Earlier this week I attended a CXPA Customer Experience networking event and the discussion topic was technology- how it can help or harm the customer experience. 12 CX leaders across industries and verticals shared some of their current technology pain points and opportunities. We then honed in on the major takeaways and go forward actions from the discussion.
As I reflect back on CX technology discussions over the past 10-15 years, the focus has often been about cost reduction. Specifically, how we can minimize the cost of human resources by getting customers to self service, go online and/or use IVR functionality. There was a general push for customer service to cost less, and an assumption that customers would like to interact with technology.
Now, it is assumed as “table stakes” that your company offers online support options, and that your interactions can work on all types of devices. Providing common, customer facing technologies like chat or IVR, are part of the recipe to simply meet your customer’s expectations.
In the networking event we also talked a lot about using technology for customer surveys. We’ve gotten to a point in history where we get an online survey for just about everything- buying, selling, servicing or visiting, and this is leading to survey fatigue. Survey fatigue, leads to lower response rates, and less customer feedback to help us make decisions.
So, as we think about the future, what do we need to differently with technology that will allow us to truly differentiate the customer experience? The answers – focus on value and real time.
- Value: I encourage operations leaders to look at how they can leverage technology and automation behind the scenes to materially improve the customer experience, so the customers experience the outcomes, not the point and click. Ask yourself, how can we make our products or services easier to use, easier to implement and easier to support? How can we improve speed and quality, with technology? Focus your technology discussions and investments on adding value not reducing costs.
- Real time, Ask and Act: As mentioned above, we are all asked to fill out online feedback surveys on a regular basis and the majority focus on rating an experience that happened in the past. In addition, it is common that we never know what happened as a result of that feedback or if anyone actually cared.
- For example, my health club sends out automated feedback surveys once per quarter. For the past two quarters I provided the same feedback about improvement opportunities and to date, none of these things have been addressed. When I received this quarter’s survey, I wrote the same feedback, but made a point of saying that I keep sharing these comments, yet nothing gets done. The manager of the health club made a point to email me, to show he listened, however, no actions have been taken. Not sure why company’s ask, if they do not plan to act.
- One of the attendees of the CXPA networking event is the founder of a company that offers real time survey technology for the hotel industry. The common practice for most hotel chains is to send a satisfaction survey after check out. Since the stay has ended, there is no opportunity to correct any of the customer service issues (if applicable) and that customer may never come back to the hotel again.
- With this specialized software, hotel guests are enabled to provide feedback real time at any point before, during or after his or her stay. This feedback is swiftly and electronically shared with key leaders across the hotel, and corrective action can be taken immediately. The software also allows hotel managers to quickly identify trends, either positive or negative.
- This software can definitely propel the real time focus forward, but there may also be ways to leverage our existing tools in new, faster ways.
Is customer experience technology our friend or foe? It is our friend, if we move our focus from customer facing points and clicks, to the positive outcomes behind the scenes technology and automation can drive. It is our friend if we move from lagging data collection to real time listening and acting.