Our founder and CEO, Dave Dyson, was recently joined by Vijai Shankar, Vice President Product Marketing at Uniphore, and our very own COO, Matt Dickson, to examine the ways that ChatGPT and other powerful AI tools are changing customer experience.
Here are the top takeaways from the webinar (please note, quotes taken from the webinar were edited for brevity and clarity).
Rather hear the whole conversation? You can view the webinar here.
How do customers rate their current customer experiences?
Dave kicked off the webinar by walking us through some eye-opening statistics from the 2023 Forester Customer Experience Index (which surveyed almost 100,000 consumers):
US brands struggled to deliver great customer experiences in 2023, leading Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) scores to drop for an unprecedented second year in a row.
Great customer experiences hit the mark on three key criteria: ease, effectiveness, and emotion.
Drop in 2022, largely lead by decrease in emotional performance, this year average score dropped across the board
Elite brands evoked an average of 29 positive emotions — including feeling happy, valued, and appreciated — for each negative emotion, such as frustration and annoyance.
80% of business leaders list improving CX as a high priority
The number of US enterprise business leaders whose companies are customer-obsessed rose by 3 percentage points to 6%.
Why is there a disconnect between how poorly customers are rating their experiences and the high priority businesses are placing on CX?
Vijai lead us off with these thoughts. “I would say the reasons for this is basically twofold. One is there is an increase in expectation from a consumer standpoint. I think it's really been driven by our experience as consumers with the different brands whether it's Netflix whether it's Amazon…which has been an enabler of driving us into this experience era.
When we are experiencing these positive experiences when we react with brands such as these, we expect the same from the other brands…[unfortunately] the experience there leaves a lot to be desired, but I would say the companies are getting better within cooperation of these technologies.
The second reason I would say a gap exists in the expectations between the consumer and the business is the lack of enterprise context. It’s not just about putting in different technologies and then expecting that to really work for your environment. It's about truly understanding what's going on in your contact center and what's really happening.
Do you have visibility into how you have deployed the systems? Do you have the analytics to clearly understand the systems are working or not? Then using that to optimize what's happening going forward.”
Matt added, “One of the things that Vijai noted is you're competing against these digitally native companies that have thought about how to get that data. That is the key. Getting data throughout their organization to generate insights. The reality is we've gone from multi-channel to omni-channel but now what do customers want? They want proactive, timely and personalized communication.
We must go from a reactive to a proactive approach like we see with Amazon. The best route to call deflection is proactive communication. [Companies] need to understand that but many trying to replicate that experience don't have the systems in place to do it.”
Where do I start?
One of the most pressing questions CX leaders face is where to begin.
Matt started us off with these thoughts. “Where do you start? This conversation has gotten big because it's become overwhelming and there's a lot of noise right now.
Do I have to take the dynamite plunger and blow up my entire environment or is this something where I can start in small bite-sized places that make logical sense that can give me some early wins and then maybe lead to the next thing?
It's really a conversation of what's the road map to getting from where I am today to a worldclass customer experience. This is where people potentially get it wrong. You don't have to do everything at once, but you must think about the entirety of that journey. They're not thinking about it holistically. They're doing the things that are easy as opposed to the things that are most impactful to the customer right now.
It's super easy for us to spin up a chat bot or it's super easy for us to automate a part of our process but those aren't typically the things that are creating those positive emotions that are the foundation to how world class companies create [memorable] customer experiences. Think through it all up front but certainly you can then take it into digestible chunks where what we're seeing is the opposite today. People are looking for the places to get quick wins and not understanding how that feeds into a larger vision.”
Vijai added, “from a Uniphore perspective what we always recommend is let's truly understand what's happening in your enterprise first. What exactly is your key business objective in terms of the business outcomes you're trying to accomplish.
I'm going to hit a couple of different angles. We have had customers who say they would really want to solve initially on the agent-assist side because that's one area which has really been neglected. We have had customers solve a simple use case using AI to automate agent after call work…which is already available with AI and can really help improve the efficiencies and accuracy which in turn drives much better agent performance.
