customers prefer self-serviceto alternatives like email or phone support, and more than half of your customers will abandon their online purchases if they cannot find fast and easy answers to their questions.
When launching a self-service function, start with the top five articles in your help centre, as these account for roughly 40 percent of all daily views, according to Zendesk data. Then you need to become as nimble as possible, with ongoing updates to self-service content generated through agents and machine learning capabilities that ensure it never becomes a ‘set and forget’ channel. To streamline and optimise your customer experience, it makes financial and operational sense to invest in self-service channels that become the customer’s first port-of-call.
4. Omnichannel is a must
Simply having a variety of communication channels open is not enough for today’s customers. Businesses that are achieving great cut through in their CX have integrated omnichannel support at their core. It is important to understand that omnichannel is different to multi-channel. Omnichannel enables a seamless flow of support interactions for both the customer and the agent, so that the customer never needs to repeat unnecessary information and the agent can provide a more personalised response. Data from theZendesk Benchmarkfound that ‘High Performers’ of CX push data into and out of their support software using apps, integrations, and APIs, so agents don’t have to switch contexts repeatedly.
Every business should ensure its support function is fully integrated, with a single record of the customer and a platform that enables you to collect and analyse evolving data, map out how the channels work together, and simplify processes with rules and routing. Work toward providing an agile and more personalised experience no matter where the customer is or which device they are using.
5. Don’t forget the employee experience
A recent whitepaper on theEmpathy Economytouched on how customer service is emerging as the true heart and soul of a company. A company’s culture must resonate with customers on a deep level, and employee experience is central to how a culture is perceived.
Customers can hear an unhappy agent, be it over the phone or via chat. An unhappy employee sounds unsympathetic and gives poor service, versus someone who truly enjoys their job and is driven by helping them feel like they have successfully helped their customer. Employees and customers are intrinsically linked, and something that all businesses excelling at CX are aware of.
Businesses should take a close look at their employee experience and satisfaction levels. Melissa Dorey, Technology and Innovation, Human Resources at Telstra is a huge advocate for this. The advice she shared during a panel discussion at The Future of CX when it comes to choosing the right technology and processes for your employees was that, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” The technology you use should work for your employees first; it shouldsupport human interaction, be unobtrusive to their workflow, and empower your agents. The easier and more empowering their job, the better the service.
Investing in progressive workplace policies is also vital, as is reviewing job tasks, KPIs, development pathways and rewards for teams. If customer support teams feel valued and see the results of what they are doing, their energy will transfer to the customer.
In conclusion, less can often be more when it comes to CX. Focus on meaningful and impactful engagement that gives your customer a unique and memorable experience.
Zendesk director of sales AUNZ Rod Moynihan