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Have you seen the film Her?
The protagonist, played by Joaquin Phoenix, starts using a new AI-driven operating system with a female voice called Samantha (rather than Alexa or Siri). He develops a relationship with Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), whose speech and emotions feel like a real personality. His experience with the technology is so life-like that he fancies himself in love with “her.”
That’s obviously an extreme example of digital customer experience (CX), and we certainly don’t want people developing unhealthy relationships with our technology. But the film presents an interesting situation for brands to consider – because we do want our CX to foster relationships and lead to engagement.
Indeed, organisations are focusing more on digital CX than ever before. For more than 50% of them, customer experience is a top objective – above net profit and revenue growth.
So what’s the best way to optimise the digital customer experience? Where should you focus your efforts to see the greatest improvements? Follow these 3 steps.
Start by identifying your key customer personas
78% of organisations have increased the budget allocated to improve customer experience, which means it’s worth getting the most value from that investment. So we need to prioritise.
One of the challenges with digital proliferation is that there are so many potential customer journeys and touchpoint combinations. Segment your customers based on demographics and behaviour, pulling in feedback from marketing, sales, customer service, product development and more, so you get the full picture. Look at a broad spectrum of data, including marketing, purchasing, NPS and CSat results.
Next, map your digital customer journeys
Customer journey mapping helps you see where the gaps and bottlenecks are. You can then analyse how the organisation handles common queries, so you can find more efficient ways of managing them. This will generally involve a combination of automation and human assistance.
Let’s look at a recent retail experience as an example. A few months ago, I ordered groceries online. I received, as expected, a confirmation email listing the products and my expected delivery date. So far, so good.
One week later, I hadn’t received any updates. I contacted customer service, and they told me my order had been delivered 2 days ago to my building’s reception.
“Why wasn’t I informed?” I asked.
“We don’t notify customers during the delivery process,” they replied.
I’d been expecting to receive an email or SMS telling me my parcel was out for delivery – and had then been delivered. After all, that’s now standard practice for many retailers, and the expectation is there. I ended up getting a refund, and I’ve never ordered from them again.
Delivery updates are low hanging fruit for this grocer (pardon the pun). A customer journey mapping exercise would highlight this gap, and then it would be easy to introduce automated communications to solve it.
Then, prioritise your channels
Looking at your personas and customer journeys, consider this question: “What are my key personas’ favourite channels for interacting with the business at each stage?”
The trends will help you plan your next steps.
For example, it may involve consolidating information, so customers can access it in one fell swoop. Aer Lingus launched a mobile booking reference number service, allowing passengers to receive full itinerary details and boarding passes on their mobile phones.
It may involve introducing better self-service options. A major health and beauty retailer implemented a NextGen IVR system, with a virtual assistant providing personalised answers, reducing wait times and taking pressure off the call centre. And it may involve chatbots or SMS, which are easy to implement and can give both CX and operational efficiency a major boost
Think in terms of relationship-building
Customers who have a positive customer experience are 3.6 times more likely to buy additional products or services from a brand.
In other words, it pays to make improvements to your digital CX.