This year has been one of large-scale change. The events of 2020 have served up a shock reminder to us all that the only thing that’s certain about the future, is UNcertainty.
The changes have presented a huge opportunity for brands however, to prioritise the experience of their customers first, and forge stronger relationships with them than ever before. The way organisations deal with their customers and the broader community in a crisis is likely to leave lasting memories in customers’ minds. With buying behaviour changing and the rate of digital penetration escalating, now is the time more than ever before, to listen to your customers. Listen, learn, meet them where they are, and treat them with care and compassion first, whilst building your capabilities for the future. I’ve seen many Customer Experience teams suffer and underdeliver throughout the uncertainty of the year thus far, and I’ve seen some of them thrive. Here are four of my tips on how to improve your NPS scores now, and future proof your CX for 2021.
As customer behaviour and expectations are rapidly changing, Customer Service leaders are looking to reform the traditional ways they have delivered their services. All relationships involve some sort of emotional connection and the connection between brand and consumers are no different. Built over time and amongst multiple touchpoints, your relationship with your customer isn’t necessarily secured by having the best price in the market or the slickest Marketing Campaigns anymore. The most important factor these days is Trust.
How to build trust? Exhibiting emotional intelligence and responding to market changes with care, honesty and empathy means that customers feel understood. Feeling heard and having their situation acknowledged, means your community are more likely to trust you. In a crisis, however, people will be sensitive to tone and motives. Ask yourself, are you communicating with them in order to try selling them something, or are you reaching out to help them? By being genuine and authentic with your outreach, you’re far more likely to earn trust.
Consumer behaviour has dramatically shifted these past few months whilst we’ve all been at home with limited access to our family and friends. Online penetration has sharply escalated and some local and global retailers have been caught off guard, needing to enforce virtual queuing systems to avoid website crashes. Take online grocery shopping for example - a sector predicted to grow by 56% this year due to lockdown restrictions. Demand became overwhelming across the board as more and more first-time users took to ordering their weekly shops online and many of us experienced the struggle for grocery delivery slots at the start of the pandemic. The importance of optimising digital platforms and delivery capabilities to serve customers at scale matters more than ever to protect CX.
Despite the growing online adoption and shifting customer demographics, PwC’s customer intelligence series found that 59% of people believe that companies have lost touch with the human element by focusing too much on technology. This indicates that organisations need to find ways to humanise the digital experience whilst building agile solutions into their capabilities. Up until this point, businesses have prioritised efficiency - relying on automated or robotic processes powered by AI to reduce cost to serve. Whilst automated solutions may help in the case of simple enquiries, complex customer interactions remain, and given the sensitivity in current customer mindsets - a cold, pre-recorded chatbot script just isn’t going to cut it.
Businesses must now consider how to make their interactions more human. A customer who contacts your Call Centre might be delighted to have the option of a video call with a real person who’s also working from home, and is able to take the time to talk through their enquiry.
Many of the Customer Experience leaders I’ve been speaking to have learnt their workforces can be more flexible than they ever imagined pre-COVID. In response to the trends in customer behaviours, we’re seeing more organisations explore new ways of working, experimenting with different operating models as a way to prepare their capabilities for uncertainty, volatility and complexity in what their communities are facing day to day. Many organisations are applying agile principles and technologies to the way they shape their organisation, manage their workforces and run the business overall. The Customer Service agents at the front line have been impacted the most by increased interaction volumes. The smartest CX leaders out there are considering this a once-in-a-generation opportunity to consider bold shifts in their operating strategies in order to future-proof their CX for the road ahead.
Teams who have previously relied upon offshore contact centres in the Philippines and India (where working from home capabilities are less prevalent) have been seriously impacted. Given the impact on business continuity, I’m seeing these organisations take a second look and seeking to reduce reliance on global suppliers. A recent study indicated that contact centres are the most persuasive and engaging channel for customer experience. A further study by Commonwealth Bank indicated that 9 in 10 Australians prefer local call centres. Some organisations have temporarily stood up virtual contact centres locally, with staff working from home, to manage the increase in call demand and they are taking stock to determine the feasibility of repatriating them onshore to improve customer experience longer-term.
Many have enlisted temporary support from call centre agents that are onshore and working from home. Employing contingent staff is a low-risk strategy to help embed essential Agility into your operating model. The reality is that the Contact Centre of the future is likely to include a blended workforce of humans, gig workers and robots. With the flexible scale and administrative support of contingent workers, FT workers will be able to work more productively, and alongside real-time data insight from the machines, they will work smarter too. With these three elements working together - truly Customer-Centric, CX excellence at all touchpoints can be achieved.
