According to Gartner’s 2019 Strategic Roadmap for Customer Service and Support Technologies (May 2019), “an organization’s CSS technology stack is often composed of disparate overlapping systems, leaving both customers and employees with a disjointed experience.”
Legacy customer support platforms were developed for the preferred communication channels at that time, which was traditionally voice. Customers called support agents through a switched telephony network and talked through issues at length. Technology has evolved significantly and created better live communication channels, not specifically for support, but for general interactions. The cognitive distance between a remote support agent and a customer should collapse due to these technologies.
On feature phones, SMS/MMS gave people the ability to communicate on-the-go via another channel. Then the advent of the smartphone added high-speed data connections, camera, location and motion sensors, giving consumers the ability to communicate through various methods interchangeably, not only channels, as they preferred.
But Why Were Customer Support Tools Left Behind?
Companies slowly added, not integrated, some of these channels in a fragmented manner. Even though a consumer is sending hundreds of messages a day to friends and family, posting on social media, and emailing through their mobile device; customer support organizations are still only offering disconnected experiences over voice, email, and possibly limited desktop chat options.
UJET believes the Four Pillars of Great Customer Service by Gartner closely aligns with the UJET’s core thesis, making support an integral part of the product or service, with an emphasis on delightful customer experience for the smartphone-centric and cloud-native personas engaged in these interactions.
Offering a customer support experience that’s developed to take advantage of modern and common technology, enable customers to engage cross-channel, and provide a platform that simplifies, but increases the efficiency of support organizations.
Getting Customers Connected
In today’s world, it would be prudent for businesses to first look at consumer demographics. Baby boomers and Generation X have been losing purchasing influence to Millennials and Generation Z. Simultaneously, these two latter groups are innately mobile-focused.
Rather than disrupting learned behavior, Millennials have grown up with quickly evolving technology. Generation Z was born with the internet and mobile devices as basic necessities.
These demographics force rapid change through many industries from finance, retail, travel, and on-demand services. Each of these also includes a high touch customer support component, yet the support journey continues to focus on grandfathered channels with really frustrating customer experience flows.
Companies must strategize and offer a proactive customer experience. Grandfathered channels, like PSTN voice and email, need to be refreshed with context and additional intelligence understanding the latest activity on their account.
With Millennial and Generation Z rapidly taking the position of the influential consumer control group, their expectations of fluid channel communications need to be met. Rather than consider each channel as a separate object, customer support has to think about how to communicate effectively on every channel.
Customers don’t think about contacting support based on channel, they think about convenience. Also, just by offering multiple channels, that are disjointed, paints a picture of the customer journey and sentiment does not make it omnichannel, but rather broken multichannel.
UJET reimagines this experience by doubling down on its design DNA. Understanding that the urgency and complexity of the issue should dictate the channel experience rather than the other way around, opens up a delightful flow of customer journeys.
Often our customers utilize our platform to curate these flows by supporting important and effective channels for support organizations. Voice and IVR are baseline support options. They are still effective when paired with relevant context, machine learning, and establishing a simultaneous data connection for real-time exchange of information while on the call.
Instead of generic menu options, customization implemented from customer data can direct customers to self-service solutions rather than connecting them to a live agent for simple tasks like password or address changes, bill payments, and/or finding faster shipping options. This leaves the agent free to address more complex and urgent issues.
Messaging, which includes mobile or desktop webchat, SMS/MMS text chat, and mobile in-app chat, is a channel that customers, especially Generation Z and Millennials love to use. These messaging interactions don’t always have to be supported by a live agent. UJET’s upcoming Automated Agent based on Conversational AI can use data intelligence, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence to answer repetitive questions.
Again, with our UX focus and following customer expectations, the UJET platform natively supports common customer actions like security authentication, through face verification or fingerprint authenticity, or sending media. Just like sending a friend a photo or video, customers can send photos, videos, and screenshots to an agent through messaging to further improve issue context.
The end result is offering customers the same communication tools and options that they use daily and not being deprived of them during the customer support experience.
Engagement Process Orchestration
A customer’s first response isn’t typically to immediately contact support for a problem. They search online for a possible solution before searching the Contact Us page or Help section. Customers actively search for self-serve solutions before reaching out to support. This disconnect is a big business opportunity.
Developing self-serve options minimizes frustration and offers customers the best solutions without or prior to agent involvement. The success of a customer support organization shouldn’t be simply a high number of closed issues because true customer success isn’t a short-term KPI measurement. Customer success is achieved when support positively affects an entire business.
Voice IVR, augmented with natural language process and data intelligence, can direct customers toward solutions faster than an audio tree that lists limited available options. Voice IVR shouldn’t be limited to nine options, but visual IVR also doesn’t need to require scrolling through the whole spectrum of issues, which ends up frustrating the customer.
