It’s a challenge trying to lead organisations through COVID-19. Homeworking remains a top of mind issue with all the associated technical challenges. Then making necessary compromises on the ‘correct’ working environment as many family members are forced to share the same space. And finally, the looming people management challenges of looking after everyone’s well-being during anxious times. These soak up time and the sheer pace of things can be exhausting. But we also know that we must look ahead if we are going to move beyond this immediate coping phase. If there is any upside to current circumstances it is that habits are broken and reasons to procrastinate have been washed away. This means we can now look at how we meet customer and colleague needs with fresh eyes and momentum.
For me, top of the list are opportunities to rebalance the contact mix. Especially in terms of how to optimise live assistance in relation to self service and proactive communication.
Even though some sectors remain overwhelmed by customer demand while others are now eerily quiet, empathising with customers’ current mindset is vital. People have many reasons to remain anxious.
We are all prone to feeling short tempered while being cooped up at home. No doubt also saddened by the loss of life – especially when known to us. As such we remain much more conscious of our underlying emotive state. In other words, our tolerance is reduced, and we become much more sensitive to how the world engages us. Especially from those we are seeking help from.
This signals that organisations need to use their limited and probably diminished live interaction fire power in the best possible way: primarily for the emotive and complex. To do that we need to get on with removing more of the simple high-volume enquiries from the inbound queue. I’m sharing how to do this in an upcoming webinar on April 23, exploring how AI can help contact centers thrive in uncertain times and beyond. Register here.
How to Reduce Customer Effort with Powerful Self-Service
Reducing effort especially in times of heightened stress is a win-win. Customers have another reason for getting upset removed from their lives and organisations free up their human resources to concentrate on the right interactions.
However, we will go nowhere fast unless we fully focus on making self service good enough to avoid follow up enquiries that consume live assistance. While we live in a time of rich technologies such as cloud services, APIs, AI powered algorithms and intuitive multi modal interfaces, these are just enablers of effective customer and employee experience.
Digital journeys require a design mindset that fully appreciates there is a human being on the other side of screen who does not behave in the simplistic ways we draw up in customer personas. Especially in anxious times when people are more likely to reach out for human reassurance.
Developing effective customer self-service and agent assist solutions requires us to keep a laser focus on what really matters to those users. This means becoming obsessed with the detail of their behaviour.
- When are they likely to vary in their needs and responses?
- What is going to confuse them? Equally, what is going to encourage them?
- When is it better to use images or recorded video to explain or reassure?
- What needs to be signposted as next steps?
- How are needs different between expert and novice users?
The list goes on.
What this says to me is that self service requires a highly determined team of people who recognise the job is never done until customers no longer feel the need to phone or chat when in truth their needs were simple enough to self-serve.
Diverse cross functional groups can be great at working in this way. They know that journey maps, personas and VoC (voice of customer) scores only point to what is really needed. It is up to them to iteratively uncover the full need and solution. Once you have this team mindset in place, the technology can come into its own.
These certainly include functional and low effort outcomes. The missing ingredient has been to recognise that emotive needs are common to every customer and journey even if it is just the momentary sensation of a digital workflow working as hoped.
This is the context in which knowledge management can really thrive. I’ll be discussing this topic in more detail on April 23 during a webinar on how AI can help contact centers right now. Register here.