GISELLE BOU GHANEM, AVAYA'S CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT SOLUTIONS SALES MANAGER FOR THE MIDDLE EAST, TURKEY & AFRICA.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has transformed banking customers— and consumers generally—into fickle buyers. Extensive digitisation has indeed changed the way we live, work, play and bank, but while there is a plethora of positives, it has also given customers significant power.
To see this in action, we do not need to look past the impact a single tweet can have on an organisation’s customer experience (CX) strategy. With the threat of public disdain constantly looming, the simplification of CX becomes critical.
Customers these days are well informed about the market and finding alternatives is easier than ever; whether it’s changing banks or credit cards, all it takes is a few clicks for the customer to ditch your brand for the promise of another. The competitive landscape fosters innovation, but it also makes many customers less loyal.
Today’s customers also expect requests to be instantly fulfilled. Even the notion of sitting on hold is enough to send them screaming, and that comes down to the digital era of convenience, where instant gratification is assumed, and not a privilege.
Customers expect agents to be fully informed about their journeys—no matter if it’s a real person or a bot—in order to customise every communication to the context. This is a challenge in banking, where customers expect both knowledge of their accounts among agents, but at the same time absolute security and privacy.
It’s a difficult line to walk. And that line needs to be replicated; with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), automation and digital adoption, customers expect their experiences to be the same across all channels. Moreover, they expect organisations to provide the ‘human touch’ or assisted service proactively and when needed, rather than forcing them to engage in a specific way.
The banks that fail to provide this level of simplicity and consistency may encounter displeased customers exhausted by linear chat bots. Finally, customers may assume organisations are up to speed with the latest technologies and have developed an appetite for best-of-breed products and services.
With the bar set high by tech-savvy consumers and easy access to technology options, banks are faced with the challenge of combining what they sell with a compelling experience. This evolution in customer behaviours and expectations has led many banks—including some of the world’s most prominent brands—to implement new strategies that will leave a good impression, and these strategies all hinge on making it easier to interact with them.
After all, research from Davies Hickman Partners, conducted for Avaya, found 63 per cent of consumers around the world indicated that convenience is more important than price. The same study, titled SuperServe, indicated that 79 per cent want an immediate response when they contact a large organisation.
So how can you simplify? Based on our discussions with banks around the world, the correct dose of each of the below ingredients is essential for a simple customer experience: Products and services: It all starts with the product and service. Organisations at the forefront of their respective industries have invested in not only pushing out new products, but ensuring those products and services are both customised and easy-to-use.
As a result, they have established a value proposition that aligns to existing expectations and predicts future demands. Those organisations have secured their customers’ loyalty and earned themselves a sustainable customer engagement model.
Back-office and processes: When we engage with organisations to map a CX vision, we often find the backoffice operation is overlooked—almost neglected—as all eyes focus on the customer only. This can be detrimental because back-offices, and the processes that keep them ticking, are key in ensuring simple customer engagements.
Any back-office should be digitallystreamlined and automated. As the digital economy continues to unravel, organisations need to evaluate how they can incorporate robotic process automation to alleviate agents of repetitive and menial tasks, and consequently accelerate handling times. These processes must be coupled with case management to queue efficiently, distribute smartly and report on backoffice service levels.
The agent and supervisor: Another critical component of a simplified CX strategy involves agent and supervisor augmentation, alongside instant access to contextual information. Organisations need to establish a unified workspace in which agents have real-time access to the customer context, including historical information, product knowledge and next-step suggestions.
Once agents are equipped to manage the behaviours of today’s customers, resolutions will occur much faster. The customer journey: How often do you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and test the journey you have designed for them? Is it solving their issues and providing the required support at right time?
There are two fundamental principles that underpin a simple customer journey: The first involves building a journey that drives measurable problem solving and/or business outcomes, and the second involves finding the right balance between automation and assisted services, and intelligently adding a human touchpoint to the journey.
The technology: While this point is assumed—after all, the global economy inherently relies on technology in this era—simplifying CX relies on empowering the technology arm of an organisation to cater to the agile business. We’ve helped many banks and other organisations across the world develop best practises for customer journeys and maximise long-term loyalty.
Although each organisation is at a different stage of its CX transformation, simplicity underpins many of our conversations and we recognise distinct use cases for the above five factors. After all, in the words of the late Steve Jobs, “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.