Revealed: Three key trends in customer engagement

All customer service channels need to be inter-connected



Customers may forget what you say, they may forget what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel. This is because customer experiences, whether positive or negative, are undoubtably the first factor that defines their perception of your organisation.

To understand how to deliver the exceptional experiences that customers love, it is important to first acknowledge the trends that are most significantly influencing the ways customers opt to engage.

Voice is making a comeback

Today, the typical consumer has Siri on their phone, and/or a smart speaker with Alexa or Google in their home. The popularity of these assistants is driven by their ability to let users interact in natural language through conversational interfaces. As such, voice isn’t just making a comeback – it’s set to entirely change the user interfaces we know today. It isn’t hard to imagine many traditional Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), such as websites for example, fading into the background, front ended instead by virtual assistants. Similarly, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the clutter of smartphone apps all but disappear, with their functionalities instead accessed via API-enabled virtual assistants.

At the same time, we must recognise the potential for text to co-exist along voice as a key conversational interface. Why? A quick look at the way almost anyone under the age of 25 communicates, provides the answer. Today, we have an entire generation of consumers that know of nothing other than text as their primary means of digital communications.

Furthermore, because 79 per cent of consumers today expect an immediate response, irrespective of which channel they chose to engage with an organisation. Hence all customer service channels need to be inter-connected. It doesn’t matter what the interaction is, what channel they’re contacting you via, what device they using, or what resources they need to solve the problem — you need to ensure the experience is seamless across the entire journey of every interaction. This goes hand in hand with the need to make customer interactions intuitive, proactive, and easy. From the customers’ perspective, ‘it just needs to happen’.

The rise of machines

There is of course all the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI). For a while now, AI has been working behind the scenes, enhancing the way we serve customers. However now, if we look beyond the basic automation of mundane tasks, we can see it has the potential to empower and augment the way your employees operate. Consider how a customer journey could be enhanced at every stage through the use of innovative AI solutions.

A customer contacts the organisation and is greeted by a chatbot that evaluates their need. Their request is then intelligently routed to the best possible agent based on predictive behaviour, past preferences and other such criteria. While the agent converses with the customer, the AI stays engaged, providing helpful prompts and guidance in real time to them serve the customer most efficiently. And because AI has the ability to analyse vast amounts of data rapidly, it can quickly turn that into insights ― such as sentiment analysis — so that additional resources can be called upon if required. In short, the value of AI lies in augmenting rather than merely automating, and empowering rather than replacing.

Empowering your ‘internal customers’

While focusing on doing all this for customers, you can’t afford to overlook your employees. After all, if you expect to deliver the kind of customer experience that really impacts how people feel about your organisation, you need to make sure the employees serving those customers are getting exactly the same, intuitive and empowering experience.

Employee productivity and efficiency can be greatly enhanced by tailoring their workspace environment to what they do, their specific function and how they go about serving customers. To be effective, their engagements must also be informed — this means having data that gives them full visibility and understanding of who the customer is, the journey they’ve been on and the complete background of the interaction at hand.

Connectivity is key to empowering employees to deliver intelligent customer experiences. They need to have instantaneous real-time access to every single resource in your organisation, every piece of data, and every app that they may need to service your customers. And of course, for all this to be empowering rather than overwhelming, it all needs to be intuitive, as every second spent searching for data is time taken away from directly engaging with customers and making them feel that they’re the rightful centre of attention.

To thrive in the era of the millennial, you need to be equipped and ready to address the new enablers of customer experience.

Giselle Bou Ghanem is the customer engagement solutions sales manager for Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Avaya