Ryan Lester, Director of Customer Engagement Technologies at Bold360ai by LogMeIn, outlined how to determine and improve your company’s evolutionary position in customer engagement.
“Customers are raising the bar in terms of how they want to engage with the brands they do business with,” stated Lester at the outset of his thought leadership presentation at the 2018 Customer Experience Leadership Forum held on April 17 in Chicago. “The customer expectation is that everything’s immediate, well-informed, and personalized to them. All of us must deal with customers who have a problem and want it solved now.”
Lester’s company did research to find out what the best companies are doing to meet this ever-evolving challenge and discovered a customer-engagement continuum comprising four phases:
- Engagement experimenters. “For these companies, customer engagement isn’t core to the business.”
- Engagement evolutionists. “These companies want to make customer experience a priority and are making efforts to scale up to do that. This is the test-and-learn phase.”
- Engagement enthusiasts. “These are companies that want to make customer engagement priority-one and differentiate through it.”
- Engagement experts. “These companies have differentiated through customer experience. It’s in their DNA.”
“The customer-engagement continuum comprises four phases: engagement experimenters, engagement evolutionists, engagement enthusiasts, and engagement experts.”
“These phases serve as mile markers for where your company is in terms of engagement. There are key indicators in this population of what makes a company an evolutionist versus an expert,” explained Lester.
“We surveyed 468 companies globally in a variety of industries and a variety of sizes across four key factors: strategy, process, people, and technology. There are different aspects of how these are used in customer engagement. For example,” said Lester, “Southwest Airlines emphasizes customer experience, and it implements this through process and technology. The technology is standardizing on one plane, the Boeing 737, and the process is not offering first-class or seat assignments and checking bags for free. The optimization is getting people on and off the plane more quickly to reduce the price. Jet Blue, on the other hand, offers travelers a personal screen at their seat [technology] and more individualized attention [process].”
Lester continued, “It’s possible to be mature in one of the four aspects and immature in another. Among the companies we surveyed, the smallest group were the experts, and the largest group was the evolutionists followed closely by the enthusiasts. Without looking at the situation holistically, it’s difficult to move from enthusiast to expert,” he noted.
“It’s possible to be mature in one of the four aspects and immature in another. Among the companies we surveyed, the smallest group were the experts, and the largest group was the evolutionists followed closely by the enthusiasts.”
“The companies that were experts had a much higher rating among customers in overall lifetime value. They acquired customers, and those customers were happy and stayed with them. They had 30% to 40% higher NPS scores than their peers. These companies also had almost twice the agent satisfaction as did experimenters,” he said.
“Forrester did research on what it means to increase your customer satisfaction (CSAT) score by just one point from a dollar-and-cents perspective. For one bank, increasing the CSAT by one point translated to a $30 million lift on the top line. For other industries as well, this means double- and triple-digit increases in revenue. There’s money to be made in delivering better customer experience and support,” he emphasized.
However, although over 70% of the companies Lester’s group surveyed understood the importance of digital engagement, less than 30% had shifted their strategy to focus on it. “One big difference between the experts and everyone else was creating a great experience across all channels. Among the experts, 94% had an integrated, digital-channel experience, which means unifying web chat, social medial, and email by delivering a similar or better-quality experience across all those channels.”
“One big difference between the experts and everyone else was creating a great experience across all channels.”
Lester concluded by offering three recommendations for becoming an expert in customer experience. “First, choose how and where you want to engage, and be deliberate in how you do it. Customers want to feel heard in whatever channel you’ve given them to engage with. Second, spend time on where the friction points are for your customers, and address them with technology. Third, personalize your engagement. Use interaction data as well as historical data to personalize the experience and reduce friction for your customers. Make sure this data is served up to agents at the time of the interaction. Our research found that 77% of experts used interaction data to personalize service compared to 5% of experimenters.”
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