On the self-service side it's about truly understanding what you want to automate and how much more automation you need to lower costs.
[The way] we are thinking about it is really partnering with companies and customers to help build the ideal AI blueprint and that starts with understanding what's happening within the environment and then building the better road map from there based on what the company's business outcomes are."
What are some other novel ways to use AI to enhance customer experience?
Matt mentioned, “Tracking commitments that were made [by agents] there's nothing more frustrating than an agent saying hey I'm going to send you a coupon and then it doesn't happen so that's another powerful use for generative AI is creating and tracking those commitments.
The good news here is we talked about starting small. [Step one] may be just tracking those commitments [and] telling the agent don't forget you said you were going to do ABC and XYZ the next step of that is open[ing] up the systems that start to do that automatically.”
Vijai added, “Agent assist is a huge area for additional transformation. Normally…whenever there is transformation in the contact center it's always happened on the self-service side. Let's increase self-service rates, let's lower the cost of customer service and so forth. The area which has been obviously neglected is agent-assist.
Companies can really leverage the power of generative AI or conversational AI to help transform agent experience because it's not only going to help with a much better customer experience but it's also going to help with lowering the onboarding time.
Let's start with the simple thing. How do we build the information agents need at their fingertips to help solve customer queries?
With the correct combination of generative Ai and knowledge AI what's easily possible is really using structured and unstructured data and providing answer automatic answer generation for those FAQs at the right time so now when a customer calls in the agent can get the most relevant information right at their fingertips to help drive a much better customer experience.”
What are the things that should now be considered table stakes in CX?
Matt led off with this thought, “convenience is one of the strongest indicators of a customer’s willingness to pay more. 70% of respondents indicate they'd pay more if they knew they'd have a convenient experience, so we must put convenience at the center of much of what we're doing so what does that mean?
We already talked about some of it. Agents [spending less time] searching for information. Empowered agents that can take action in real-time….there's so much control command and control around contact centers. We can't let agents do things because they might make mistakes. When you put better systems in place, you're going to free them to have more latitude and authority to do those things.
The other thing I would say as well is self-service. This is a have-to-have option. Amazon did an interesting survey where 74% of respondents are likely to spend more with brands that avoid let them avoid contacting a live agent and there's strong use cases where they have preference. For example, to check order status there is a 3x preference to use an automated tool over talking to a person but there's but there is still strong use cases where they want to talk to a person like reporting identity theft or fraud.
The reality is we must let people choose their own adventure. It’s no longer good enough to say here's the way you do something we have to offer them an array of ways to accomplish a task and to take that into account. That's why customer journey mapping is the foundation for all of this.
You need to identify pain points in that journey but more importantly you need to be identifying places where you're forcing people to interact in a way they prefer not to. Those are the things that create negative emotions so I would say convenience is at the center and is now [considered] table stakes and offering a buffet of ways to do things I think is also becoming table stakes as well."
Vijai shared his thoughts, “Having the basic ability to understand who your customer is and why they are calling. What is their intent and what is their emotion and then guiding your agents accordingly. I think that's basic table stakes.
Having the ability to understand and provide the analytics is also table stakes because if you don't know what's happening in your contact center how are you going to optimize it for the future?
Are you just going to go and analyze what your business analysts have said we need to go analyze….or are you going to analyze 100% of your calls and get unsupervised learning of topics which are coming up in your contact center?
I think that's important because that can be the proactive analytics and the actionable insights what you can get to optimize your contact center in real time.
I would say the third thing which should become table stakes is [AI generated] after call summar[ization]. Automating that can realize immediate business results whether it's lowering the average handle time or whether it's improving accuracies and other efficiency metrics that contact centers measure.”
There is lots more to hear including answers to interesting questions such as:
How do you create emotion and empathy in digital interactions?
What causes 96% of customers to be disloyal to your brand when you don’t do it correctly and how do you address it?
How do I protect my brand’s reputation when using generative AI tools?
You can view the webinar here to continue to go behind the mask and find out if you are in line for a trick or treat?
If you are ready to find out how Eclipse can help you build better customer experiences, you can contact us here.