Digital Transformation is Changing the Customer Experience Faster Than you Think

digital transformation customer experience

Digital transformation isn’t just happening to the bleeding-edge technologists of the world. Every company is either getting on board or getting left drastically behind. At this point, only 23 percent of companies would consider themselves “non-digital,” and 80 percent of business leaders say they fully expect their industry to be disrupted by digital.

As a result, digital transformation is fundamentally changing the customer experience in many ways. Customers have more options and certainly much higher expectations for their interactions with the brands they buy from. Customer experience is the number one priority of leaders across industries — even more important than things like pressures to “enhance operations” or “transform existing products” with digital transformation.

“The highest digital priority, by far, is creating an exceptional, highly relevant customer experience. This is good news for consumers and business customers alike, as it foreshadows an era of customer-centered business.” — HBR, “Competing in 2020: Winners and Losers in the Digital Economy

Digital transformation is good for business because it’s good for customers — full stop. The more proactive you are about transforming your customer experience by taking advantage of digital tools, the more you can ensure your staying power.

Here are some of the ways that digital transformation is changing the customer experience, and how you can adapt your own customer-support operation to take advantage of the expectations and possibilities. 

Customers can self-serve more than ever before

Customers can now get answers to their own questions, look up their order history, and track a package without having to talk to a human. This new paradigm gives customers a much higher level of convenience and autonomy and practically vanquishes the old inconvenience of waiting on hold to ask a simple question.

When customers can self-serve, it leads to less interaction with human agents and fewer support tickets —  a time-and-money saver for companies. By giving customers self-service options in the form of online FAQs, customer account dashboards and answer bots that direct them to knowledge-base articles, companies empower customers and save money.

Customers expect to get products and services much quicker

Services like Amazon Prime have spoiled everyone when it comes to consumer patience. We now question why we have to wait weeks for any order to arrive. Customers expect speedy delivery and instant access with any purchase.

Of course, the Amazon Prime 2-day-delivery model is not realistic for every company, and backorders and delays are an inevitable part of retail logistics. But a responsive and proactive customer service organization goes a long way in satiating consumers’ need for instant gratification. Automated updates, timely alerts, and a totally transparent shipping process all serve to reassure customers that their order is on its way.

They also expect their experience to be highly personalized

Personalized experiences have become another expectation for customers. This is particularly true in the retail sector, where the bar is high for recommendations to be accurate and timely. Digital advertising, too, has become personalized, with the sophistication of targeted ads increasing every day.

Customer service is no exception. Customers want their support experiences to be specifically about them — 53 percent of customers expect responses to be tailored to their explicit needs and issues. The agent or bot they speak with should have an almost prescient knowledge of their user information and history, along with options to solve their particular problem quickly.

Customer experience automation is a partial answer to this conundrum because it equips human agents with rich customer history and context so they approach every conversation in a personalized, informed way.

They expect to be able to reach a company wherever they are

One of the biggest effects of digital transformation on customer experience is that customers today expect to be able to reach companies on whatever channel is most convenient at the moment. If the phone is handy, great, but they’re more likely to shoot off an email while at work, pop into a chat session while online or seek customer support while actively using an app.

It’s not enough for customer service organizations to offer all of these options. They must also connect them — so that a customer can seamlessly transition from a live chat moment to a phone call, or carry on an in-app conversation in an asynchronous way over time. 

They also expect to reach a company instantly

The days of waiting for a customer service department to open at 9am are over. Today’s customers expect to be able to reach out at any time of day or night, no matter what time zone they’re in, even if it’s a weekend. More than half of all consumers now expect a customer service response within one hour, regardless of the day or time they are online.

In the past, businesses struggled with this expectation if they didn’t have deep enough pockets to keep 24/7 phone lines open. Even with an around-the-clock human call center, it’s simply not efficient for companies to keep human agents on hand to answer every customer question instantly. 

Automation is critical to this effort because it allows customer service organizations to enable an instant first response, leveraging bots to engage with the customer right away. There are plenty of ways for businesses of all types to take advantage of automation within customer service technology. With the use of automated routing, classifying tickets can be handled by pre-built workflows. With artificial intelligence (AI) added to the mix, that classification becomes smarter and more accurate over time. 

And fortunately, today’s consumers aren’t just okay with automation. In some cases, they actually prefer it to talking to a human. One Accenture report found that 84 percent of people love automation because it’s “available anytime,” and a majority also find it to be “less biased,” “faster to engage,” and “faster to provide service,” than human customer service counterparts. 

And they expect high-quality answers without hassle

Customers don’t just want to reach a company quickly. They want to get their issue resolved in a pleasant way. Having to endure transfers and callbacks and re-explain their problem or enter their account number numerous times are successive dings on your customer satisfaction scale. Accenture found that 89 percent of customers become frustrated when they must repeat their issue with customer service representatives. 

Support technology has to keep up with digital transformation in customer experience. An integrated customer service platform that connects every single customer conversation seamlessly is critical to this effort. When your customer service channels and agents are connected and supported through a unified dashboard, the customer experience is more harmonious. 

Be committed to digital transformation in customer experience

Of course, digital transformation is an ongoing process. You don’t have to be there tomorrow. But if you want to stay relevant and competitive in the digital age, you do have to pay attention to what consumers want and expect — and start researching the tools that will help you fulfill those needs.

Published September 23, 2019
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