Leveraging Digital Engagement to Modernize the Customer Experience

Companies have long understood the business value of strong customer service, and recent studies continue to demonstrate that outstanding customer service is correlated to revenue growth. But at a time when the customer experience is changing so rapidly and dramatically, companies often struggle to keep up with shifting consumer expectations and to provide them with the low-friction and straightforward experiences they crave.

Consumers overwhelmingly agree that much remains to be desired when it comes to customer service. Part of the problem is that many companies are slow to deploy the digital technologies, such as video chat and screen sharing, that consumers already expect and have adopted in their day-to-day lives. For industries such as banking or insurance, the real-time context and visual information of these communication channels are critical to effectively solving customer issues. A recent Oracle Communications survey revealed that 75 percent of consumers recognize that these modern engagement tools will enhance their overall experiences.

But with so much recent disruption in how companies interact with their customers, how can businesses boil down the approach they should take to create successful customer service experiences? While there are many fundamentals that are critical to the success of any business, in today's competitive market it boils down to who best understands and can stay one step ahead of customers.

This, of course, is easier said than done, as customer expectations change at a faster pace than ever before, making it increasingly difficult to maintain service initiatives that can win their hearts and minds. The same Oracle survey showed that 77 percent of consumers feel that inefficient customer service experiences detract from their quality of life. Conversely, companies that let consumers connect immediately to relevant associates, interact via digital channels like HD voice, video and/or screen sharing, or enable them to receive contextual, personalized service, experience a 25 percent to 30 percent increase in brand loyalty. The data speaks for itself: Consumers are no longer willing to adjust their preferences to companies that don't understand their expectations for efficient and responsive service across digital channels.

In this new digital era, companies must adapt their business models to ensure that their customer experiences are not only more efficient, but have a strong focus on creating a personal connection to the company. The aforementioned survey also found that blending automated technologies with emerging mechanisms for in-app brand engagements, including video, screen sharing, chat, and other contextual voice communications, will deliver the degree of personal contact that consumers want. With customer choice becoming virtually endless, organizations that can't find this balance risk getting left behind.

Businesses understand the need to adapt, but they must deploy an effective digital strategy quickly to foster and sustain healthy customer relationships. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for successfully engaging with customers, below are five key steps that companies can take to modernize their customer experiences with digital customer engagement that is proactive, seamless, and contextual:

  1. Create branded mobile in-application experiences. Engagement capabilities should be resident within the mobile app or website. Forcing customers to call the contact center is not a desirable customer experience. This should be modernized by allowing customers to engage businesses on mobile, web, and directly from within branded applications that are already installed on their digital devices.
  2. Proactively engage customers at key moments of individual journeys. Hoping that customers take the first step in contacting them is primitive. Companies need to do more to deliver exceptional experiences by following the in-app customer journey context and prompting customers to effortlessly engage at the right time, via a single click or touch, such as during new user registration or for timely support when they are experiencing issues.
  3. Seamlessly connect customers to the right knowledge expert the first time. Customers hate wasting time traversing interactive voice response systems and speaking with the wrong scripted agent. With artificial intelligence and machine learning, customers should be connected to the right expert to handle their calls the first time using business rules and contextual routing. Based on online and mobile activity, companies can use the customer journey context to directly connect customers with the right person using a single tap of a button.
  4. Contextually assist customers to progress the customer journey. Voice calls into the company are completely disconnected from the website or mobile app where most customer journeys begin. Associates should never need to ask security questions if the customer is already logged in on the website or mobile app. Associates should also be better prepared to handle calls by knowing both relevant information about who is calling and the context of the current customer journey. This can only be enabled with modern technology that applies both contextual awareness and machine learning. Associates should also be available to provide human touch assistance and seamlessly shift channels from voice to video, or by incorporating visual and interactive tools, such as screen sharing and live annotation.
  5. Create digital learning across channels by leveraging cloud technology. Keep in mind that on the back end, companies should be able to capture, analyze, and mine for insights across all of their customer channels. All interactions and media types, including voice, video, screen sharing, etc., should be recorded in real time and made available for insights later. This ultimately allows the business to modify customer engagement scenarios and deliver an even better experience moving forward. Cloud makes this integrated channel approach simple. Businesses looking to transition to a more seamless and digital approach must consider cloud as mission-critical for rapid adaptation and agility.

<>The ability to quickly resolve customer issues, drive greater customer loyalty, and increase satisfaction by engaging users on the right channel at the right time will separate winners from losers. Companies are increasingly recognizing that a good product alone is not enough. Don't fall behind. Make modernizing the customer experience with digital engagement your company's top priority and progress each customer journey with proactive, seamless, and contextual experiences.

Brian Kracik is senior director of product marketing for enterprise communications and cloud services at Oracle.