Technology empowering agents to enable the delivery of Great Customer Experience is a recurrent, but still an amazing topic for discussion.
Normally I would highlight in this article the Top 10 Key Takeaways, however this Webinar with Gabe Larsen was so good, that I came up with 20 Top Takeaways. I will not hide any of those takeaways from you just to make my article fit a certain format.
1) I will start by the analogy that Gabe made between the modern Customer Service and the Movie Ironman. When we think about the Ironman suit, it is a perfect representation of the theme of this Webinar, because Tony Stark himself in fact doesn’t have any super-powers (Intelligence maybe), but the use of technology turns him into a super-hero. The summary of the entire discussion is exactly what happens with Tony Stark. He could be replaced by a robot, with the same powers, but instead, he was empowered by the technology to allow him, as a human, to be and do more. That’s how technology must be used. To enable humans and not replace them.
2) To allow us to have some perspective of the evolution of technology in perspective, Gabe reminded us of when the market differentiator was the Product itself, then the differentiator became the Service and now the differentiator is the Experience provided by the product or service we acquire. Gabe introduced to us the concept of Meconomy, which is the new environment of work and life, where we become more independent and center our actions in ourselves. To make it possible, we need the technology to allow us to manage the huge array of variables we have to deal with every day, which makes convenience, speed and simplicity fundamental aspects of our lives.
3) 5 Pillars of Meconomy.
a) Self-Service – 70% of the Customers want to have the option of self-service
b) Speed – 77% of the Customers believe speed is fundamental
c) Personalization – 41% of Customers change brands due to lack of personalization.
d) Channel of Choice – 88% of Customers get frustrated for not being able to talk to providers via their preferred channel.
e) Low Effort – 98% of Customers would leave you because they cannot have a low effort solution from you.
4) Customers want Continuity and Choice.
5) Evolution of Technology for CX.
a) Early 90’s – First Call Center solutions as we know them. Phone based operations, with no connectivity with other parts of the business.
b) Early 2000’s – First CRM systems
c) Late 2000’s – Ticket System, with multi-channel, but not connected to other parts of the business.
d) Today – Explosion of channels created the omnichannel integrated and connected solutions.
6) Instead of having Technology Stacks, due to the speed of introduction of new technologies and the lack of a review of the overall tech stack, the solutions implemented (the flavor of the week) do not talk to each other and the use of technology is not optimized. This is what is called the Frankenstack. Different pieces of technology, from different sources, not connected and offering non-optimized solutions, which frequently creates more problems than they solve. This lack of integration makes it impossible to meet the ever- changing expectations of the modern consumers.
7) Technology can bring solutions to a number of old problems, but it creates a bunch of others, such as:
a) Channel Switching: If a Customer does not like or feels he/she is not being treated well in one channel, they switch channels and the company suddenly has 2 complaints or tickets instead of 1.
b) Hunting and Packing: Agents pick and choose which tickets they want to address or prioritize from a shared inbox.
c) Agent Collision: when 2 different agents deliver 2 different answers to the Customer related to the same problem.
d) Generic Customer Service: when an agent, not knowing the Customer cannot be specific on what he/she delivers and can only deliver the basic speech.
e) Swivel Chair Interfaces: when an agent needs to switch from tab to tab, or from system to system to enter of find information.
8) We don’t need another patch to solve those problems and address the inefficiencies on our Tech Stack. It takes a completely new way of seeing things. A more holistic view of the processes and of the Customers’ expectations, from their perspective. This to allow the creation of a Customer Centric System where the Customer is guided on a low effort Journey, where each and every Experience is optimized to meet their expectations.
9) The modern Tech Stack needs to have fundamentally 4 key components embedded:
a) True CRM System: all your data in one single place.
b) True Omnichannel: multi-channels interconnected.
c) Self-Service & Automation for speed, low effort and convenience.
d) Artificial Intelligence (AI): to allow the Customer to do more with less.
10) To enable this new way of thinking the KPIs have to be reviewed as well. Stop using old fashioned KPIs which focus is internal, on your process, such as Handle Time and migrate to Customer Centric KPIs, such as the Customer Effort.
11) AI can and will revolutionize the Call Center function.
12) AI has to be developed to enable and not to eliminate human Agents. AI shall answer most of the operational questions, so the Agent can focus on more important stuff.
13) AI could have helped a lot during the pandemic to avoid to overwhelm the Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). This period burned out the people trying to support Customers in panic. CSRs are the frontline of Customer Experience. They represent your brand, your name, so they should be better supported with Tech.
14) Theory of Constraints: If you look for the solution of a problem looking to the problem alone, without context and the surrounding limitations, all you will do is to highlight the next bottleneck. Frequently when you advertise you are solving a problem, it creates a huge expectation, but if the solution only addresses part of the problem, the frustration grows bigger than it was before the original problem was solved.
15) If you have a bad process and you add Technology to it, all you are doing is to make it worse. If you have an inefficient process and you put new technology on top of it, you will become more efficient in being inefficient, or being inefficient faster.
16) The current demand for Customization is so big and the Customers are so different, that there is no way you can mass customize solutions without the support of technology.
17) Three examples of great use of AI are:
a) AI based personalization: based on the Customer preferences learned from multiple sources of info (phone calls, browsing, etc).
b) AI enabled prioritization and routing: to allow Customer low effort.
c) AI supported self-service: more than simple decision trees, but true machine learning.
18) Around 1/3 of Amazon’s revenue comes from AI enabled personalized recommendations.
19) The future of business is neither B2C (Business to Consumer) nor B2B (Business to Business), but H2H (Human to Human).
20) “Every Company today is a Technology Company” (Stephenie Stone – W+M Group CIO) – No matter what you do, you depend on technology one way or another. You cannot run from it, so Embrace Technology. You can choose to be a victim of change and technology, or be an Agent of change and technology. The choice is yours. In any case, buckle up and enjoy the ride.