Digital and Social Sensing
Learn how you can listen to customers across channels in real-time and deliver superior customer experience using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
What is customer experience and how did it start gaining importance?
Customer experience is often used as an all-encompassing term. It represents how customers perceive their interactions and experience with an organization.
Customer experience can no longer be an afterthought and must be placed at the core of an organization’s transformation strategy. To deliver a superior customer experience and smoothly execute business strategies, organizations must look at various aspects, including the mindset of their customers, operational structure, and technological requirements. From phone and email, to social media platforms, live chat, and messaging applications, modern customers engage with an organization at their convenience. They expect service interactions to be consistent and continuous across all channels—even if they switch channels mid-journey, or start, stop, and restart a request.
While it may sound challenging to exceed the expectations of modern customers, there are more ways than ever to capture their information and build a healthy, strong, and long-lasting relationship with them.
With the availability of various customer engagement channels, it all boils down to offering a great customer experience. This can be achieved when an organization has the right tools to drive contextual interactions with the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, and using existing customer information.
In the past, customers interacted with organizations through offline touchpoints and engagement channels, such as branch visits, phone calls, etc. Since then, customer experience has gone through four broad waves of transformation.
- First Wave – Customer experience emerged as an add-on to customer relationship management systems that provided the ability to automate content capture across various interaction channels and touchpoints
- Second Wave – Customer experience platform emerged and integrated with various customer engagement channels, business systems, and IT systems, to provide a centralized view of all the interactions, activities, tasks, and communications pertaining to a customer
- Third Wave – Orchestration capabilities were introduced, allowing organizations to provide superior experiences and quicker resolutions
- Fourth Wave – New-age technologies came into the picture—including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), digital and social sensing, enabling multi-channel superior customer experience
The role of artificial intelligence in customer experience
Forward-thinking organizations are leveraging the power of AI to automatically understand the intentions and concerns of customers, smoothly resolve complaints, and conveniently answer queries across various engagement channels. Furthermore, other cutting-edge technologies, including digital and social sensing help in strengthening an organization’s relationship with its customers by automating customer engagements across all digital channels. The tool also identifies topics and routes e-communications to relevant departments across an organization.
This list highlights new capabilities that modern enterprises are leveraging while using AI-enabled customer experience software:
- AI-driven intelligence, natural language processing, classification, and orchestration capabilities, to determine customers’ intent and sentiments, followed by their likes and dislikes
- Integration with chatbots, social media, messengers, etc. to provide more channels for customers to connect with the organization digitally without having to visit branches
- Integration with new-age technologies, such as robotic process automation to mimic human actions and automate dull, boring, and repetitive tasks, while freeing knowledge workers to take on more exciting work
- Multi-lingual capabilities to interact with customers in their preferred language and ensure compliance
- Actionable data analytics to figure out what, why, and how of cases and events, make processes faster, empower knowledge workers, uncover opportunities and capitalize on them
The benefits of delivering a superior customer experience for organizations
Delivering an unparalleled customer experience is not a requirement, but rather a sustainable competitive differentiation. Organizations that succeed in delivering a ‘wow’ experience to customers enjoy various business benefits, including:
- Improved customer retention and loyalty
- Reduced churn rate
- Shorter customer purchase cycles
- Distinguished brand identity
- Minimized operational costs
Areas where customer experience plays an imperative role
Customer experience officers and business managers must strategically achieve their internal as well as external business goals. They can break down their goals into customer-facing interactions and operational activities. Today, all organizations must have an intrinsic strategic approach, geared towards customer experience, and especially the ones that:
- Interact frequently with customers across various touchpoints, including small to medium-sized businesses, banks and financial institutions, insurance companies, healthcare firms, and more
- Aim to minimize their day-to-day operational costs, expand their presence across multiple regions, time zones, and geographies, and communicate with customers in different languages
- Wish to expedite their sales and service cycles
Once the directional indicators are taken care of, managers should also focus on departmental-level activities and business goals and channelize their efforts in empowering users across various departments, from sales to customer service:
- Sales: Identifies leads and engages with them periodically to maximize sales opportunities. Users are involved in answering pre-sales questions, personalizing interactions, scheduling sales appointments, and other activities related to the customer journey
- Customer Service: Resolves customer complaints, caters to incoming requests, answers queries, and much more
Key indicators for an organization to make customer experience a priority
Business managers should consider some key performance indicators (KPIs), pointing towards “dissatisfaction” of customers, to avoid being adversely impacted in the long run. Given here are some of the KPIs, which on deeper analysis, can help managers uncover the signs of prioritizing customer experience:
- Dissatisfied customers – High turnaround time and service level agreement (SLA) breaches
- Increased escalations by customers via different social media channels – Low customer satisfaction and net promoter scores, repeat tickets, and a high reopened ticket count
- Agents occupied with addressing repeat and mundane queries – Pareto analysis*; identifying major issue buckets for automation and freeing agents to perform constructive tasks
- Customers expecting to avail services anytime, anywhere – Customer surveys, competitor offerings, and brand/organization USPs
- Difficulty maintaining uninterrupted customer interactions while switching channels – Missed communications and multiple parallel tickets from the same customer
Pareto analysis*; identifying major issue buckets for automation and freeing agents to perform constructive tasks
How organizations can offer a superior customer experience while leveraging digital and social sensing?
