In the Top 5 Customer Experience Trends for 2020 Ecosystm Principal Advisors, Tim Sheedy and Audrey William say that emerging Asia will catch up with the mature economies of the world in their customer obsession. Have emerging economies really embraced Customer Experience (CX) fully or are they just responding to the hype? Do consumers really care about how they connect with brands or do organisations think product offerings is the main differentiator? The business priorities of global organisations reveal that there is a universal focus on improving CX (Figure 1). It is the top business priority across emerging and mature economies, though mature economies are still ahead in their customer focus. Organisations in emerging economies prioritise revenue growth and improving Employee Experience (EX) more than those in mature economies.
Delivering Better CX – The Challenges
Whether these organisations can actually fulfill their CX goals, depends on what their key challenges are. In the end, what consumers want is a consistent CX – across multiple channels and touchpoints. Organisations in emerging economies seem to find it more challenging to drive a more consistent CX (Figure 2). Information siloes are a challenge across all organisations. But organisations in mature economies cite training of their agents as their biggest challenge.
A desire to improve CX must be backed with both vision and budget. The vision should be for the entire organisation to have a single source of truth – not just for the employees – but also a common source of truth that is accessible easily and consistently by customers, across multiple channels. Without this, customer self-service measures will be inadequate. Increasingly customers will want to engage with brands when they want to (very often beyond working hours), how they want to (avoid lengthy voice calls) and where they want to (web and mobile apps). Interoperability of enterprise systems and a robust knowledge base are important factors.
How do Organisations Improve Service Delivery?
If we compare the top CX measures by organisations in mature and emerging economies, we notice a clear difference in priority. In mature economies, organisations appear to have a clear roadmap. They focus on the customers first; followed by empowering the staff to perform their jobs better; invest in technology that will enable both; work on process optimisation; and finally set KPIs and metrics to evaluate the efficacy of the CX measures in place. Also, what they are increasingly doing is setting CX KPIs across the entire organisation – involving all stakeholders. A customer-focused business is one where everything is second to the customers and that should be built firmly into the organisational culture.
In emerging economies, organisations do not appear to follow a clear roadmap in their CX measures. While self-service is an important aspect of their CX programs, they are more tied down by improving their customer service staff capabilities. They are more challenged by high staff turnover (Figure 2) and appear to be focused on their employees in multiple ways – hiring experts, improving EX and investing in staff training. What they do far less than their counterparts from mature economies is setting organisation-wide CX KPIs.
Web apps are still the most important self-service CX touchpoint, followed by mobile apps. However, emerging economies are ahead when it comes to the importance they place on mobile apps for CX. This is reflective of the high mobile penetration in emerging economies, and the propensity to use mobile devices for all transactions – social and business.
We have seen that organisations in mature economies set CX KPIs more consistently. What are the top CX metrics and are there any differences based on the maturity of the economy (Figure 4)?
Organisations in emerging economies, continue to be more concerned about attracting and retaining employees. In fact, when asked about their security concerns, these organisations cite agents leaving with data as the key challenge. In mature economies, the key security challenge is improper use of confidential customer data, which can be handled best by continued staff training. In emerging economies, while organisations measure individual areas such as average call duration and first contact resolution, they do not measure customer satisfaction, in its entirety, using CSat scores, for instance. Organisations in mature economies are better at setting KPIs for their CX initiatives and tying them down to outcomes beyond the customer service teams – such as sales and adherence to compliance requirements.
Organisations in mature economies are focused on CX, but to become truly customer-obsessed they need to:
Evaluate what will enable them to deliver better customer self-service – it is not only about apps, but also about the knowledge base
Create a clear CX roadmap, focused on the multiple stakeholders and the technology – the steps have to be focused and not ad-hoc
Inculcate customer obsession across the entire organisation – not just the customer-facing teams
Asia will Catch up with North America and ANZ in Customer Obsession
Many Asian economies – particularly those in Southeast Asia – have not needed to focus too much on CX. The proportion of businesses starting to map customer journeys is accelerating, and there is a growing focus on making those journeys easier, more effective and more enjoyable. We are seeing this play out in the levels of interest in – and deployment of – cloud contact centres. Australia and New Zealand have been leading the deployments in the last two years. Deploying cloud and using machine learning and AI at the core to understand how to deliver personalised CX is part of a wider CX strategy for several organisations.