Analyzing customer data will often reveal common and repetitive issues. Customers can simply say the problem, language processing understands the description, appends context and connects to a self-serve solution. If it’s a high priority issue, or if the user segment is high LTV, the IVR can then connect customers directly to a specialized agent.
Visual IVR, available in messaging or mobile app, offers the convenience of quickly moving through options so the customer locates a solution fast. Visual IVR can also effectively be served through messaging, where the customer can first be shown a Knowledge Base answer while waiting or before connecting to an agent.
Optimizing self-service options so they are available in all channels creates a channel-agnostic experience. It doesn’t matter how the customer contacts support, they will have the same data-supported experience that will take them to the right endpoint in the shortest amount of time.
Customers aren’t concerned with how a company wants to engage with them. Instead, customers prioritize their own convenience and the speed that the issue can be resolved. It takes a lot of time to build brand loyalty, but only requires one negative experience for a company to lose a customer forever.
UJET’s cloud-native platform allows support organizations to fully customize and transform the IVR journey in real-time. If a supervisor finds a need to adjust the IVR tree, they are able to change options without needing any other team’s assistance. These changes are automatically pushed into the support experience cross-channel, including mobile apps without having to reset anything or require any download updates.
For repetitive issues, an admin can curate the path to channel steer to a structured self-serve portal, freeing up agents to focus on high priority and urgent issues and ensuring that when customers are in need of a rapid resolution they can connect with an agent right away.
It’s about time that companies stop trying to determine the customer support experience and expect customers to blindly follow. There are more options for customers and they are quick to find other businesses that meet their expectations.
Knowledge and Insight
Measuring metrics and utilizing data for improving business strategy is key to every company’s success. This goes beyond sales and increasing revenue and must include the customer experience. Customer data is one of the largest tools that can evolve customer support to be more effective.
High-level data like demographics, conversion stats, website and app traffic, and more can all curate the customer experience. This data can strategize agent headcount, channel support, and expected support request volume. High-level data can set the base level preparation for a customer support organization.
Further in-depth stats like individual customer history, mobile device information, or issue frequency can be used to evaluate what tools are needed. Leveraging this data can help companies provide a more personalized and one-of-a-kind support experience. With that customer information, agents or properly implemented AI can increase resolution especially if the issue is from the last purchase.
Mobile device information is a great source of information for app-centric brands. Operating system compatibility, OEM issues, or other hardware related issues might be very difficult to pinpoint over a voice call. Issue frequency will help create better support interactions.
A repetitive issue can be forwarded to a relevant team outside of customer support to improve a product. And support can create a focused self-service solution or option for customers, relieving agents from this issue.
Companies can do more with data than create email marketing lists, segment customers into groups, and get a full 360-degree view of their customers. High level and deep data help support organizations create better strategies and processes for customers. IVR trees can be customized for high-level issues which lead to self-service options and specific direct access points can be used to get customers to an agent quickly for urgent issues.
Inactive agents are a wasted resource and also is known to reduce agent effectiveness. It’s important that agents are engaged at all times, but being engaged is more than just helping customers. They could be learning about a new tool or researching a high priority issue that they might specialize in. This is why it’s important to use actionable data and insights to understand support trends like high volume contact times throughout the day, week, month, and year.
By using data trends, supervisors can scale support teams as needed. Outside of predictable surge times like consumer holidays, support might need more agents with a new product launch or a major update.
Agents can be trained and prepared for incoming issues so that customers aren’t stuck waiting for help. Additional agents can be positioned in specific queues so that they connect with customers even faster.
Segmenting incoming support issues direct customers to knowledgeable agents while reducing contact time. This all leads to better customer experiences. Supervisors can also set up agent-specific queues so that specific types of issues are intelligently routed.
Companies should also apply smarter strategies to support teams. Instead of using every agent to blanket a wider variety of issues, or conversely, setting up agent pools with highly specialized skills that require unnecessary transfers, supervisors should be looking at actionable data and applying strategies to use the talents of agents while reducing any customer frustration.
UJET Offers the Tools for Great Customer Service
Companies have to stop considering customer support as a checkbox and give it a firm seat at the overall business strategy table. Customers today are smarter and unforgiving, and as a result, they expect more from companies they do business with.
They simply have many choices to take their business elsewhere if not satisfied with the service. This is more than a one-way transaction, building a relationship similar to what they have with friends and family.
By offering an identical support experience, regardless of the channel, and creating a positive customer experience with more self-service options and access points, can make companies stand out in this crowded marketplace. Use actionable data to improve customer flows, create self-service options, develop intelligent automation, and remove repetitive agent tasks. Finally, use all of these together to give your agents the power to help customers efficiently without forcing repetition.
The UJET platform has proven to meet today’s demanding customer support expectations. If you procrastinate and look to implement support technology in the future, you will be too late and may never get the opportunity to proactively improve your customer support experience.