The Connected Customer Experience: Leveraging Data to Drive Hyper-Personalized Experiences and Build Trust

To say we’re living in a customer-centric age is an understatement: companies who fail to prioritize the customer experience are outpaced by their CX-leading competitors by nearly 80%. Additionally, more than half of companies have experienced a serious drop in consumer trust, resulting in an estimated missed $180 billion in potential revenues, according to this Accenture study. There are numerous reasons consumers lose trust in brands they once knew, loved, and purchased from frequently, but 71% of consumers say poor customer service contributes to that trust erosion.

Unfortunately, many tactics that once served an organization well in engendering a customer-first culture simply fail to keep up with the enormous increase in both customer data, and use of connected devices. Two and a half quintillion bytes of data are created each day at current pace, and Gartner predicts there will be more than six connected devices per person as early as 2020. This device proliferation and increase in data results in an overwhelming number of touchpoints that must be tracked and connected to the customer’s buying journey. It’s a tall order, but the organizations who will win are those who can use all of this data to scale the customer experience quickly, efficiently, and effectively, and all on the customer’s terms. It’s not just enough to collect data: it needs to be the right data that can be acted on in the moment.

Working with the customer where they’re comfortable

The digital age has changed where, when, and how customers interact with a brand. What was once a simple cycle of seeing an ad, making a purchase, and repeating, has shifted into a looping journey with the potential for numerous friction points that can turn a customer away from a brand all too quickly. McKinsey describes this journey through four critical areas: consideration, evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase experience. Instead of assuming a consumer will immediately be faithful to the previous brand purchased, McKinsey states that today’s buyer continues to consider new brands available to them. McKinsey adds the element of the Loyalty Loop, which fast tracks future purchases, but in order for a brand to effectively qualify for this shortcut, they must have fostered lasting loyalty with the customer. And 95% of consumers say customer service is important in their choice of brand loyalty. In other words, helping a customer find the answer they need quickly is a significant indicator of whether or not a brand has continued ownership of that customer’s wallet share.

An additional complication is the increase in possible touchpoint locations: digital searches, email, social media, website, and more. In fact, 31% of millennial customers looking for help reach out to a company via Twitter. It’s important for an organization to connect all relevant touchpoints to a unified customer profile in the event of a customer service interaction, or they run the risk of further fracturing the experience and the relationship.

Brands must be willing to look critically at their existing systems to evaluate if they’re truly prepared to handle the significant amounts of data, devices, touchpoints, and the unified view necessary to provide a seamless customer experience. Tools driven by AI and machine learning are the only way to ensure a business can scale to keep pace.

The expectations for customer agents have never been higher; below are ways that AI magnifies data to bolster a support team so they can create optimal customer experiences.

Automate processes and tasks

KPMG has estimated that the service cost reduction with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is as great as 75%. With the average cost of service centers continuing to rise — voice is $12 per contact, and live chat is $5 per contact — shifting resources to self-service through automation and a knowledge base can result in huge savings. Automation tools can decrease costs to just 10¢ per contact.

It isn’t simply the dollars and cents saved, however, that make automation so impactful to an organization. In one use case, automation can vastly improve worldwide organizations needing to route certain language speakers to agents who can communicate in that language. Additionally, by routing common questions and needs to a self-service portal or base that can both quickly and effectively solve a customer’s problems, agents are freed up to more quickly take on the more complex, nuanced issues that customers face.

While skeptics might be concerned about customers valuing human interaction above all else, according to this report from Statista, 88% of US consumers expect an online self-service portal. In fact, bringing numerous types of customer data touchpoints into one place — and from any resource — creates a more seamless, personalized experience for that customer. This method allows for both speed and a personalized approach to be achieved, and on the customer’s terms.

Augment existing agent support

When a customer dials into a service call center, provides significant information regarding who they are and why they’re calling, and is then directed to an agent for further assistance, the worst possible scenario is that customer then having to repeat all of that information…again. When considering a customer may have also reached out through email and even social media, it becomes even more crucial to use data in the right way. Much like being retargeted by an ad for a product you purchased yesterday, today’s customers are smart and expect organizations to be intelligent with their data. If, after interacting with a chatbot and providing all relevant data, a customer’s issue is escalated to a human agent, the customer expects an agent to already have the necessary context to properly manage the issue. That context should include relevant information like shipping number, previous conversations from both online and offline sources, and previous purchases made, combined into a unified customer profile.

Not only does the full customer data view aid with escalating issues directly, it can even be used to provide recommendations to the agents before even interacting with the customer. Through AI technology, an agent can be given an automated recommendation for how to best handle the customer’s request, eliminating both time and mismanagement; thereby improving the quality, time, and ease of service for both the customer and the agent.