In 2020 we expect large organisations in Southeast Asia and North Asia to transform their CX and contact centre capabilities and make the move to cloud-based contact centre environments.
CX Initiatives will Dovetail with Broader Digital Ones
Many businesses have taken a bimodal IT approach to their technology platforms – driving customer-centric changes at pace while keeping their back-end systems slow. In the drive to make the entire business fast and innovative, these back-end systems are being modernised. But over 90% of businesses have not yet seen a customer or business benefit from this digital agenda.
This will change in 2020 as more businesses get some competitive advantage from the digital initiatives they are driving inside of their business. This will be driven by the linking of the customer-centric technology initiatives with the back-end ones. This means that customer applications will be infused with data and analytics from other systems, making them smarter and increasing the potential for automation and AI to drive down costs and increase personalisation and customisation.
Hyper-personalisation will Move from Concept to Reality – Powered by Customer Journey Analytics
The idea of creating unique experiences for each customer has been discussed for years – but few businesses are really doing it today. 2020 will see businesses outside of the top 5% experiment and deploy hyper-personalised CX. It will move from the top web brands to mass market as more companies invest in automation, predictive analytics and AI.
But hyper-personalisation is not possible without Customer Journey Analytics. Businesses need to understand the end-to-end journey of each customer to understand how to personalise it. Therefore, Customer Journey Analytics will take centre-stage in 2020. The challenge for years has been that customer teams have focused on the traditional inbound and outbound interaction with the customer. Brands now need to understand and personalise the experience before the customer interacts with the brand and after they are done interacting with the brand. The ability to apply machine learning and AI to offer insights to predict the movement and journey of the customer will be a significant focus – and challenge – for customer teams. Customer Journey Analytics will allow brands to deliver that “frictionless” service.
There will be a Renewed Focus on Compliance and Security in CX
With the recent banking royal commission hearings in Australia to GDPR and other global regulations around privacy and customer data handling, customer teams will now have to make sure that all forms of voice and non-voice interactions are monitored close to 100% of the time. Very few customer teams do that today and are at risk of non-compliance. As monitoring can be labour intensive, there will be a need for organisations to invest in analytics and AI applications around compliance and monitoring.
The recording of customer calls means that highly sensitive information could be stored for years and the risk of the contact centre breaching regulatory compliance requirements enhances. Solutions today have various ways to block the recording of key phrases or sections and some solutions apply APIs to the flow of the recording. As soon as the agent enters sensitive information such as credit card details, the recording stops to resume after the sensitive data is blocked or deleted. That way the sensitive conversation is not recorded or heard by anyone monitoring the call. Contact centres must adhere to this strictly, but few do. Businesses also need to know real time if an agent is misinforming the customer. Contact Centre Outsourcers will also have to re-look at how compliant they are and how much they have invested in securing customer data. There will be greater pressure on them to take on greater risks and share the risk burden with their clients.
Businesses will Use AI and Analytics to Measure CX
The drive to improve CX has every business and government department measuring the experience at every opportunity. A one-minute transaction in a store can prompt a five-minute survey asking for feedback. As a consequence, customers are experiencing survey fatigue. Surveys are also not the best way to measure how customers feel after they have interacted with a brand. Already, many will not participate unless there is a discount or incentive, which eats into future margins. Smart businesses will begin to use AI to detect emotions and mood, and analytics to measure experiences.
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AI-enabled IoT devices are helping to enhance Customer Experience. The sensors in IoT devices such as wearables or personal assistants produce data which can be processed to derive useful insights, activity patterns and develop personalised communication. AI is improving the ability to take IoT generated data to personalise and customise actions and communication. For example, customers in gyms and fitness clubs can share their wearables data with their fitness trainers to customise their exercise routine and provide dietary recommendations.
Similarly, cars can be embedded with sensors which assess the users’ driving habits. This can then be used to suggest improvements to driving style or adjust insurance premiums based on how they drive.
Progressive Insurance, for instance, offers its customers discounts based on their driving through its “Snapshot” program. Progressive is using its usage-based-insurance (UBI) telematics programme to monitor how its car insurance customers drive. Using an ODB telematics dongle and machine learning, the insurer is able to judge how a driver is performing on each journey.
