The key to exceptional CX in 2020

OpenMarket – February 13, 2020

It’s well understood that a good customer experience comes down to a simple combination of right message, right time, right place. In other words, make it seamless and deliver it in a way that suits the customer.

The consequences of delivering an experience that doesn’t tick these boxes are significant. More than half of Australian consumers stop spending with a brand they love after only a handful of bad interactions, while 86 per cent will pay more for a great experience.

So, it’s not surprising that customer experience is top of mind for Australian businesses. But while plenty of brands talk the talk, there are few CX champions emerging. Too many experiences with brands are fractured and unsatisfying, ranging from the slightly annoying to the ‘so terrible you immediately delete the app before throwing your phone across the room’.

The beginning of a new decade is a chance to do things differently. To take your CX strategy from just good enough to exceptional, you need to find a balance between empathetic, hands-on support and smart, automated service.

Embracing automation

Every business now has access to a wealth of customer data, and the smart ones are using this data to create unique experiences for every single customer. You might be sick of hearing the word ‘personalisation’ but it’s a buzzword for a reason. When you understand a customer’s needs and challenges, you can address them in a way that’s useful and relevant. When you don’t, you’re more likely to deliver a customer experience that feels impersonal, unhelpful and in the end, a waste of everyone’s time.

By analysing customer interactions with your business, you can automate communication in a way that feels hyper-personalised but is actually conducted at scale. If great CX is about being there for customers at the right time, in the right place, then automation is essential, allowing you to be present whenever they have a challenge or a need.

Using even basic data can make life vastly easier for customers. Say you run a hotel. Why not text customers with their upcoming booking details, allowing them to reply with a single word command for some simple check-in options, like booking a table at the restaurant, selecting a wake-up call the next day or arranging for a car to pick them up from the airport. If they’re returning customers, you can make this even easier by pre-arranging their usual preferences and text them with an option to cancel or reschedule.

Don’t forget a human touch

Automation works best when it’s combined with a sense of human instinct and understanding. 65 per cent of Australians think companies have lost touch with their human side by relying too heavily on technology. It’s important not to adopt tech like AI unless you have the right approach mapped out.

The technology should enhance communication, not just automate it. Consider ways you can use it to be more present for your customers, such as customer support that’s not restricted by the time zone your team operates in. Or add value to their day-to-day life by being smart about frequent purchases and recurring behaviour. If a customer orders a certain product approximately every three months, you can pre-empt this and save them the hassle of the checkout process. A simple message that says, “Almost run out of your favourite perfume? Reply ‘Y’ and we’ll pop a new bottle in the post for you” shows that not only do you understand the customer, but you’re actively trying to help them, even when they haven’t asked for it.

Empathy is essential

The underlying factor in all of this is empathy. To deliver what customers are looking for, you need to understand their pain points, predict what they might need from you and genuinely care about the outcome of their interaction with the brand.

To some degree, this means putting customers in the driving seat. One of the biggest frustrations as a consumer is only having one channel to go through, even if it doesn’t suit you. Like sitting through half an hour of dreaded hold music, when you have a meeting to get to in five minutes and you know you’ll just have to hang up and do it all again later.

Consider this alternative: customers can text HELP and a phone emoji, to have the next available operator call them directly. Or they can text HELP and a message emoji, to receive a short complaint or request form with a promise of a same-day response.

When the customer dictates what works for them, it’s immediately a better experience. And as technologies like AI, chatbots and automation become par for the course, businesses need to make sure they don’t lose sight of the human being on either end of the interaction. To truly achieve exceptional CX, it’s not just about making things simple. It’s about being there for customers when they need you – even if they don’t realise it yet.

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