When AI is used to capture data for context, the technology and the human agent become critical partners in providing the right customer experience. It empowers an agent to be a true specialist, who can change the customer’s outcome in a way automation cannot. The marriage between the two is what elevates the customer experience to a level that promotes long-term loyalty.

Proactively boost future outcomes

As a part of the new expectations customers have for service-related interactions, customers expect their preferred brands to be proactive in handling potential issues. For an organization this can be as simple as customer communication that informs of impending weather that will impact a shipment, or as sophisticated as predicting volume needed quarters in advance based on real-time interactions. In order to accomplish this, however, all relevant data must be gathered in a location where it can be acted upon quickly.

One use case could even enable leads and managers to get ahead of issues in-the-moment. For example, as a call is happening, the voices can be translated into text, then analyzed and graded in real time to measure key indicators that identify a call going south. Instead of arbitrarily choosing which calls to QA, or to QA all calls after-the-fact (and risk missing the ones requiring assistance), AI and machine learning can alert a team lead exactly when to jump in and improve the customer interaction as it occurs.

Antiquated technology looks reactively at improvement; the best customer experience requires proactive use of data as the touchpoint interaction occurs, rolling it into the most personalized experience possible.

Customers who have a good experience are three and a half times more likely to repurchase, and five times more likely to recommend to friends and relatives than those customers who have a poor experience. And 59% of respondents to the Microsoft State of global customer service report say that customer service expectations are higher than they were last year. In order for an organization to scale to meet the growing demand, they must provide a seamless omnichannel experience that connects all touchpoints, automates tasks and processes for maximum efficiency, and proactively uses real-time customer data to further create the best experience. Doing so will empower your agents, and build the trust your customers need to remain loyal for years to come.

Connecting all the data to relevant touchpoints and driving a hyper-personalized experience will change how your customers experience you and your product. Tune into our webinar with guest speaker from Forrester where we break down how you can create an elevated customer experience.

 

5 Things You Can Start Doing to Go From Reactive to Proactive Support

In our CEO and Co-Founder Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece for Forbes, he dives deep into the theory and practice of proactive service.

How can you prepare your service organization to anticipate your customers’ desires in order to deliver an experience that defies their expectation? We’ve outlined some steps you can start taking to upgrade your experience and delight your customers with forward-thinking support.

  1. Train Your Team: Proactive service isn’t just about analytics, it requires an equal amount of human insight. Before investing in tech, make sure you have a team of engaged agents that are already thinking about your customers’ needs. For example, Outdoor Voices’ agents are able to collaborate more easily because of comprehensive training, amplified by Kustomer’s intuitive interface. Great service starts with great people.
  2. Invest in Analytics: By combining human insight with powerful analytics, reporting, and a record of every customer’s history, you can equip your team with everything they need to know about your stakeholders. Just ask Glossier, who works with Kustomer and Looker to get rich insights into customer behavior. If you don’t have all the data in a single customer view, it’s almost impossible to be proactive.
  3. Have a Secure Data Warehouse: Beyond having all the necessary data at your fingertips, that data needs to be in one safe, central location or network of locations. This can be a system you’ve created in-house, or a third-party CRM—the important thing is security and usability. Read more about our commitment to security here.
  4. Make Searching Easy: When you have all of your customer information in one system, across all of your platforms and integrations, you can create the kind of granular searches for customers that account for their specific behaviors or needs. Once you’re able to identify customers by their last order, their location, their sentiment, and more, surprising and delighting them is a snap. For example, Slice uses Kustomer to segment their users, then automates workflows to deliver more efficient service.
  5. Track the Right Metrics: You need a way to capture how your customers are feeling. That requires a combination of several things. You should be measuring sentiment within customer communications and on social, using surveys that capture metrics like CSAT, NPS, and CES, and tracking behavior across every channel of interaction. For a brand like LOLA, having all the relevant information at agents’ fingertips when customers have a question about their subscriptions is crucial to great service.

To be smart, personal, proactive, and timely requires a lot of moving parts to come together, but doing so is the hallmark of a standout customer experience. Once you’re gathering and storing all of the relevant customer information, you can act on it with a combination of well-trained employees and specific features within your software platform. Once you can connect with individual customers over their preferred channel with the right personalized message, your experience can become a true revenue driver and differentiator for your organization.

Getting there isn’t as simple as completing a checklist—it’s a complex process, unique to every business. However, when all of these threads come together, your customers will see and feel the difference in every interaction.

Get more advice on delivering proactive service from Brad’s piece in Forbes.

How to Scale Your Support Team

Growing your business is hard enough—but growing your service organization alongside it comes with its own challenges. More agents customers mean more complexity. To help make sense of your growing CX team, we’ve listed some common stumbling blocks and some intuitive solutions to get around them.

