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Ask the Experts: Predictions for the Future of Customer Experience

           

Digital disruption has already revolutionized industries across the globe, and the customer service industry is no exception. At the current rate, digital is expected to overtake voice in 2018. On April 25, HGS hosted a webinar with HGS VP of Solutions and Capabilities Lauren Kindzierski with special guest John Gibney, Senior Manager of Consumer Service at Newell Brands. Together they shared insights gleaned at a recent CX roundtable, including: tips for getting started on the digital transformation journey, best practices for measuring digital success, and lessons learned from bots and artificial intelligence (AI) integration.

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At the webinar, our poll results shed slight on the state of the industry.

  • Per HGS Poll One, “What are you experiencing in terms of approximate volume of interactions broken down by channel?,” exactly half of our attendees are already favoring digital, with 25% answering “volume is closer to 60% voice, 40% digital,” and 25% stating, “volume is 40% voice, 60% digital.” The other half of our attendees stated, “majority of volume is voice.”
  • According to our second poll, “What do you think? Are robots replacing agents?,” the answer, according to our attendees, seems to lie in a balance, with 82% stating bots are “not replacing but supplementing” optimized CX , and a minority 18% stating “yes, this will happen in the next three to five years.”
  • Poll Three asked, “What level of importance does your company place on providing customers with an omnichannel experience?” Interestingly, 46% answered “somewhat important,” with 31% summarizing omnichannnel as “important or more important than other initiatives.” A strong 15% of attendees say omnichannel is “a top priority,” with 8% stating, “not important.”

Following our webinar, Lauren and John answered some attendee questions, covering the industry’s trend toward optimizing CX and how to get there.

Q1: What’s one thing that stood out from the CX roundtable conversation that surprised you?

John A: Good question. I am going to bend the rules, and I am going to give you two. The first one was the de-emphasis on omnichannel and preference for multichannel. There has been a drastic change in the conversation year over year.  All the conversations were about omnichannel but in the age of consumer experience, the majority of CX professionals are backing off in favor of multichannel so that they can get each channel right.  The questions they always need to ask is, can we meet or exceed consumer expectations? If not, then we need to slow down our growth.

Another message is that good CX shouldn’t forget about people. There shouldn’t be so much focus on technology that we forget to focus on employee development, retention, or involving agents throughout digital transformation. So let’s just keep our eyes on our people because now we know that they are an important part of the digital disruption and the advancement of customer experience.

Q2: Any tips for people that are starting off with AI? What should they be thinking about? Where should they get started?

Lauren A: Again AI is one of those terms that means different things to different people. For example, chatbots is a form of AI, machine learning is a form of AI, Natural Language Processing (NLP) is another form of AI, and there is a technology out there that I have seen that leverages AI that basically will help populate the right response for particular digital engagement so it helps make our agents more efficient. So I think what it really comes down to for tips for getting started is, figure out the business case. Why would you want to go down the AI road? What are you solving for? Do this before you invest resources, money, or time. To me, the business case is really clear. If this technology can help make our agents more efficient, whether it’s populating the right response in a digital form or for an email or social post—-and all the agents need to do is approve or personalize, it could make them that much more efficient. And  that means that there is a chance they might love their job even more. We are making their job easier, and AI is not replacing agents in this case, it is supplementing them. Hopefully that will also take care of attrition.

John A: I agree, and just to reiterate, don’t forget about the foundation that you are building your technology upon. Remember your CRM, your content management, and your reporting suite.

Q3: Did anybody share any really good examples of companies doing chatbots well?

Lauren A: They did actually. This example was given by a gaming company. The Forum attendee said that she mystery shopped her competitor’s website and was trying to stump the chatbot but she couldn’t. She tried everything, including adding gaming terminology and jargon and lingo but that chatbot understood everything that she was asking.

John A: That was a great example. Some of the big banks that were in attendance have invested a lot of money in chatbots. Without even knowing it, the bank that I was using personally, was using a chatbot behind the scenes. The whole time that I thought that I was engaging with a live representative, it was actually a bot.

Q4: What does Newell Brands use analytics for, if at all?

John A: That’s a great question. Newell Brands has transitioned from using data analytics to measure things in a transactional way, emphasizing transactional. We still have SLAs, we still have KPIs. But we have shifted our attention from those traditional operational metrics more to the consumer-facing metrics, so we are looking at effort, NPS, and sentiment. We are doing a lot more monitoring and reporting on that. We have also brought in text analytics. That is a big component of our reporting and analytics suite. We have really shifted the mindset. We now focus on analytics more from the perspectives of the consumer. Again it has to fall within an operational framework. We do have cost expectations, we do have revenue expectations. We don’t say they are off the chart or off the grid, but they are presented as a component of the consumer perspective. That’s one big change that I have seen over the past three to five years from an analytical standpoint.

 

           

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