With location-based tracking technology and GPS systems on smartphones and devices, more businesses are working to enable and provide geo-location services to customers. This presents opportunities to offer personalised shopping experiences and customised promotions and offers to the customers. Businesses are already using geo-location services to extend offers to customers – such as cinemas and theatres pushing notifications on movie timings and available discounts when customers are in the vicinity.
Location-based services also help to enhance the actual shopping experience. Lowe’s has an app which allows their customers to navigate the large warehouse-like stores, helping them find products faster and easier. The app called The Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation app works using a combination of VR and location-based services.
Customer-Centric AR and VR
AR and VR technologies are enhancing the way customers engage with businesses. Companies adopting AR/VR can distinguish themselves from the competition by introducing higher touchpoints and deeply personalised experiences designed specifically for their customer journey. The retail industry has been at the forefront when it comes to experimenting with AR and VR technologies, in the customer space. Retailers have rolled out applications and services that lets consumers virtually try makeup, clothing, accessories and seek out the best look for them.
Financial institutions are also leveraging AR and VR to build customer-centric solutions for self-service and user training. Citibank worked with a mixed reality technology company to develop a trading platform combining 2D and 3D working environment to extrapolate insights from data. Traders work with hundreds of financial instruments, and with the mixed reality workstation, they can quickly identify market hotspots that they should be focusing on. The consequences – better trades!
The hospitality industry is also leveraging AR to improve CX, AR-based menus is a good example. Various fine dining restaurants have started offering AR based food menus which can display virtual food items and live 3D models of food to accurately represent both the appearance and the serving portion.
Obviously, the entertainment industry will leverage mixed reality to the fullest. For instance, The New York Times leverages VR for storytelling where readers can visualise the events described in some editions of the newspaper. The technology thus allows the description of the setup of a story making the viewers witness an emotional connect with the characters.
Voice capabilities for a seamless experience
With the advent of digital voice assistants and voice recognition AI, voice recognition has opened up avenues and opportunities for businesses to enhance the way customers interact with them whether through mobile apps or their call centres.
Nowadays, voice-capable apps enable customers to interact with services very easily. A good example is Starbuck’s My Barista app, which allows customers to order via voice command or messaging. The coffee chain expanded its application by incorporating voice features to boost speed and convenience for placing and processing orders.
In conclusion, implementing technologies in a business could help businesses change the way the customers see and respond to a business. In addition to this, Improving customer service and using technologies can significantly reduce human inaccuracy, improve employee confidence and rapidly improve the character of a brand. By bridging the gap between a company and its client’s, businesses are becoming CX oriented and are dedicating themselves to enhance CX.
Besides the above, which technologies do you think are beneficial in enhancing your CX?
The right IoT sensor and actuator can boost customer satisfaction. For instance, by installing intelligent IoT sensors in the physical store environment, retailers can collect contextual data such as sound, temperature, or traffic patterns and will uncover how physical elements of a location correlate to customer satisfaction.
IoT devices like wearables or smart home devices with good features improve the quality of life and have revolutionised CX.
Effective IoT connectivity management is key to a successful IoT deployment. IoT connectivity enriches communication with customers too. The sensors and IoT devices that are inbuilt into products can feed data back regarding usage patterns and even detect problems. This data can be used to the manufacturer’s advantage allowing them to send across personalised communication to customers.
IoT platforms with Artificial Intelligence (AI) components facilitate analysis of the ways customers are interacting with their devices over time, and helps identify frequently and rarely used features, allowing the building of better devices and applications fitted better to customer needs.
IoT applications like condition-based monitoring allows the prevention of failures before they occur rather than waiting for problems to arise first. Connected devices can schedule predictive maintenance, detect issues before they debilitate functionality and diagnose problems accurately. When connected to a powerful AI-based workforce-management solution, companies can optimally schedule a technician by balancing skills, asset location, parts, technicians’ locations and traffic.
