Keeping customers happy

Digital technology is incredibly flexible, but sometimes that very flexibility can be its downfall as firms struggle to create seamless customer experiences 

The very best digital strategies are stripping away complexity and promoting efficiency in order to make everything digital user-centric. Where this manifests itself most noticeably is the contact centre.

Making an insurance claim has historically been both time consuming and complicated, with many parties involved and multiple steps to follow. By contrast, today’s seamless digital customer experiences combine the unique advantages each digital channel provides.

Combining smartphone, voice and video digital channels enables customers to submit pictures during their insurance claim call. For some home insurance claims this has meant a reduction in the claim cycle from weeks to hours, with an associated boost in customer satisfaction. For the insurance firms this means lower costs as assessors are able to review many more cases, while reducing fraud, by using the customer’s smartphone to tag where pictures were taken.

According to recent research by Avaya and BT, 73 per cent of UK consumers say they are more likely to buy more from companies who make it easier to do business with them. This is a 30 per cent increase in UK consumers saying convenience is more important than price, compared with two years ago.

This level of customer service isn’t unique to insurance. Imagine if your broadband provider called to arrange installation of a new set-top box even before you knew your old one was faulty or calling your bank when you experience a problem online and, rather than being directed to the next available agent, you actually get routed to your local branch.

As consumers, we really do want it all… Our job is to help businesses develop digital strategies to deliver customer service at consumer speed

For anybody who’s ever been on hold for hours, this type of concierge-level customer service must seem like fantasy. In fact, both are real-life customer service scenarios. One is an European broadband provider, the other a progressive UK bank, both clients of Avaya, the only vendor to be consistently positioned as a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure for 15 years.

However, keeping customers happy is a whole lot trickier than it was 15 years ago. The Avaya-BT research found that 71 per cent of us demand being able to communicate with customer support while online, while 63 per cent want to switch from social media or web-chat to the telephone when we need a hand. As consumers we want convenience and speed, but we’re also demanding the personal touch.

Martin Snellgrove, Avaya’s consulting director, says: “As consumers, we really do want it all. Think of your own customer experience. It probably starts online, continuing days or even weeks later with a call, possibly finishing in a local high street shop.

“The difficulty of tracking and predicting a customer’s moves, capturing the information and delivering back to them the level of service they require over the correct medium is increasingly difficult when you consider that their touchpoints with a brand might be mobile, face to face and phone.

“Our job is to help businesses develop digital strategies to ensure a seamless experience throughout the customer journey. We believe in delivering customer service at consumer speed.”

But it doesn’t stop at mapping the customer journey. Mark Cunnell, Avaya’s digital enterprise director, argues that if customer touchpoints are the eyes and ears of a digital business then analytics is the brain making sense of the diverse real-time interaction information. He cites real-time analytics as one of the most overlooked tools in any digital customer engagement strategy.

“In the era of social media, the ability to assess levels of customer satisfaction in real time, without waiting for questionnaires or feedback surveys, and adapt their experience accordingly is an incredibly persuasive approach,” he says.

“This level of immediate and actionable insights enables our clients to demonstrate they know each customer personally. This brings incremental advantage over their competitors. They are able to adapt their approach immediately in response to an individual customer’s experience, curbing discontent and churn before it impacts the business.”

After all, it was Steve Jobs, a man who certainly knew a thing or two about delighting customers, who said: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology.”