Delivering customer experiences that grow your business and brand
By: Yair Wesblum, Customer, Digital, and Strategy Consulting Partner at PwC Canada
Look at any industry thriving today and you’ll quickly find companies that understand the importance of delivering excellent customer experiences. That’s in part because customers have an ever-widening array of options for many of the products and services they buy. They also have an equally wide range of options for broadcasting their opinions on those products and services. Deliver great service and people will hear about it. But deliver bad customer service, and you can be sure that even more people will hear about it.
The key to customer service excellence is found in understanding customer behaviours.
My PwC Canada colleague Erin Graham and I regularly speak with clients across Canada about this service-behaviour connection. We do so in light of two important realities:
If a one-size-fits-all approach ever worked for customer service, that time has passed. Price, efficiency, personalization and agility are all vital to winning in today’s age of the customer.
- Many customers won’t hesitate to bolt. Recent research shows that a third of customers would stop doing business with a brand they love after just one bad customer experience.
In our view, this all leads to four principles to help you provide better customer experiences.
1. Take a customer perspective
How often do you carefully and objectively look at your business from your customers’ perspectives? Do you clearly see your firm from their side of the counter? How much are you doing to enable trust in your brand to retain your customers?
Those who understand their customers’ perspectives know that Canadians, on the whole, value human interaction in the face of technology.
2. Analytics inform decisions
In our Future of Customer Experience Survey, we asked consumers the extent to which they agreed with the following: “Once technology becomes advanced enough, we don’t need real people for great customer experiences.” We found 36% of Canadians strongly disagree with that statement, compared to 25% of global customers.
In other words, technology isn’t always the answer to better customer service-and it can even lead business owners down expensive and unnecessary paths. It’s important for companies to take the customer’s perspective and invest in the most meaningful aspects of customer experience.
Why does a customer decide to not buy from your business? How do you nudge them into changing their mind? And what’s really happening during that moment of truth when their intentions turn into a transaction? Many business leaders don’t know the answers to these questions.
But digging a little deeper into that customer’s journey reveals valuable, actionable insights. And that’s where analytics come into play. They shed light on those intentions-and can help turn them into relationships.
3. Automate where it makes sense
Today’s technology tools, such as ClickFox for cross-channel journey analytics, Medallia for customer feedback management or Salesforce for CRM analytics, let businesses aggregate and analyze data that gets at the crux of the customer experience and enables companies to gain insights. These insights, in turn, inform critical decisions about where, when and how to invest resources dedicated to improving customer service.
The same holds true for business leaders in countless industries: analytics can help you understand your customer’s perspective.
We often tell clients to not automate just for the sake of it if it could compromise human connections. Technology can be part of the answer, certainly. But not all of it.
There’s still little understanding of how technology will impact the customer experience. Our recent CEO Survey showed that fewer than one in three (28%) Canadian CEOs say they’re clear about how robotics and artificial intelligence can improve the customer experience (significantly lower than the 47% of CEOs globally who say the same thing). So it’s important to be mindful and integrate these technologies where they can have the most impact.
Coffee is a case in point. Canadians love it. And our research shows they’ll pay extra if that jolt of caffeine is served up with the right combination of technology and good customer experience.
4. Engaged employees engage customers
Think of Starbucks. They automated ordering and payments with apps and analytics. And while focusing on these aspects of the overall customer experience, they don’t forget about human interaction. They consciously invest in those few-but important-seconds of conversation when a customer picks up her coffee, and they charge premium rates for that coffee while at the same time driving down their back office costs.
This approach won’t work for every business. But the lessons are universal: automate non-value-add functions while accentuating the value-add human elements.
This brings us to employees: the most valuable assets of any company.
Aggregate data helps you understand patterns of customer frustration and delight. But analytics are tools, not strategies. And in our experience, customer-facing employees are much more likely to be good at their jobs-to be engaged in what they’re doing-when given tools and autonomy to respond thoughtfully in solving customer problems.
Good employee experiences lead to good customer experiences: 71% of consumers say a company’s employees have a significant impact on their overall customer experience.
So while algorithms might be able to advertise, they can’t empathize. According to a recent study by Toronto Financial Services Alliance and PwC Canada- Unlocking the human opportunity -54% of financial executives believe 20% or more of tasks will be automated in their organization in the next three to five years. But the report also notes there are many skills unique to humans, such as empathy and creativity.
Find a balance
The right balance helps enhance an organization’s understanding of the customer and ability to address complex needs. Knowing when and how to invest in employees increases their engagement, drives customer satisfaction, increases trust and boosts revenues.
Empower your employees to engage your customers.
There’s no question that technology is important to identify and help adapt to changing customer behaviours and deliver on customer expectations. But don’t forget about people in finding the right balance between automation and human interaction.
What other guiding principles do you follow in your customer experience strategy? Leave us your thoughts and comments.
Originally published on Linkedin on April 17, 2018.