As we plough forward with global digitalisation and see weekly, mind-blowing strides in AI, one thing remains critical as far as the Customer Experience goes…Customers want a humanised experience.
If, like me, you sit eagerly awaiting the big customer experience industry reports at the beginning of the new year (no? Just me?), you will know that customer satisfaction is precarious, with some research leaders (including the American State of Customer Satisfaction Index) sharing that we are showing a 17-year low.
Although there’s a plethora of variables that help to culminate in this woeful portrayal, there is clear insight on how we may be able to turn the tables that companies would be remiss to ignore, and that is (I’ll say it again), customers want a humanised experience.
What is a humanised experience?
Well, in a not-too-distant past our humanised experiences would be significantly more frequent. We would say ‘Hi’ to our local shopkeeper, ask ‘How do I look in this?’ to the clothing store assistant, peruse the stock in the homeware store with staff mingling around us, and chatter mindlessly with the butcher as he wraps up our sausages.
Granted, the shopkeeper may grumble back a ‘Hi’, the clothing store assistant may be way too honest, the homeware store staff may all disappear the second you need assistance, and the butcher might forget to pack your bacon…I’m not saying these were all good experiences, but they were humanised. They were important – according to Deloitte, without human connection, people are at risk of becoming “isolated, underrepresented and unfulfilled.
Now, we have exceptional e-commerce at our fingertips from the comfort of our own homes. If all goes well, our experiences are quick, and with little to no human interaction. That’s ok, sometimes that is indeed what customers want.
But if something doesn’t go well, or it’s a little more complex, or we just need some reassurance then we seek to speak to someone, and it is here, where the interaction needs to count. Partly because of the infrequency and partly because of changing consumer expectations, this interaction is significant.
Why do companies fail to deliver a humanised experience?
Despite knowing the importance of a humanised experience, it isn’t always easy to achieve. Think about your own experiences for a second. The last time you needed to speak with someone where you kept on hold for too long? Was the agent lacking interest? Did they display some knowledge gaps? Did they fail to follow up as they said they would?
A humanised experience can feel far from human and can stem from some of these common issues:
- Failure to recognise where customers want a human interaction.
Before we get to the actual customer-to-person interaction, let’s talk about the availability of that option. Companies of course want to make customer interactions easy, whilst also being cost-effective, this sometimes leads to contact channels being limited and led by business preference rather than customer preference. Companies need to understand when customers are content in self-serve or digital interactions and when human intervention is needed. For example, Qualtrics share that when it comes to billing issues and getting technical support 72% of customers want to speak with a person.
- Failure to deliver the basics.
As a CX professional committed to designing memorable experiences, I can wax lyrical about the true magic of ‘surprise and delight’. But and it is a big but, there is little point in adding sprinkles to a cake that is raw and undercooked.
When customers make contact, they ultimately want three things (the first 2 falls into my classification of basic):
Success: Meet their goal (E.g., understand the billing query)
Satisfaction: An easy, quick, effective interaction (no hiccups, just smooth sailing)
Sentiment: To feel like a person, not a number (a bit of personalisation, empathy, and humour would help to elevate the experience to a memorable one)
To deliver the basics, the front-line need to be supported. They need sufficient training, empowerment, confidence, and the right tools to help them do the job.
- Failure to understand the value of emotion.
We are not rational beings, and when customers do want to speak with a human it is now quite often triggered by experiencing a problem or an uncertainty. This naturally places customers in a more emotionally heightened state and the failure of agents to recognise and accommodate this is a problem (it’s known as the Empathy Gap).
Emotions are also a leading determiner of customer loyalty. The stronger a customer feels about the experience, good or bad, the more likely they are to return…or not.
So, how does Speech Analytics play its part in providing a world-class human experience in our digital world?
Business is steeped in data and a successful business knows how to harness this insight to pursue data-led decisions.
We collect data from hundreds (more likely thousands) of touchpoints but one of the most underutilised data points is our customer calls. Historically the art of call listening took hours of resources and covered a tiny fraction of calls. But we aren’t in the dark ages anymore! Speech Analytics now enables:
- Sentiment tracking
- Pin-point identification (such as the use of profanities, off topic-conversation and upselling)
- Gaps in conversation
- Quality Assurance
The benefits of leaning into this insight aren’t to be sniffed at.
- Improved understanding of customer sentiment: Sentiment analysis on calls means companies don’t have to rely on feedback surveys alone. Surveys absolutely have their use, but companies can suffer low response rates and responses that may not truly represent the experience (for example if it’s completed a week after the interaction).
- Improved agent engagement: Quality Assurance can be a huge influencer in agent satisfaction, leveraged well this business necessity can be its golden ticket to great EX and CX. QA can not only ensure your customers are getting a good level of service, but it can also help to identify where agents excel and where they need extra support. Evaluagent is the first QA platform to utilise Speech Analytics, making it possible to QA a significantly increased volume of calls, freeing up valuable people time and holistically connecting QA with customer sentiment and feedback. Of course, this leads to cost savings too.
- Improved customer satisfaction: It’s one thing to experience the benefit of enhanced customer sentiment understanding, but ultimately businesses want to enhance the customer experience. With Speech Analytics you can. The enhanced insight enables better, more customers centric-decision making and as I’ve shared in a previous article, a great employee experience leads to a great customer experience, you can find that read here.