The True Cost of Not Embracing Digital Transformation

Adarsh Srivastava
Saarthi.ai
Published in
9 min readNov 20, 2019

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Enterprises are stood at the 11th hour of service transformation, as customer-experience standards have been set high.

As losses become astronomical with customers switching brands without fretting, enterprises are on the verge of making serious inroads towards Digital Transformation.

How the lack of a unified connected omnichannel digital experience hurts businesses?

Status-Quo Leading to Astronomical Losses to Businesses.

As reported by the “ NewVoiceMedia’s 2018 “Serial Switchers” report, businesses lose $75 Billion due to poor customer service every year. Customers are more likely to switch brands as they were in the last report conducted in 2016 if they’re not provided with the kind of experience that they seek.

These are staggering numbers which testify to brands’ failure in creating a positive emotional experience for their customers.

According to another recent study, 91% of customers who are unhappy with a brand will leave without complaining.

The negative experience is not alone a case with end-users, but also with support representatives who go through the ordeal of answering repetitive queries that could easily be automated.

They’re overwhelmed by a high flux of customer queries from several critical touch-points, and despite their utmost attempts to giving better customer experience, they’re under fire.

This not only causes work-dissatisfaction but also slumps productivity due to the humdrum nature of work and constant pressure.

71% of respondents (Support reps) recognized difficulties with their systems and inefficiency of their tools as the top contributor to agents’ workday stress.

So, how essential is it to align their digital transformation strategy with changing digital behavior of end-users?

Conversational AI: Lynchpin to Digital Convergence?

Conversational AI is beckoned as the technology to abridge any gaps between customer expectations and service delivery.

Factors like increased internet penetration, the rise of free service in exchange for data, cheaper compute, open-source technology, and advancements in Natural Language Processing (NLP) have acted as stimuli to these changes.

The growing popularity of messaging platforms, a greater demand for personalized services, and a gigantic surge of vernacular language users have further lead to a digital shift. Of course, there’s the everlasting need for instant gratification.

The way businesses communicate with their customers and value-exchange need transformation. Hitherto, and despite the clear indication of a digital revolution, enterprises are yet to align their digital strategies to the new digital age.

Where Enterprises need to Transform

Collectively, there’s an array of things that businesses are doing wrong

  • Lack of a unified, omnichannel, proactive support strategy.
  • Lack of end-to-end digital lifecycle management of a Non-English user.
  • Overburdened support agents
  • Giving customers a frustrating IVR experience.

In this article, we will explore each of these pain-points in detail and see how enterprises can bring about this shift, by better processes/systems and technology for better experience and productivity.

1# Lack of a Unified, Omnichannel, Proactive Support strategy

Giving customers a positive experience means proactively connecting with them at their preferred touchpoint with omnichannel customer support and 24*7 service.

The online audience has now expectations high when it comes to customer experience and support. Sales, especially in the sector of e-commerce, is directly influenced by instant responses and round-the-clock availability.

Customers today, on an average, use up to 3 channels to communicate with a business, and messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are becoming niches for business communications, to reach out proactively.

9 out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel experience with seamless service between communication channels.

These are critical touch-points, where it is important to deliver a 24x7 automated service, and also give customers the ease of self-service. But the status-quo suggest that companies are yet to address these issues, as 30% of customers indicate their attempts at self-service fail.

Customer Service is multi-touch, as queries come from various channels, and there is a lack of a unifying mechanism to serve customers proactively. This leads to siloed information across disparate systems and channels.

Ultimately, as they contact again, customers can be misinformed, and transferred from agent to agent across departments. This leads to sheer frustration for customers, and 67% of them switch providers if they feel their time isn’t valued or encounter rude or multiple agents or don’t get answers.

Introducing a Conversational UI unifies touchpoints by eliminating silos, and carries a conversational thread across these touchpoints, to give customers a consistent experience, and business a 360-degree view of customer communications.

This not only leads to saving of important time but empowers support agents to resolve faster with uniform information.

#2 Lack of end-to-end digital lifecycle management of a non-English user

In the ascension of billions of non-English users getting online, multilingual services need to be built on robust technologies.

Non-English internet users have for long tried, albeit in vain, to adapt to the prevalence of English on the internet.

While, today, there are demography-based advertisements in user’s language, there’s no means to take the conversion (click) forward once they have arrived at a landing page, a social media page or a mobile application.

This is a cause for a major disconnect, as users are blocked from getting lower into the funnel and make a sale.

The same is a challenge for native language customers when they come online to look for product information and get support majorly in English.

74% of the global customers are less likely to transact with your business, if they do not get support in their language.

Let’s consider the typical customer journey of a non-English user, to understand this asymmetry in language.

At the top of a funnel, a native user clicks on an advertisement that may be in his language. He is redirected to a product page or a website, that is no longer in his language, but in English. He may resort to live-chat support or call customer service, which is also in English.

