All too often, it is the technology that makes the difference between a smooth online customer journey and a frustrating one. Today, we are talking frictionless customer experience with CTO Richard Billington. Does it really exist? We look at what levels of friction are tolerated by customers and how to strike the right balance between user experience and strong security. And we also take a look at some of the tools and techniques our customers are using to join the dots in providing seamless customer experience every time.
Richard’s put together his 4 top tips to delivering frictionless customer experience.
1. Adopt a customer-centric mindset
In today’s fast-paced world of on-demand services, entertainment and products, customers have high expectations. Rather than just wanting to be served quickly, they crave personalised and frictionless customer experiences that work for them based on their preferences. However, today’s online customer journeys can still be riddled with issues and consumers are getting less tolerant of setbacks and friction points. Therefore, it has become increasingly important for businesses to adopt a customer-centric mindset as this can have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.
Providing a great customer experience seems simple. You invest in the departments that face your customers, such as marketing, sales and service, and the job gets done. However, online customer experience doesn’t solely depend on the people dealing with customers every day. It is in fact heavily influenced by processes and the technology behind it. All too often, it is the technology that makes the difference between a smooth online customer journey and a frustrating one.
For example, many customer service teams are stuck in what we call the ‘customer experience disconnect’ – they are seeing the gap between what customers are promised and what they actually experience, but remain effectively powerless to do anything about it. They are tied by legacy processes and poorly fitting technologies and are consistently told that their IT and operational teams have bigger fish to fry. That’s not necessarily because IT doesn’t care; it’s because the team has a thousand and one other things to do. Realistically, it can’t drop everything to solve one small problem. But when it comes to customer experience, small problems add up.
If a customer can’t book an appointment because the website is clunky and confusing, the booking widget is broken, and the chat bot is asking irrelevant questions, that can be incredibly frustrating. When they can’t get through to customer services because phone lines are busy and no one responds to their voicemail message, that’s infuriating. And when they don’t receive a response via email, this can be significantly damaging for a business. Unless the customer is trying to reach an essential service, their patience will run out very quickly, and they will likely approach a competitor instead.
2. Strike the right balance between user experience and strong security
It’s important that businesses bring both customer-facing and IT people together. Whilst people who work in customer-facing roles know exactly what it takes to make great user experience a reality, IT needs to be involved, to ensure that any new solutions and processes meet compliance, security and quality standards.
As technology becomes more accessible, some businesses lean towards empowering customer experience teams to deliver solutions and improve user experiences. The risk with this approach is that this team is generally lacking robust expertise in security and data governance, meaning any new developments could be leaving the business exposed.
Through breaking down departmental silos, and empowering customer service, marketing and IT teams to work together, businesses can achieve the right balance of user experience and security. In addition, businesses of course must ensure that they are working with vetted technology suppliers and third-party providers, who take security seriously and can demonstrate the measures they take to ensure that customer data is handled and stored safely. This can include steps such as following industry best practice to enhance application security, meeting independent certification for data centre security, carrying out regular staff screening and vulnerability patching, and making sure that all servers are protected by industry leading antivirus solutions.
3. Don’t let the disconnect between your organisation and a customer let you down
A disconnect between a business and a customer can prove particularly damaging. We understand that lost customers mean lost revenue, a negative impact on brand reputation, and market share attrition. But the same disconnect can also mean that customers will be less likely to share their personal details with businesses that they seemingly can’t trust to use technology well. It is understandable – dealing with a broken online form will hardly encourage anyone to share their personal information.
4. Use tools and techniques that help connect the dots and provide a seamless omnichannel experience
Software such as CRMs and customer portals have become the cornerstone of great customer service, meeting customer demand for self-service whilst easing the burden on contact centres. Yet, creating and implementing customer portals can be a challenge. Out-of-the-box solutions are often inflexible and restrictive, while hiring developers to build bespoke platforms that integrates all the customer touchpoints can be time-consuming and expensive, especially as businesses will need to upgrade and improve it on an ongoing basis.
Low-code software solutions can prove invaluable in providing a seamless omnichannel experience. By enabling IT and customer service teams to consolidate and connect their current multiple systems, low-code solutions can elevate the customer experience and bridge any existing gaps between the communication channels.
Due to their simplistic nature, these applications can be integrated across a business and be used by non-experts and developers alike. Part of the beauty of low-code lies in the ability to collaborate and share experiences and best practice with others, rather than being stuck with a rigid proprietary solution from a third-party provider that may not always be easily approachable.
Besides the ability to quickly build new apps, low-code platforms enable rapid adaptations of online applications to address the challenge of surging volumes of inquiries in emergency situations, such as what we’re seeing during the current coronavirus outbreak. Having access to tools that are easy to use whilst enabling innovation will be key for businesses to build a better digital customer experience.
In addition, analytics tools that help track performance, and offer insights for process improvements and adaptations, are of equal importance. Together, these tools will help empower businesses to remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing digital landscape.
Read more about taking steps to work towards frictionless customer experience, quickly, take a scroll of our customer experience strategy.