Make Providing a Superior Customer Experience Your New Year’s Resolution

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Customers want immediate, thorough, and successful omni-channel customer care, and for a growing range of products and services.  So why not make it your 2015 resolution to provide this excellent Customer Experience?  Chances are you’ll be rewarded with greater customer loyalty, social media referrals, lowered costs, and greater profits.

Customers today use Web self-service, mobile apps, and social media before contacting customer service.  When customers do reach out to companies, they expect agents to have anticipated their needs, preferences, and issue from self-service, and from previous interactions, and to resolve them without escalations or repeated contacts.

Customers are also turning to online channels.  A 2014 Frost & Sullivan survey reports that chat, mobile app, social, video, and Web channel usage will increase, while IVR, live agent, and email demand will decline; for good reason – online channels provide immediate, visual, shareable, and easily referenced communications.  They also allow agents to send links, images, clips, and documents inline.

At the same time, more products and services are becoming connected to each other, to customers, and to employees.  Appliances, equipment, furnaces, dimmers, thermostats, machinery, medical devices, earbuds, watches, and vehicles, to name just a few, transmit and receive important information and instructions in real-time over the Internet.  Frost & Sullivan forecasts there will be 50 billion connected devices globally by 2020.

But every new technology creates challenges, and connected devices/IoT is no exception.  On a broader industry level Frost & Sullivan has identified interoperability, adequate bandwidth, and security as difficult but surmountable hurdles to their widespread adoption and use.  Equally critical for IoT success is the Customer Experience with these solutions.  Not only must the connected products work reliably, without dangers like hacking, but they also have to be simple to use, affordable, and easily and effectively supported.

But successfully providing online channels and supporting IoT are not without challenges.  Each application has to connect seamlessly and securely and with associated solutions, such as analytics, CRM systems, knowledge bases, and multichannel routing.  Applications also must be intuitive to use and easy to deploy.  Social support requires carefully crafted responses by highly trained agents who are aware of their responsibilities as brand spokespeople.

Fortunately, many of the solutions on the market meet those requirements.  Additionally, remote support enables online channels to become more effective by enabling agents and customers to interact with each other, while agents are solving problems on their computers, smart devices, and through IoT.  Conferencing and collaboration tools can help resolve very difficult problems by engaging subject matter experts (SMEs).  And companies’ corporate communications staffs can be engaged to help set up social media responses, including agent selection and training and establishing alerting and escalation procedures.

Frost & Sullivan and LogMeIn recently held a well-attended webinar, “The Future of Customer Engagement:  Keeping Pace with the Connected Consumer,” that dove into factors that enable a successful Customer Experience.  Review the recording, and make providing a superior Customer Experience in 2015 your top priority.

         

Managing the Customer Shift to Online Channels

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Customers are taking control of their relationships with companies, and that is having a profound impact on the Customer Experience.  Customers want immediate, thorough, and successful omni-channel customer care.  They use Web self-service, mobile apps, and social media before contacting customer service.  When customers do reach out to companies, they expect agents to know their needs, preferences, and problems from the self-service, and from previous interactions, and to resolve them without escalations or repeated contacts.

Naturally enough, many customers insist on being connected to the “best agents”:  those proficient at solving similar problems, or with whom they had previously interacted, rather than the “next available agents.”  Customers also will go to web sites or on social media while conversing with agents.

At the same time, the smartphone is becoming customers’ preferred interaction device.  Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the number of smartphones shipped in North America will nearly double over the next few years, from 213 million in 2013 to 410 million in 2018.

In this environment customers are turning to online channels.  A 2014 Frost & Sullivan survey reports that chat, mobile app, social, video, and Web channel usage will increase, while IVR, live agent, and email demand will decline; for good reason: online channels provide immediate, visual, shareable, and easily referenced communications.  They also allow agents to send links, images, clips, and documents inline.  When combined with remote support, online channels become more effective by enabling agents and customers to interact with each other while agents are solving technical problems on their computers or smart devices.

It is not outrageous to predict that online and Web-based channels will eventually become the standard means of customer interaction.  The online-savvy, next generation consumer is becoming the mainstream decision-maker.  Meanwhile, voice and video are being supported online through browser-based WebRTC:  which eschews separate traditional telephony and its attendant infrastructure.

But successfully providing online channels is not without challenges.  Each application has to connect seamlessly and securely and with associated solutions, such as analytics, CRM systems, knowledge bases, and multichannel routing.  Applications must also be intuitive to use and easy to deploy.  New solutions like WebRTC are still in their infancy.  WebRTC agents must be carefully selected and trained for online channels, particularly with social channels, as these are public conversations where agents act as spokespeople and have brand responsibility.

A new Frost & Sullivan webinar with LogMeIn, “The Future of Customer Engagement:  Keeping Pace with the Connected Consumer,” on Wednesday Dec.3 at 1pm ET will dive into the factors that enable a successful Customer Experience through online channels.  We invite you to join and also to participate in the session’s interactive Q&A.  The webinar will look at the related issues of supporting connected devices, also known as “the Internet of Things,” the role of demographics and the rise of new channels, and the growing importance of Customer Effort (CE). Please register here to learn from and to take part in this important dialog.

 

         

Connecting Customers to Connected Devices/Internet of Things

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Each day more products and services are becoming connected to each other, to customers, and to employees.  Appliances, equipment, furnaces, dimmers, thermostats, machinery, medical devices, earbuds, watches, and vehicles, to name just a few, transmit and receive important information and instructions in real-time over the Internet.  Frost & Sullivan forecasts there will be 50 billion connected devices globally by 2020.

Driving the popularity of connected devices, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT), are the Customer Experience benefits. Businesses receive operations data, such as when to replenish stock, what kinds, and at which outlets. Consumers can get texts, record their favorite shows, and cut energy costs by turning on the furnace only before they leave work for home. Equipped with this information, B2B and B2C suppliers refine their product development, supply chain, delivery, and marketing strategies.

In turn, business and consumer customers can be alerted to potential problems before these become major and possibly dangerous issues.  For example, sensors can automatically relay individuals’ vital health information to practitioners. As a result, treatment and repairs are likely to be shorter, more successful, safer, and less expensive. Specialists will have a better idea of possible problems, their exact locations, and will be prepared to handle them.

But every new technology creates challenges, and connected devices/IoT is no exception. On a broader industry level Frost & Sullivan has identified interoperability, adequate bandwidth, and security as difficult but surmountable hurdles to their widespread adoption and use.

Equally critical for IoT success is the Customer Experience with these solutions. Not only must the connected products work reliably, without dangers like hacking, but they also have to be simple to use, affordable, and easily and effectively supported.

Appropriately enough, the IoT will be one of the key topics that will be discussed in a Frost & Sullivan webinar with LogMeIn on the “The Future of Customer Engagement:  Keeping Pace with the Connected Consumer” Wednesday Dec.3 at 1 p.m. ET that we invite you to join. The panelists also will look at the role of demographics and the rise of new channels, the growing importance of Customer Effort (CE), and omni-channel (from chat and virtual assistants to mobile and social). Register here to learn from and participate in this important dialog.