As a result, the customer now not only has trouble understanding the product, he’s also developed lesser trust in committing to the sale, and hence doing that transaction.

Taking that into perspective, and realizing that approximately 91% of the population worldwide are not native English speakers, businesses need to transform the way they communicate.

Innovative technology companies are solving this gap, by building robust language technologies to cater to language-diverse customer bases.

With advances in NLP, today’s conversational systems understand multiple languages and can speak the language of your customers.

Native NLP stacks integrated into Multilingual Language Understanding Engines (NLU), empower enterprises to serve their language-diverse customer bases.

Reliable and scalable multilingual conversational agents are fast winning over customers for enterprises.

#3 Overburdened Support Agents

Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

The negative experience is not a case with customers alone, but also with support representatives who go through the ordeal of answering repetitive queries that could easily be automated.

They’re often overwhelmed by a high flux of customer queries from several critical touch-points, and despite their utmost attempts to giving better customer experience, they’re under fire. This not only causes work-dissatisfaction, but also slumps the productivity due to the humdrum nature of work, and constant pressure.

87% of customer support leaders acknowledged that their agents experience a moderate to high level of stress during their workday.

Companies have introduced business and domain-specific Conversational AI to augment customer service, for automation of almost 80% of the first-tier queries, and seen an instant increase in their CSAT scores. In most cases, only the top 10 to 20% of the queries require premier human intervention.

In scenarios where it is required for a human to intervene and take control of the conversation, Conversational AI can smartly route to the right department with context intact. This can help agents address customer queries faster.

“80% of service decision-makers believe AI is most effective when deployed with — rather than in place of — humans.”

Support representatives have reaped benefits and had their sigh of relief; 64% have been able to improve work productivity and work on critical matters, with the aid of Conversational AI.

Automation has not only led to improved agent satisfaction and customer experience but also saved companies almost 30% of their operational expenditure.

Collectively, by 2020, customer support chatbots will save businesses like yours $8 billion a year!

#4 Giving customers a frustrating IVR experience

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

For long, experience has been blighted by rigid DTMF based IVR systems that are a cause for protracted wait times and sheer frustration for customers. The fact that 56% of people would rather message than call customer service is indicative of how poor the traditional IVR experience is.

Customers have to endure rigid flows, mazed menus before they finally manage to get routed to a support agent, who then queries the customer with a set of questions for authentication. All this leads to a poor overall experience and adds to customer frustration.

83% of callers would avoid a company after a poor experience with an interactive voice response (IVR) system.

However, it gets worse as there is no reprieve for customers even once they’re able to get authenticated, navigate the annoying menu, and finally get in touch to a support agent. They have to tediously explain problems to different agents as they’re bounced off from one department to another.

89% of customers get frustrated having to repeat their issues to multiple representatives.

We’re already aware of how compelled customers are to switch brands that show a lack of empathy and waste their time.

The resolve can be achieved by injecting the IVR experience with the ability to engage customers in automated and free-flowing conversations with a Smart IVR System. This can help cut rigid menus and long call-duration, by transforming a DTMF based IVR experience into an exchange of productive dialogue.

Improving speech technologies like Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) and Text-to-Speech (TTS), integrated with a robust natural language understanding engine (NLU) help Conversational IVR better understand the customer intent in multiple languages.

Where authentication has been an irksome process, biometric speech authentication can make the process seamless and non-intrusive.

Moreover, when there’s a need for a human touch, the IVR can instantly route to the right department with context and information intact, thus empowering support agents to resolve faster.

The true cost of not embracing a Digital Transformation Strategy

Business Transformation is stood at the 11th hour as consumer behaviour is drastically changing.

We’ve already seen that today, customer loyalty careens at the edge of dissatisfaction, at so much as getting one bad experience.

So, what does it cost to not revamp the digital strategy?

Let’s look at a few statistics –

- 83% of callers would avoid a company after a poor experience with an interactive voice response (IVR) system.

- The average time it takes a company to respond to a message is 10 hours on messaging platforms (Oracle,2016)

- 50% or more will abandon an online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to a question.

- 67% switch providers if they feel their time isn’t valued or encounter rude or multiple agents or don’t get answers.

-54% of customers say companies need to transform how they engage with them

Summary

The change in the dynamics of how businesses need to engage their customers has been manifested by multiple factors such as the growing popularity of messaging channels, customer need for instant gratification, surge in vernacular digital users.

Businesses are stood at the 11th hour of service transformation, as customer-experience standards have been set high, and losses become astronomical as customers switch brands without fretting about it.

We have seen a few areas where businesses need to quickly pay attention to, which will quickly prove ROI as well as an improvement in CX.

However, the few parameters of measurement are feasible and scalable technology, the robustness of language understanding engines, and many other aspects that are business-relative.

In the coming articles, we shall see how careful conception and re-calibration of digital strategy leads to customer delight.

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Adarsh Srivastava
Saarthi.ai

Shaping category design and marketing for differentiated B2B SaaS