woman holding a number of colorful balloons
PHOTO: Buco Balkanessi

According to the PwC report, "Experience is Everything: Here’s How to Get It Right," companies may tout the new technology they're using to improve CX, but they haven’t focused on — or invested in — the aspects of customer experience that mean the most to customers: speed, convenience, friendliness and knowledge.

The challenge, according to PwC: Use new technology with purpose to make the experience feel more human — without creating frustrations for customers and while making it easier for employees to support customers. How can companies best accomplish that?

Put Customer Convenience First

“At YourParkingSpace, we have put convenience at the forefront of our strategy, complementing our human-centric approach, with the aim of providing the best customer experience within the parking industry,” said Tiffany Chesson, the company’s people and process manager. “We’ve transformed our CX by replacing the tried and tested method of phone lines with a live chat service.”

Chat is more convenient – it’s less intrusive on a customer’s day, and the chat can follow the customer across any channel, enabling the customer to pick up when ready, Chesson said. Since installing chat, response time has improved.

Also providing added convenience, while keeping the human touch, is using bots to gather information for agents so they can provide speedy solutions if customers can’t self-serve, said Chesson. 

“Since implementation we’ve seen 26% of our customers self-serve,” Chesson said. “That’s the equivalent of one agent’s daily workload, meaning with the same human resource our agents now have more time to invest in providing above-and-beyond service to our more complex requests.”

Related Article: Reinventing CX Through Self-Service and Intelligent Automation

Keep it Simple

“The technology we have at our disposal when it comes to building sophisticated websites and web apps is greater than it ever has been before. It can be tempting to try to use it all. We need to remember, though, that when customers see our site for the first time, they don't understand all the different iterations it's been through and they don't have our contextual knowledge,” said Shayne Sherman, CEO of TechLoris.

So don’t overly complicate the website with too many bells and whistles. Provide what the customer wants in as few clicks as possible, Sherman added. This includes using lazy loading — developing apps in such a way that the customer doesn't have to download all of the application code before they can interact with your site.  Instead, they download the code piecemeal as it's needed. This means they can get to your products or services much faster.

Similarly, don’t complicate your phone system, Sherman advised. “Automated phone systems are great and all, but make sure they're easy to navigate. There can be nothing more frustrating than being caught in a loop because a customer's issue doesn't fit any of the predetermined options. Program in a simple way to contact a person.”

Related Article: Simplicity Is the Future of Customer Engagement

Improve Speed of Checkout, Inventory Movement

For better speed, John Talbott, director of the Center for Education and Research in Retail at the Kelley School of Business recommended concentrating on technologies that speed inventory and transaction processing. 

IHL Group in a webinar revealed that the brands leading their segments are investing in technology at a rate 70% higher than their competitors, said Talbott. The application of technology in retail has focused on a number of different areas, but much of the focus has been on:

  • Moving inventory to the right place more rapidly and more accurately to meet consumer demand. 
  • Getting rid of friction in the value acquisition process. Does anybody want to stand in a checkout line? More than 70% of all Starbuck transactions take place in the background. Expect other retailers to move to the same checkout-free world ASAP. This will be table stakes in five years.  

Related Article: Delivering Customer Experience in the Supply Chain

Invest in Relevant Channels

According to a Pegasystems survey, 68% of companies say their channel focus is determined by the needs of their customers, but their actions say otherwise. Respondents named email (43%) and digital ads (42%) as their top two channel investments for 2020 — both of which are considered to be channels with increasingly lower customer response rates. By contrast, only 28% said they were planning to invest in chatbots, and 26% planned to invest in inbound contact centers, suggesting a focus on prioritizing short-term outbound gains instead of focusing on the inbound channels customers most typically want to use to communicate.

“While many organizations see the value of improving customer engagement, many still need to understand they can't just implement a new technology and expect it to be a panacea for all their problems," said Tom Libretto, Pegasystems chief marketing officer. "Instead, a more holistic, strategic approach is required. Organizations need to look at their customers in a completely new way — as individuals that have unique needs and preferences within a very complex, real-time relationship with every brand they interact with.”

Along with investing in the wrong channels, companies are relying on outdated analytics, according to the study. More than one quarter (27%) of firms still rely on customer journey mapping, while nearly one in five (19%) still perform A/B testing.