Jacob Morgan is one of the World's leading authorities on the Future of Work. A best-selling author, keynote speaker and futurist, he advises business leaders and organisations all over the world; KPMG, Pandora, Cisco and T-Mobile to name a few on how to Future-Proof their business. In this post, we have compiled a list of skills and education areas that Morgan advises will help employers learn what to look for, in order to future proof their workforce
Over the last 25+ years I have worked with some amazingly talented people at some of Australia’s largest Finance, Software and Insurance companies, in roles spanning C-level management, go-to-market strategy, planning and senior Corporate Leadership. I completed an MBA in 2013 whilst simultaneously launching two businesses and raising 3 gorgeous children. Over the past 8 years, I have been been recognised as an Entrepreneur and Disruptor, and for the high-growth success of Digivizer. But alongside celebrating my own wins, I've always tried to give back to others looking to launch and build their own businesses.
Today, Digivizer is now a 55+ person business with an established presence in 14 countries. We provide creative services and technology to Global brands like Microsoft, Lenovo, Intel, Google, Optus, Bethesda as well as a number of Australian fast growth companies.
I put the success of Digivizer down to the talent we’ve hired and the culture we have built. As a smaller, lesser known company, or start-up, you need to find creative ways to attract, engage, motivate and reward especially when you are competing for talent against big name corporations and established brands, with attractive salaries and big budgets.
This has been a core focus of mine at Digivizer. We’ve spent significant time working on our hiring strategies, recruiting for the very best talent and finding ways to appeal to them. Over the years, my experience has helped me narrow down to the top five key skills or traits we look for. All 5 need to be met or we keep looking. These are:
Small businesses and startups often attract the smartest people in the market because they offer opportunities to make a real difference from Day One and for the most part, smart people are hungry to make a change. To do things never attempted or delivered before in newer, more flexible ways we ever thought possible. It will take work to keep these people however – it means understanding everyone as a unique individual, having a clearly-articulated vision for the company, having well-defined opportunities to contribute, to share success, and to reward when the big prize is won (and with smaller prizes along the way). You can have the world’s smartest person, but they must also have the agility to be able to handle anything that is thrown to them.
I’ve learnt to look beyond technical skills in the search for new talent, delving a little deeper and looking for offline experience, attitude, and personal and behavioural attributes like entrepreneurial spirit, preparedness to embrace uncertainty, and being prepared to commit to a cause and creatively problem-solve. Vision, and that ‘elusive great idea’, might provide the spark, but the fire that follows will only be kept alight by talented people doing clever things, who are prepared to collaborate with other talented people. By looking for those people, we have ended up with a team of men and women, young and old at Digivizer, from diverse ethnic backgrounds - from China to Sri Lanka, India to New Zealand. I’ve realized that meaningful diversity comes from opportunity, and from hiring the best-possible skills that we can, from wherever we can. True diversity has been integral to the success of Digivizer. And talent is the raw element that leverages all that diversity towards the vision we as a company aspire for.
We regularly poll our team on what they value, and consistently one of the strongest values is our desire and ability to be Infinite Learners. The biggest value you can offer your talent is better than a “MBA every day”. We involve our team in setting development goals and expose them into inputting into strategy, planning, pricing, even our values (and our recruitment strategy) - all the key decisions! The more they feel they can influence change and do things better, the greater the learning mindset and ability to pivot fast.
Business success is about actually getting things done. At every level of the business, it is important to develop a meaningful plan with key measures of success. Then, this needs to be translated into actions and specific, measurable, deliverables. You need to measure all that you do and refine on the way. I love Eisenhower’s quote on planning:
"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
However it is more critical to measure and reward outcome and what gets done, rather than effort and intent. This is an important distinction that also allows us to support flexibility - we’re focussed entirely on the right thing being delivered (not where or how people work to get there).
Pretty self-explanatory I’m sure! We have no room for ego, rudeness or disrespect. Our team will call people out if they see poor behaviour and we continuously find ways to ensure maximum sharing, collaboration, integration, x-project management to keep our organisation as flat as we can.
For businesses looking to attract top talent in the future of work, hiring should start with these top 5 traits and characteristics. At Digivizer, our values are crafted by our employees themselves. They are non-negotiable, focusing on “one team, one dream”, truth and transparency, responsibility, courage and growth. We ensure everyone is clear about our vision, our objectives, our values, our success measures and that we care mostly about our customers success. We then continually check on progress with everyone. Nothing beats survey data around employee engagement, performance, and satisfaction and how well we live our values, to ensure we get this part of our business right and the best it can be. Our leadership mantra is simple - grow people and you grow business. Spending time understanding and providing challenges for people, is the surest way to deliver growth.
The talent pool of Weployees are pre-screened for all the soft skills mentioned above, and are ready to hit the ground running to help grow your business too.
At the start of a new year, business leaders are in planning mode, laying out the foundations for new targets and aligning strategies on how to get there. For many, the tried and tested motto “The Customer Comes First”, still stands true, but with all the strategies out there for improving Customer Experience, what should be the top priority for success in 2020?