Agent Collision

Tickets coming in from multiple channels makes it hard to separate out who owns what. When a customer gets annoyed with wait times, they will often start reaching out over several different channels with the same problem. Agents working in these different channels then have no way of seeing that it’s the same person, and the customer ends up getting a response from more than one team member on chat, email, and wherever else they reach out.

The solution to this problem sounds easy, but is a huge shift in service philosophy. Give your agents ownership over the customer relationship, so that they are responsible for satisfying individual customers over many channels, instead of all the customers in one channel. By making your service omnichannel, agents are aware of every conversation happening with each customer.

Disconnected Data, Disconnected Systems

As your business expands, so too do the places and ways you store customer data. If you don’t rein these in, then agents end up wasting time switching between applications and hunting for information in back-end systems.

If agents have to go into multiple systems—ordering, shipping, customer information, and more—to see all the information about the customer, then copy that information and paste it into another screen, their workflow grinds to a halt.

To overcome this obstacle you need to be able to have all of your data in one place, with systems that integrate with one another, and a way to turn that insight into action. When agents don’t have to spend time hunting in separate systems for information they need, that makes everything in your service organization easier to scale—because your agents are more efficient and productive than ever before. Just the ten seconds agents save from not having to switch applications can translate to days of work saved in one month alone.

From Reactive to Proactive Service

When you scale your business, you do everything you can to keep up with your customers. However, all the effort it takes to simply respond to and stay on top of their queries leaves no time for any forward-thinking, proactive engagement.

You soon won’t have the luxury to pick up the phone and call every customer who gave you a low CSAT score. You need to be prepared to deliver that same level of 1-1 service, but on a much greater scale.

Automation is going to go a long way towards freeing up your agents’ time. Anything you can do to learn more about your customers and their needs before they’re transferred to an agent is going to massively increase your efficiency. Chatbots that ask a few simple questions about the issue a customer is having can simplify the experience for customer and agent alike. Smart segmentation that makes it easier to determine the right actions based on informed personas will save even more time and effort. Proactive outreach can inform an agent to send an email, or even automatically send an SMS, if an item is going to be delayed, giving customers options for how to proceed.

Team Reporting and Monitoring

As your team grows, so too does your need for detailed reports and insights. However, these reports are often in separate products for different channels, forcing you to spend a prohibitive amount of time creating and combining separate customer reports. To make matters worse, these reports are often delayed by hours or even days, meaning you can’t really see what your team is doing in real time. Many businesses that are scaling quickly also tend to start using more remote agents and teams to work faster. You are going to need a way to effectively monitor them in order to provide proper coaching.

The answer to your reporting problems is to be able to query, segment, and display reports through custom dashboards in real time. If your current solution doesn’t have these features built-in, they aren’t going to spring up overnight. And without proper reporting, you won’t be able to fully understand what’s happening in your growing team.

It can be difficult to successfully scale your support team—we know. Without a modern platform for customer experience, it might feel nearly impossible. Learn more about how Kustomer can help you avoid the common pitfalls of efficiently scaling your team here.

Magento Technology Partnership: Integration Enables Actionable Service

You get the most out of Kustomer once you’ve connected all of your customer information and data. As an official technology partner, our Magento integration allows you to personalize your support based on your Magento customer profiles, including your customers’ online behavior, their purchases, and their return history.

Now your support team can see all the purchases made by every customer, set up searches based on Magento information, provide proactive service using workflows, and more. For example, you can create a search for customers with Magento orders worth more than $200 who have made a purchase more than once a month, then assign them to a higher-tiered support level and send a bulk message with a coupon thanking them for their loyalty.

Integrations should be more than delayed, view-only glimpses. As part of this integration, we’ve added a real-time shopping cart card, which lets you easily see the contents of your customers’ shopping carts while you provide support. Your team will have all the necessary information to quickly resolve your customers’ issues, decreasing shopping cart abandonment.

Our integration will sync standard objects out of the box such as customers, orders, and more. You can also easily send your own custom events (like items in cart) and have them populated as custom objects. As with all custom objects, you can create reports to gain deeper insight into how your shopping is connected to customer support and service.

To set-up the integration, have an admin follow our instructions.

Know Everything About Every Customer

I am unique. You are unique. We differ in many ways, including how we behave, shop, engage, talk, and react.

We are also creatures of habit and prefer to leverage a trusted vendor who has provided us with a consistent, good experience. For example, most people have a favorite local barista at the cofee shop we buy our large coffee from on the way to work. When we have consistent, good experiences, we return to the same trusted vendors or brands that serve our diverse daily needs like clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, housing items, pet food, travel and food.

These businesses also have an identity of their own, a unique approach and well defined processes for treating and serving special customers like me and you. However, there is often a disconnect between businesses’ approach to the customer experience and customer expectations.

The chasm between the needs of today’s customers and what experience brands truly provide, is referred to as the CX Expectations Gap. Meeting these needs requires a lot of work: time, money, effort, and resources.

