It's a simple question with a complex answer: What's the best way to improve the customer experience at your company? An obvious step in the direction is to optimize customer engagement. A recent survey found that "improving the customer experience" was the most common business objective among corporate leaders - but determining how to go about achieving this goal is not nearly so straightforward. As they consider different approaches and solutions, it is very easy for companies to lose sight of what really matters.
To make sure that customer engagement optimization remains the focus, you first need to identify your customer experience priorities. That requires taking a thorough look at the different types of customer interactions which occur throughout the organization.
Technology Is the Means, Not the End
Arguably the biggest misstep that companies make in this area is pursuing technological solutions as if they represent the final goal, rather than a means to an end.
This issue isn't limited to the contact center or customer engagement optimization - it crops up in countless areas. Writing for Forbes, customer experience expert Adrian Swinscoe noted that this kind of approach can lead to misguided thinking in the realms of big data, artificial intelligence and more. "I find myself wondering if we should be wary of getting lost in the technologies and their possibilities and whether we should try and mitigate against this by focusing on what we want our businesses to achieve," he wrote.
Instead, Swinscoe emphasized that companies need to identify their objectives first, and only then move on to choosing and deploying technology tools after those goals.
With that in mind, it's important for decision-makers to look at how their clients are engaging with the company and identify the aspects of the customer experience most in need of improvement.
Addressing this topic, Harvard Business Review recently offered a tiered approach to recognizing customer engagement priorities:
- Customer pain points: The most important goal should be to make every customer interaction as smooth and problem-free as possible. If there are any types of engagement causing user frustration, then the priority must be to find a way - which may or may not involve upgrading to a new technology - to alleviate these issues.
- Advanced customer service: If there are no obvious problems, the next priority is to identify ways of going further - reducing average call wait times below an acceptable threshold, for example.
- Get personal: Once that's been achieved, the next step in customer engagement optimization is adding personalization into the customer experience. Customized advertising based on an in-depth customer analytics solution would be one potential application.
Obviously, reaching that third and final level of customer engagement optimization is a tall task for many organizations, requiring a long and serious commitment to improving the customer experience in just about every possible capacity. Yet that is precisely what companies need to do in order to gain and maintain a competitive customer service advantage, which is itself becoming an increasingly important differentiator.
Technologies such as customer engagement analytics will inevitably play a major role in achieving these goals, but business leaders can only make the right analytics and other IT decisions after they've identified their concrete customer experience improvement priorities.
What steps is your company taking to upgrade the customer experience?