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As products and services become more commoditized, it’s increasingly difficult for brands to differentiate themselves in the market. The primary driver for buyers of commodities is price. And because price is the traditional battleground, companies focus on cutting and controlling costs. But in an experience economy — where consumers want to feel heard and understood and that their time is respected — it takes more than a low price to win them over and earn their loyalty.
I’m a purchaser of goods and services. Sometimes my wife assists me in buying a lot of goods and services. And, in that process, we look at products, compare features and compare prices. But our research doesn’t end there. We also take time to look at how other consumers feel about the product and their experiences with the company. We’re not alone. According to a Global Newswire survey, 95% of consumers read reviews before buying a product. And here’s the kicker: 58% said that they would pay more for products of a brand with good reviews.
Are we really in a commoditized market if we can have a competitive differentiator like brand preference and loyalty?
I’ve found, and I’m sure you have too, 1-star or 0-star reviews almost always have something to do with experience.
Maybe the product didn’t work as planned, but more often I see that people are frustrated with how the brand supported them in their experience. You’ll see comments like this:
“It was really challenging to get my product, and I had to constantly check status of my order.”
“I tried to contact customer service, but they couldn’t help me.”
“I had to contact the company several times about my issue and each time it was like I was starting over.”
You can sense the frustration and dissatisfaction in these comments. You can also imagine the brand damage that goes along with them.
Now, here’s another perspective. My wife (you remember her from earlier) and I had purchased a nice dresser and nightstand set from Hooker furniture seven years ago. Recently, we decided to downsize into a new home, and the dreaded process of moving entered our life. The movers were awesome and made a challenging event much easier. Unfortunately, after the dust had settled and everything was moved in, one of the movers made me aware that a handle on our beloved Hooker nightstand had been sheared off in the packing/unpacking process. My heart sank.
That night, I visited the Hooker website, found a way to contact the company and sent them a message. The next day, I received an email from a company representative asking some specific questions about the piece. He gave me some coaching on where I could find the details of the model and series, asked me to take a picture, and then send it to him to confirm parts and availability. I saw a glimmer of hope and a chance to save the nightstand.
Shortly after sending the picture, I received notice of the part number I needed, estimated replacement cost and the contact number for service. I called the service number, provided my information to the representative who was then current on the case and previous conversations. She asked how many handles I needed. I replied that I would take two of them. She said, “OK great, I put this order in, I’m going to ship these two your home address at no charge. You should have them in a few days.”
I’m sure the sun was probably already shining outside my window, but it felt at that moment like it was brighter and the birds were singing. It was more beautiful than the day before.
I’d like you to consider the power of the positive experience in the previous scenario. And think of my willingness to openly promote and support this brand because of how the company supported me. I do love our nightstands, but the nightstands didn’t deliver this great customer experience — the people did.
Certainly, the company position on customer satisfaction is key to this. But the employees involved were informed and empowered. There were connections across the experience that reduced the need for me to retell my story; it felt easy and seamless.
I was connected with the right resources, who had the skills to assist me and get me to the best outcome for both me and the company. And the employee was armed with information at their fingertips to — quickly and efficiently — get me what I needed. This was a great example of win-win; the customer (me) walked away feeling incredible about the experience and the interactions were effective and efficient for the company.
Experience orchestration applies not only to customer experience (CX) but also to employee experience (EX) and engagement. It’s a designed flow of information, feedback, coaching and connection that empowers employees and reduces the cognitive burden to accomplish necessary tasks. It begins with understanding employee skills and proficiencies and continually assessing performance to develop and reinforce successful approaches.
Orchestrating successful employee experiences also means leveraging skill information to connect the right work with the right resources. Doing so increases employee confidence. Think of it: How great would it be to continually receive work that you’re comfortable with and good at? And skilled resources are efficient and effective — reducing workload with increased first-contact resolution and reduced handle times.
Artificial intelligence (AI) makes this process easier and more scalable; it looks at the attributes of each customer — who they are, where they’ve been in their journey, their intent, demographic, psychographic, etc. — and then evaluates the performance attributes of each employee to determine the best resource to route each interaction based on the probability of a successful outcome.
For new employees who are developing their skills or experienced employees who are refreshing their skills, a successful employee engagement strategy includes developing and delivering targeted and personalized learning and feedback. This allows managers to continually provide support and growth for each employee. And companies are using technologies like gamification to raise awareness and foster a fun, creative environment for traditional performance metrics.
Much of employee effort and frustration centers around trying to find the right information in the moment to assist and satisfy customers. AI is being used to surface relevant knowledge in real time as the conversation unfolds to make both the customer and the representative feel confident in the exchange of information. And it reduces the cognitive burden and operational costs.
AI is also working as a valuable partner for auto-summarization of interaction conversations to help categorize the reason for a customer interaction as well as notes from the interaction — without placing the heavy lift on the resource to document. This increases awareness of customer needs and trends.
Contact centers are also using technology to automate simple tasks and route tasks to the next person in a process. Companies are further transforming their operations by leveraging the power of skills and routing to identify the right resource and route each task to the right back-office resource. This eliminates the need for employees to sort, prioritize and distribute work — and they’re provided with insights into demand and productivity metrics.
Orchestrating experiences of customers and employees empowers you to deliver exceptional satisfaction and operational efficiency. It also creates loyal promoters who will differentiate your brand.
Get a demo today to see how experience orchestration can improve your customer and employee experiences.