TABLE's Cristian Petschen, "Good customer service is on-demand and context specific."

Cristian Petschen believes in the power of the digital space for providing great customer service. “There is an incredible opportunity to create a unified brand narrative as the customer goes about their life, and this can only be achieved through the digital channel.”

As founder and CEO of TABLE, Petschen brings a strong background in design and technology to bear in his role leading strategy, creative and product. TABLE provides turnkey solutions for businesses seeking to join the digital market.

For companies who are only now beginning to move to the digital space, Petschen offers encouragement and advice on making the transformation. He also notes there has never been a better time to make this change, due to the pandemic-induced adoption of digital alternatives. “Coronavirus has been a break-through in the digital market. Anyone looking to do things in an innovative way will tell you the hardest thing is getting people to adopt it.”

One of the greatest benefits of the digital economy is that customers can interact with the brand anywhere, but this also requires strategic attention to every aspect of the user experience. The company culture must shine through at every touchpoint and customer service must be on-demand and context-specific. “As a brand, you need to always be able to take care of your clients the right way, even if you do not control the physical or virtual space they are in.”

TABLE is a sponsor of CMSWire's DX Summit, held online on Feb. 25. Petschen will present a session with TABLE's director of marketing, Matt Crocker, titled: "Taming the New Digital Frontier: 3 Ways To Supercharge Your CX." We spoke with Petschen about digital transformation laggards, what customer service means to him, and transforming brick and mortar stores for a digital now. 

Customers Can Interact With You Anywhere

CMSWire: What does customer service mean to you?

Cristian Petschen: To me, customer service is how you take care of your customers along the entire customer journey. Whether they need a product or support, good customer service takes care of them where and when they need it, in the best possible way. In other words, good customer service is on-demand and context-specific.

For example, say I’m interested in improving my at home audio-visual experience. How customer service is deployed would depend on where I am and what I need; the way the experience is deployed would be very different online versus in the store. I could just be browsing smart products on an ecommerce site and need to know if a product is compatible with my existing home entertainment system; or maybe I'm at a store and want to try the thing out to see how sleek the experience is; or I've already purchased the product and I can't get it set up. These three cases require on-demand engagement and different experiences.

CMSWire: When did you realize that the future of customer service was digital?

Petschen: The realization came when it became clear that customers can interact with the brand anywhere. It has to do with the complexity and scale of providing customer service. It's a chicken and egg situation. On the one hand, customers go about their business always armed with mobile phones and other devices; and, on the other hand, products and services can be promoted or sold on multiple platforms, apps, marketplaces, partners and retailers. As a brand, you need to always be able to take care of your clients the right way, even if you do not control the physical or virtual space.

For example, when a customer is browsing online, they can click on the product and have a bot answer any questions they have, show them videos, and even connect them with the right salesperson without leaving the board. They can then go to a store and scan a QR code at the entrance and trigger an experience that lets them know that the voice assistants are on aisle three and that someone can meet them there if they want. It can also automatically let the agent know who the customer is, what they’re looking for, and to meet them on aisle three. The agent can also let the customer know that they can scan the QR code on the product when they get home and someone can instantly show them how to set it up with their system via video-conference.

In this example, the digital channel unified three diverse experiences — and it did it on-demand and context-specific. There is an incredible opportunity to create a unified brand narrative as the customer goes about their life, and this can only be achieved through the digital channel.

CMSWire: What are the pros and cons of a digital business?

Petschen: The biggest pro is the fact that businesses can engage customers at scale without being limited by location. They can keep costs low while providing great service.

I’d like to stress the words 'great service' because the whole thing falls apart without it. Also, I believe automation needs to be hybrid: we can use bots but we must retain the human aspect in the digital channel.

A digital-only business falls short when the product or service can benefit from a real-life experience. The physical experience can be mimicked online with screen sharing, browsing, and video conferencing, and there are initial efforts for augmented reality to enhance the digital experience. But we’re physical beings and there are some circumstances where the physical experience has a clear value-add.

'The Digital-First Experience Is Still in Its Infancy'

CMSWire: For companies that have yet to make the digital transformation, is there still room in the market for them to shift? Is it too late?

Petschen: It’s absolutely not too late; the numbers prove it. Only about 70% of companies have even begun to roll out transformation, and 80% will have begun by 2023. So the digital-first experience is still in its infancy.

There are a lot of great digital-first companies that have deployed great services and deliver a great experience. Companies looking to make the transformation can look to these examples, and to their own personal experiences as customers.

CMSWire: Is there still a need for some businesses to remain strictly brick and mortar?

Petschen: As time passes all businesses will implement some kind of digital experience, even ones that are obvious physical-first experiences. But it’s an interesting question that we ask ourselves a lot. We’re physical beings and there are things that are obviously physical.

Coronavirus has been a breakthrough in the digital market. Anyone looking to do things in an innovative way will tell you the hardest thing is getting people to adopt it. Coronavirus has given impetus to this transformation; it’s happening faster because people have been forced to adopt the change, and these things will remain with us.

CMSWire: In the digital space, how can businesses create a culture of meaningful customer service?

Petschen: The company culture has to shine through at every touchpoint, and it needs to come from the top down with buy-in across departments. There is a persona to every brand, and it should be reflected in the personality of the branding, campaigns, bots, agents and the UI. Even your bot can make a joke and speak to you in a light and funny way if that’s what your brand is. Every employee needs to understand how they contribute to that customer experience and their incentives need to be aligned with good outcomes. It's not so different than traditional businesses in that sense.

An advantage in digital is that everything is easy to identify and measure. You can see the outcomes in real data. You can see whether the user interface is difficult to use, whether the UI person has succeeded or failed. You can have sentiment analysis, and if you identify that sentiment is better or worse toward one particular agent, you can respond to that.

Everybody likes to talk about customer service but the reality is we’re still having bad experiences. Successful companies realize the importance of company culture in everything they do, and they align it all across the business in meaningful, measurable ways.

Register today for the free, virtual event: 2021 Digital Experience Conference Series.