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It’s become a mantra for businesses – “We need to enhance the customer experience by being more personalised.” But there’s a conundrum – you need to achieve this at scale, cost effectively.
There’s general recognition that automation is key to solving this conundrum. But where do you start?
These 4 steps will help you decide which processes to automate. It’s based on years helping retailers, banks, network operators and energy companies automate aspects of the customer journey – and achieve record improvements in operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Step 1: Collect information from across the business and market to understand challenges
Start by understanding your customers and your processes before implementing technology. This means analysing data from across departments, so you’re taking an evidence-based approach to investment.
On the customer service side, look at everything from CSat and NPS results to agent feedback. And consult with employees to understand internal processes from a front-line perspective. This holistic approach will help you identify where challenges lie, so you can home in on areas that need refining. For example, does call time need reducing? Do CSats need boosting? Are call centre costs too high?
Also look at what your direct competitors and the wider market are doing. For example, is there a trend around one-click ordering? Or ways of interacting with agents? No businesses operate in exactly the same way, but this will help you understand what the customer experience is like outside your bubble, so you can tune into customer expectations.
Step 2: Assess processes to see which are best suited to automation
Now you’ve identified the challenges, you can look at the processes affecting those areas. Depending on the results of your data analysis, this may involve looking at an entire department (like the call centre) or a specific process (like customer activation).
This is also the step where you research technology options. And don’t default to whatever is grabbing the headlines. Look across channels – email, web, chatbots, voice, SMS, social and more – to understand how each affects the process.
Step 3: Map your customer journeys to identify where automation will add the greatest value
Take the shortlist of the processes you identified in Step 2 and map them end to end. Look at the technology, touchpoints and teams involved. This will give you clarity on how the customer is affected and how your resources are used at each stage.
For example, if a customer wants to find where their order is, how do they get in touch? If they’re calling, how long are they on hold? How long does the call last once they get through to an agent? How do people behave during the authentication process? What data does the agent access during the call? Does the single call resolve the issue?
You can then see which processes will benefit most from automation – where you’ll see the most value in terms of improved customer experience and operational efficiency.
Step 4: Test and measure
Don’t automate everything at once – test your hypothesis with a specific journey (or part of a journey). See what’s improved and see where customers are getting blocked, so you can incorporate that insight into your full roll-out.
And make sure you link back to the data you analysed in Step 1. Were you trying to reduce call centre costs? Increase NPS results? Cut queue times? Use your metrics to keep focused on what the automation must deliver. That way you can see which processes are getting the most benefit – and can commence wider digitisation with confidence.
Sainsbury’s followed this automation planning process – and ultimately moved 30% of inbound calls to self-service channels.