IoT aids CX through faster Customer Service/Customer Support. Intelligent IoT devices itself could communicate an issue to a support team, even if the customer is unaware of one. Based on this information, a support team could then take several pre-emptive actions, which could include either notifying the customer or even rectifying the issue before the customer is affected. IoT sensors may be able to predict problems before they surface. Perhaps a piece of equipment exhibits certain symptoms before it breaks down. If the IoT device could send an alert to an engineer warning them about the potential problem, the equipment could be fixed before the problem leads to any downtime.
Designing an IoT Product Strategy centred around CX
Here are some points points to keep in mind when designing IoT products with a better user experience.
The data that you havee gathered from the usage of your products can be used to develop new products. You can figure out what part of your products can be improved upon and then pass on this information to your product development team.
Never introduce a User Experience (UX) based functionality that does not comply with the core values that the IoT product aims to provide.
Since IoT-enabled devices come equipped with several sensors, they can easily capture loads of data regarding product motion, biometrics, air moisture, temperature, weather, etc. The product should be designed in such a way that the device makes optimum use of this data to learn deeply about the user and start taking smart and automated decisions on its own.
Focus on making it easy for the customer to personalise the interface of smart products.
Think beyond the usual interfaces that are based around screens. Combine with other technologies like AR, Voice Recognition, etc to obtain the desired output functions.
Your IoT device design should make things simpler and not introduce more complexity into the equation. They should be designed in a way that it involves a minimal amount of training.
Design with the intent of keeping machine-to-machine interaction at the maximum and autonomous behaviour at the minimum.
Place the centre of control in the hands of the users. The interface design should make them feel like they run the show. One of the best ways to do this is by enabling remote user interfaces.
Get information about the time gap between procuring a product and using it, and the date when the product is up for replacement.
Combine IoT and AI for a better CX.
IoT is no longer in its infancy. The technology is here, available and ready to help organisations connect better to their audiences. There are already millions of users enjoying the benefits of and working with IoT devices. The possibilities of improving CX via IoT are indeed monumental. To keep up with market expectations, IoT vendors must be convinced that IoT will have tremendous positive impact on their relationships with their customers.
IoT vendors should be transparent and inform customers that they are using their usage data to optimise the design of products and services and to significantly improve customer satisfaction.
Edmunds.com wrapped the traditional Facilities and Human Resources functions into a combined WEE Team which represents Workplace and Employment Experience. They engaged in a campaign to rid the company of the term “Human Resources”
Airbnbhas a dedicated team to “drive the company’s health and happiness”
Nitro has “turned old-school HR on its head and instead created Employee Experience (EX)
In our upcoming CX research, the early data is showing that EX is the number two initiative for businesses across the globe in 2019. And for information workers, the technology that sits in front of them is a HUGE component of their experience – and their ability to get and stay productive.
Productivity Should Be The Focus Of Our EUC Strategies
Smart businesses understand that. They allow employees to choose (or bring) the devices that they need to remain productive. While desktop PCs might not be making a comeback, they are increasingly being adopted as an alternative to the “laptop as one device” strategy that many businesses embrace. Sometimes a powerful computer with a big screen (or multiple screens) is what people need to get the job done. Other times a small form factor desktop is perfect. Employees may need tablets or smartphones. And other times they need regular laptops, convertibles, or 4G connected laptops. Smart businesses also focus on seamless security – knowing that security is a key enabler of productivity. We are seeing that “The best, most secure device for the job” is taking off as a EUC hardware strategy in businesses that are striving to build a productive and enjoyable employee experience. This helps them to keep employees productive and will help them attract and retain the best talent.
And EUC goes beyond the device to the entire user experience
Collaboration initiatives often disappoint. Limited adoption, and limited interoperability between applications limits effectiveness. There is often a disconnection between the collaboration system and how it helps employees hit their goals. Microsoft is currently rebooting its collaboration strategy – and has created a more modern system that more closely mimics the processes of a typical information worker (Teams). Slackis also taking the world by storm – as it is a collaboration tool that helps people the way they work today – it doesn’t require any training.
IT Operations professionals need to take a fresh look at EUC – but this time within the context of the other initiatives in your business. Do you already have a team focusing on EX? Are there initiatives you can help with – or piggyback on? There is real academic research proving the link between happiness and productivity – or the “state of flow”. IT holds the key to productivity – and therefore happiness – for information workers in particular – it’s time to step up and put employee experience and productivity – not costs – at the centre of our IT end-user computing strategies.