Over the last five years, digital transformation has had a dramatic effect on the way all businesses communicate with consumers. And now, the focus is shifting to customer experience.
According to Forrester, 72 percent of today’s businesses say that improving customer experience is a top priority. Similarly, research by Walker predicts that by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the main differentiator between companies. Businesses and service-oriented industries, such as healthcare and banking, now face a new reality where customers (and patients) are willing to take their business elsewhere if they have even one unfavorable experience.
However, there is a silver lining: the same technology that caused a shift in consumer expectations now offers organizations an opportunity to raise their engagement to the next level in order to increase customer (or patient) retention and satisfaction.
Unified communications (UC) technology in particular holds this power by enabling a few key strategies: automated self-service, real-time tone analysis and seamless transitions between communication types.
Automate Self-service through Chatbot Technology
Because today’s consumers are often on-the-go, self-service options are becoming a preferred method of communication with an organization. According to a 2015 report by Aspect Software, for example, 73 percent of consumers preferred solving product or service issues on their own.
Chatbot technology using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the initial — or in some cases, entire — interaction can greatly enhance an organization’s customer engagement. Because chatbots can handle the majority of simple inquiries, they enable a resource such as a bank teller, nurse or company help desk to handle live communications only when necessary — freeing up internal resources.
Consumer preference is clearly shifting to quick, digital conversations that spend the least amount of time solving an issue, and chatbots offer a great way to do that in a variety of industries. In 2018, Gartner predicted that over the next couple of years AI will be a mainstream customer experience, with 47 percent of organizations using chatbots for customer care.
This goes hand-in-hand with another key strategy that chatbots enable — extended hours of service.
Because UC solutions are helping organizations meet the demand for extended hours of service, along with the new preferences for digital self-service, they’re proving a vital asset in the customer experience focus.
For instance, American Express’ 2017 Customer Service Barometer reported that more than six out of 10 consumers named a digital self-service tool, such as a website, mobile app, voice response system or online chat as their go-to channel for simple inquiries.
Businesses using a UC solution in their call centers can front-end service-related inquiries on the website — using AI to offer support beyond traditional business hours. By combining AI chatbot technology with live agents when more complicated requests occur, organizations are empowered to meet the increasing consumer demand for 24/7 service.
Real-time Tone Analysis to Guide Conversations
Similar to the way artificial intelligence creates a smoother customer experience for simple inquiries, new chatbot solutions can use real-time tone analysis to improve on-the-phone interactions with live agents such as bank tellers or nurses answering a triage line.
This technology provides better guidance throughout the interaction by allowing the agent to be more aware of inflections in a caller’s voice that might prompt a different course of interaction during the call. With this type of UC technology, the bank teller or nurse can view data in real-time to gauge indicators related to joy, anger, agreeableness or openness — improving the overall experience for customers and patients as the agents pivot accordingly in their approach.
Seamless Transitions Between Media Modes
Smartphones have fundamentally changed the way that consumers engage with organizations. As a result, the need to be able to transition seamlessly between customer service channels has never been greater.
Pedowitz Group found that 90 percent of customers expect consistent interactions across all channels, making it crucial for businesses to ensure that service transitions between different channels are seamless and easy for their customers.
In today’s digital world, unified communications solutions can help businesses across all industries stay on top of the latest in customer experience and ensure that it meets the ever-growing expectations of today’s consumers.