Easier said than done, delivering a superior customer experience is not a cakewalk. In the absence of the right strategy, several attempts can turn futile and add to the woes of an organization. Therefore, modern organizations must make careful choices to offer delightful experiences to customers. They can harness a new-age technology—digital and social sensing to decipher their customers’ interactions across various engagement channels and respond to them in real-time. Furthermore, they must:
Be channel agnostic and pervasive across all touchpoints
Connecting with customers via conventional channels is not enough. Organizations must do their due diligence and ensure uninterrupted interactions across all customer-preferred touchpoints, including email, social media, chats, websites, and SMS.
Make engagements actionable as digital and social sensing:
- Plugs the gap and provides intelligent processing capabilities to workflows and processes
- Helps in determining what each customer is talking about, what the customer’s expected action is, which recommended resolution mechanisms are available, and which mechanism to choose
- Integrates with all the required applications and systems to seamlessly pull and push data. The systems include:
- Archival system to store and track all customer engagements for future reference and to ensure compliance with regulatory mandates
- Workflow systems for end-to-end/straight-through processing for customer journey-oriented workflows
- CRM and other core systems to centralize the tracking of communications and monitor activity history
- Monitoring systems to track and improve service level agreements and KPIs
Evaluating technologies to deliver an enhanced customer experience
Business leaders must weigh their options carefully while evaluating an ideal technological solution. Based on each business leader’s perspective, there are specific criteria to consider in order to make the right selection.
Strategic/business point of view:
- Does it have all the functionalities of modern digital transformation technologies, including AI, ML, and NLP?
- Does it align with the objectives of an organization’s customer experience strategy?
- Does it allow businesses to interact with customers at every touchpoint throughout the customer journey?
- Does it allow an organization to improve the customer communication experience and delight customers?
- Does it guarantee data security to ensure compliance and maintain customers’ trust?
- Does it allow an organization to enable digital transformation while optimizing costs and mitigating risks?
- Does it provide a good return while reducing the total cost of ownership? And how rapidly can it be deployed?
- Is the vendor capable of offering deep integration and customization experience?
- Does it provide actionable analytics to drive the maximum impact on an organization’s bottom line?
From IT perspective:
- Does it support custom AI models?
- Does it offer orchestration capabilities?
- Does it offer language-agnostic and/or multi-lingual capabilities?
- Does it support communication tracking and archival?
- Does the AI model support retraining on the customer dataset?
- Does it promise high levels of classification analytics accuracy?
- Does it provide REST/SOAP APIs for integration with third-party systems?
- Does it require a huge dataset as a prerequisite for deployment?
- Does it have a connected database that integrates data from all the connected channels and applications to streamline workflows and allow for smarter decision-making?
- Does it support complex rules, based on the customer’s profile data?
- Does it integrate with an organization’s existing systems, including CRM, supplier relationship management, learning management systems, and other core systems?
From customer service/departmental perspective:
- Does it integrate with customer engagement channels, including email, social media, web, chat, etc.?
- Does it allow customers to communicate with an organization via their preferred touchpoints?
- Does it offer a friendly UI/UX experience that helps track customer communications from a central point and offers a consistent experience to customers?
- Does it offer support for intelligent automation to shift agents’ bandwidth from low-value, non-customer facing tasks to more complex, constructive tasks?
Business managers must consider the above checklist to select an ideal technology and engage with customers in an instant, personalized, and consistent manner.