There are places and companies who have been successful at addressing specific expectation and personalization needs. They are usually local vendors who have intimate knowledge and recurring facetime with their customer base. You interact with these local vendors every day, from your regular bar’s bartender, local diner manager, barista at the coffee shop on your way to work, or my local fruit vendor. They are all different in many ways but have one critical aspect in common. A process that helps them know everything about every customer.

My local fruit vendor works hard. He recognizes me and knows my preferences. If there are great, slightly green bananas and it’s Monday he knows to save me these as I pick up fruit on way back from work. When he gets an order of figs (one of my favorites) and sees me exit the subway, he lets me know. He knows I like the extra hard cucumbers and the plums my kids make me buy everytime they come with me to buy fruit.He offers these as upsell and perhaps caters to people like me with a special offer.

He knows there is another vendor three blocks away, so after a bad experience with sour, bad grapes, he immediately refunded me and offered fresh grapes. And he now knows that everyone who bought these batches of grapes that day may have experienced the same displeasure and are at risk of moving to another vendor, risking a loss of repeat business and clientele. So he asks those he remembers if the grapes were ok and offers similar replacements.

But does this process scale? What if it could? What if you could make every customer a priority, just like my local fruit vendor, by knowing everything about them?

For that you need to ensure every system, app, and data point is integrated the right way as to portray your unique business processes, focusing on driving superior CX and enabling you to drive the right, informed action by agent, marketing, automation and knowledge workers in the company.

This requires the following:

  • Incorporating every customer’s entire buying history, from self service, online, offline and every relevant action into as single repository that drives the right action for the appropriate customer facing employee.
  • Understanding your customer’s engagement preferences, to be able to respond to them when needed and proactively reach out when appropriate.
  • Analyzing sentiment changes, trends, and patterns, as to drive informed decisions for a segment of customers, who may have received the wrong or damaged product.
  • Enabling inventory demand vs supply shifts to notify the right person through their preferred channel of interaction and to offer alternate products now vs waiting for the restock.

Automating your business processes to drive great CX, enabling a full view of every customer’s unique story, and knowing everything about every customer as to drive informed actions — that’s the vision and future we all dream about.

Stop dreaming. And start today with Kustomer.

About Alon Waks: Alon Waks is the VP of Marketing at Kustomer. Previously Alon was VP of Marketing at 8×8, leading segment and demand globally, including all Go-to-market, content and sales development. Alon has a vast experience in B2B Marketing, Product Management, GTM and consulting. Prior to 8×8, Alon was VP, Global Head of Marketing at LivePerson, where he led all content, demand generation, field marketing and global operations, and also served as the head of product marketing for many years. Prior to that, Alon led Product Go-To-Market for Avaya. He has a rich background in IT consulting, Business Intelligence, Product and working worldwide with enterprise customer’s Line of Business, IT and marketing. Alon holds a dual degree from Tel Aviv University and a MBA from Duke University.

Kustomer + Looker Partnership — Use Support Data To Grow Your Business Faster

Customer Support is playing an increasingly strategic role in companies. Today, we are excited to unveil a new powerful solution that uncovers valuable insights and trends about your customers. We have partnered with Looker to create a solution that enables companies to integrate their support team’s data into broader, company-wide insights and analysis.

Kustomer helps Support teams get a complete view of their customers and treat them like people instead of transactions. Companies using Kustomer can easily create a real-time data export stream of this Support activity into their data warehouse.

The Kustomer & Looker Block

Kustomer and Looker are a perfect match: Kustomer gives you one place to view all of your customer support data and Looker is a great way to help you share, combine, and analyze that information at an operational level for your whole company.

To make it even easier to get started with your analysis, we’ve created a Looker Block for Support Analytics by Kustomer. Looker Blocks make it easy for companies to quickly deploy expertly built, tailored solutions specific to each business unit or data source. They are also a great way for partners like us to make the data we’re replicating into your data warehouse immediately actionable.

The Looker Block for Kustomer allows you to easily explore your customers, conversations, and teams data to provide a comprehensive view of Customer Support team operations. Some example metrics include:

  • Key statistics for support team members, including average time to first completion
  • Average time to first response and average number of messages in conversations
  • Conversation status and volume by channel

The Complete View of your Customer

So, why is using Looker on Kustomer data valuable? Kustomer gives you the context of the customer beyond an individual transaction and in Looker you can link this data with other operational data in your data warehouse, including application data and home-grown systems.

This union of customer data enables you to perform the analysis that can result in actions that increase loyalty, improve customer lifetime value, and help customers get what they need. You can use Looker to uncover intelligent insights not only in your customer data but in your enterprise data too.

Want to learn more?

Check out the Support Analytics by Kustomer Block. Request a demo of Kustomer here or Looker here!

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