We recently had the pleasure of attending the 5th Annual Customer Experience Strategies Summit last week in Toronto (our home town). We were honoured to be featured among some phenomenal speakers - watch a live recording of our presentation from the summit here. Over the course of 2 days we enjoyed some great conversations with innovative customer experience leaders from a variety of industries…and we got to enjoy some amazing food courtesy of the Ritz Carlton staff who were amazing hosts!
We have so many takeaways from the summit, but ones that especially stand out for us are focused on bridging the gap between IT and business teams, smoothing out the omnichannel approach, customer self-service tools and how IoT is changing the game completely.
1. IT and Business Must Get on the Same Page
From our conversations with fellow attendees, it’s clear that many companies are still facing a common roadblock when it comes to innovating their customer experience – the communication gap between IT and business teams. Bridging this gap should be a high priority for business if they want to gain a competitive advantage and boost customer loyalty and engagement.
Businesses can begin to bridge this gap by opening up more dialog and by working to find a common language as well as common goals for both teams. One of the ways to do this is focus on the business impact of a project first and the technology second and then come up with a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure success. At the end of the day it’s the business requirements that dictate the underlying technology needed to support it. It’s often the case that IT and business do have the same goals they just speak a different language.
To learn more, watch our webinar Bridging the IT-Business gap to Bring Your Customer Experience Vision to Life.
2. Companies Must Manage Omnichannel Experiences
Several speaking sessions during the CX Summit explored the need for companies to streamline their omnichannel strategies. For example, a session titled “How to Use Virtual Agents to Enhance Omni-channel Experience and Client Retention” by Neff Hudson from USAA looked at the role virtual agents can play in providing fast access to needed information. It recommended a blend of virtual and live agent support to effectively handle easier questions without staffing while still allowing customers to engage with someone if necessary.
Another amazing session from Terry Gardiner of Telus detailed how consumer demands are requiring support tools to integrate with various channels. And, customers will often travel across these channels in order to resolve a question or problem to their liking. Companies should find gaps in their service offerings by reviewing their operations, continually improving, and focusing on building a brand culture of service and customer-centric thinking. And back to our first point – it’s also imperative that companies align their goals and their culture across business divisions in order maximize the success of any omnichannel strategy.
3. The Importance of Seamless Self-Service
As omnichannel offerings expand due to consumer demand, companies will need to find tools to help manage the costs of service. One approach is to implement sophisticated self-service tools, where consumers have multiple opportunities throughout their experiences to answer their own questions, manage their accounts, and resolve problems.
Many of the speaking sessions (and informal conversations) during the CX Summit focused on customer care and service as central to a quality experience. An example of quality self-service can be found with Amazon, where consumers can process returns, adjust their account information, and perform many other actions without ever needing to actually speak to a support person. But when help is needed, the online chat is available around the clock and most problems are fixed promptly – I think we can all agree this is the direction every company should be moving toward.
On the business side, Amazon’s self-service even allows third-party sellers to begin offering products through Amazon without any interaction with a sales or operation staff member at Amazon.
A key part of self-service is the tech and UI that is required to create a portal that is simple to use and allows customers to complete tasks that previously required significant work from support staff. And of course actions taken through self-service need to be instantly shared across other channels, to enable the seamless experience.
4. The Transformative Impact of IoT
Many attendees at the event touched on the broad impacts we’ll see from IoT in the near future, especially as they relate to the customer experience. As physical devices increasingly relay information to both consumers and companies, there will be a shift in how those devices and the Big Data they generate are used.
One of the industries that will benefit the most from IoT in the next couple years is retail. Retailers are starting to revive their brick-and-mortar stores in the wake of the eCommerce revolution with sensors and beacons that can helped them deliver real-time personalized offers and optimize store layouts - bringing the “Amazon experience” in-store. IoT will eventually transform nearly every industry, not just retail – we are living in an exciting time!