Exceeding Expectations in the Digital Customer Age: Part 1

It wasn’t all that long ago when you had one choice when you needed customer service. You dialed a toll-free number and hoped you wouldn’t have to wait on hold too long before your call was answered by an agent.  How times have changed!

While plenty of customers still use voice channels, there is now a growing number of digital channels to choose from. These include self-service options which, according to a Forrester survey, have become the most widely consumer-embraced method of customer service.  Customers often start a journey on a website, proceed to chat when they have a question, and then call if they have questions about an order. They’re even using multiple channels concurrently.  In other words, today’s customer journeys are dramatically different than they were a decade ago.

As digital technology continues to shape the entire landscape of the contact center, it’s also changing customer expectations. Customers want faster, more flexible, personalized service across every channel, and they will buy from the companies that can provide this high level of service.

Rethinking Digital Customer Service

Vodacom, the leading South African mobile business, certainly recognized that their customers’ expectations were changing as they became more digitally and socially connected. This led them to begin a major business transformation.

“We’ve had 20 years of fantastic growth, but to differentiate and stay ahead, we needed a new approach,” says Gary Hagal, chief officer, Commercial Operations for Vodacom. “Our customers were saying they wanted to be served when and how they chose.”

Vodafone’s experience is by no means unique. Across every industry, companies are having to rethink their customer experience (CX) strategy because of the widespread adoption of digital channels.

Limitations and Roadblocks to Delivering Great Digital CX

With customers now expecting to begin an interaction on one channel and be able to switch to others, a primary goal has to be to tie customer interactions across all voice and digital touchpoints. Unfortunately, legacy call center solutions don’t effectively meet today’s customer expectations.

Despite adopting multiple digital channels, most companies still have voice-centric call center infrastructure.  This creates both departmental and channel siloes that create fractured customer interactions. Without integrated channels, there is also limited insight into contextual and historical data, as well as decreased workforce efficiency.

Vodacom’s managing executive of enterprise service, Ugestra Alwar, shared their particular challenge with siloed channels. “One of the challenges was tying customer interactions across our touchpoints. Customers were managed in a siloed fashion: from a retail, customer care, and digital perspective. What we’re trying to do is to actually allow them to seamlessly transact across those channels.”

The Path to Successful Next Gen Digital Customer Service

As customers increase their use of digital channels and as their expectations continue to rise, service has become a key competitive differentiator and a primary way to build loyalty and brand recognition. Having an aging contact center system in place that doesn’t support how customers conduct their journeys today is a set up for increasing service-related problems and decreasing revenue.

The first step is to evaluate the infrastructure and determine where customer interactions are being fractured. A common weak point is where customers shift from self-service to assisted-service channels.

In the case of Vodacom, they turned to Genesys for help. “We sought an omnichannel strategy, binding customer journeys together within one consistent experience,” says Hagal.

From there, it’s time to evaluate the cost of maintaining a legacy system versus replacing it with a new system of engagement. By making the shift to a single integrated platform that supports omnichannel engagement, there is often significant hardware and maintenance savings, along with the immediate benefits of being able to optimize customer engagement across all self-service and assisted-service channels.

For Vodacom, the implementation of the strategy began with deploying the necessary technology required to enable their customers to start their journey in one channel and seamlessly switch to others. The CX improvement was immediate. Vodacom’s customers no longer have to repeat themselves or re-key data multiple times.

The company also gained a single, real-time view across all touchpoints to give agents the ability to provide more personalized, efficient service. Contact center agents can see the customer’s profile and complete history to fine-tune responses to comments left on social media sites, or to discuss a deal that the customer may have hovered over on their website. They can also offer a web chat or a call to maximize upsell and cross-sell opportunities. The results have been measurable, with an 82% reduction in time to onboard or upgrade customers, a higher NPS, and increased sales conversion rates.

Read their Vodacom success story here or in the video below.

Stay tuned for Part 2, when we’ll discuss how you can support the digital customer service that your customers now expect, give your customers context-aware personalized service, and even maximize customer-driven, digital channels like Facebook and Twitter to create a seamless, end-to-end journey.

In the meantime, learn more about how to identify high-value cross-touchpoint tasks in the Forrester Research report Manage the Cross-Touchpoint Customer Journey.