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Survey Says: Embrace Digital Customer Engagement

In this fast-paced digital world, customers typically use digital first to engage – and speaking to you (either coming into your store or having a meeting with you) is often the last thing they want to do. What’s more, brands that force consumers to do so risk losing their loyalty.

With that in mind, BBVA decided to embrace mobile and enable customers to open new accounts via their mobile devices in minutes. BBVA provides a rich, real-time audio and video experience on a mobile phone or tablet. The solution enables BBVA to validate customers’ identity so customers and prospects can quickly open a new account, and these sessions can also be recorded for compliance purposes.

Digital Customer Engagement

By embracing modern digital customer service engagement, the financial services industry has the opportunity to leap forward and provide products and services that match the digital lifestyle of their customers.

Forrester says we’re in the “ Age of the Customer,” reflecting the fact that as nearly everyone has gone online, they have been empowered with an unlimited wealth of information with which to advise buying decisions. In this new era and at its core, customer experience is about delivering a truly personalized, contextual and meaningful experience to customers across the entire customer engagement lifecycle. These days, they are unwilling to settle for less than great.

Indeed, a recent global survey by Oracle shows modern consumers are fed up with poor customer engagement, with more than 75 percent saying inefficient customer service detracts from their quality of life. What does that mean exactly? Well, the study suggests consumers have had it with companies that rely on outdated call centers and online technologies to handle every inquiry. They prefer self-service options, and when they need more help want to be connected to the right people straight away from within their app to get personalized guidance quickly and easily. They also want to make those connections across any endpoint they happen to be using at any given moment, whether it’s a mobile application, chatbot, virtual digital assistant, or via a channel that’s appropriate for that interaction (voice, video, screen share) in a seamless manner.

The survey found, for example, that nearly 80 percent of consumers want their issues resolved in one interaction. About 75 percent believe modern engagement capabilities enhance their experiences. And that same percentage even called out the value and efficiency of voice and video chat as important.

On some level, most businesses recognize the need to adapt to modern consumer expectations but many struggle to figure out the best path for doing so. The key is to embrace an effective digital strategy that makes it as painless as possible for consumers to engage with brands anytime, anywhere and from any device. Here are five steps organizations should take to ramp up for the Age of the Customer:

1. Be Mobile

Been to the drive-up window of a Starbucks lately? Chances are you saw most of the cars ahead of you present a smartphone to the barista instead of a credit card or cash.

Consumers today depend on mobile applications for just about everything, whether it’s buying coffee, checking the weather, engaging with a brand or logging a customer service issue. In fact, 95 percent of consumers are mobile, and 70 percent are highly engaged through their mobile apps, the Oracle survey found.

If you do not have a branded mobile app and you are not providing an in-app engagement channel for customers, you are putting your company at a significant competitive disadvantage.

2. Engage Customers Throughout Their Journeys

To survive and thrive in the Age of the Customer, companies must prioritize engaging with customers at every step of their journey with a brand, from the moment they researching through their purchase and well into their use of a product. The most successful brands do this quite effectively, and results show they can reap the benefits. For example, the Oracle survey found that consumers’ loyalty increases by 25 to 30 percent for brands that offer modern engagement capabilities.

Successful companies continually invest in identifying, understanding and deploying new ways of connecting with and servicing customers throughout their brand journeys. Rather than forcing customers to call the telephony contact center, companies should modernize by allowing customers to engage businesses on mobile, web and directly from within branded applications already installed on their digital devices. Brands can proactively deliver an exceptional experience by prompting customers to effortlessly engage at the right time, via a single click or touch, such as during new user registration or for timely support when customers are experiencing issues.

3. Connect Customers to Experts – Immediately

Customers hate wasting time traversing interactive voice response (IVR) systems and speaking with the wrong scripted agents. With bots powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, these types of scenarios could begin to vanish.

For example, the University of Adelaide , one of the oldest public universities in Australia, faced a challenge during admissions season. Every year, a crush of students would rush to contact the universities to which they applied hoping to learn whether they were eligible to receive bonus points for their ATAR scores – which help determine whether they can get the courses they need.

To better serve these students and lighten the load on its contact center, the school worked with Rubicon Red, a managed service provider, to deploy a chatbot that automatically calculated any adjusted scores and delivered them to the students instantly. The chatbot resulted in 40 percent fewer calls and 97 percent less wait time on the university’s phone-based inquiry service while providing an engaging and more interactive experience for students.

4. Provide Context for Customer Journeys

We’ve all had the experience where we call a service line, provide our security information, explain our situation and then get transferred to a different department where we have to repeat ourselves all over again. Sometimes, customers must endure this kind of frustration multiple times before their problem finally gets resolved, creating a horrible overall customer experience.

In the ideal world, associates never have to ask security questions if a customer is already logged-in on a Web site or app. Associates should also be better prepared to handle calls by knowing relevant information about who is calling and the contextual details about each customer’s journey.

This can only be enabled with modern technology systems that apply contextual awareness (location, place in the app, personal details, etc.) and machine learning to suggest solutions to customer challenges based on their specific situations.

5. Create a Smarter Customer Engagement System in the Cloud

In addition to what customers see, back-end systems will also be needed to optimize an organization’s ability to capture, analyze, and mine for insights across all their customer channels.

All interactions and media types – voice, video, screen sharing, etc. – should be recorded in real-time and made available for insights later. This ultimately allows the business to modify customer engagement scenarios and deliver an even better experience moving forward.

Cloud makes this integrated channel approach simple. Businesses looking to transition to a more seamless and digital approach must consider cloud as mission-critical for rapid adaptation and agility.

The key to success in the Age of the Customer isn’t to apply old-fashioned call center approaches and hope for the best. Customers are now conditioned to expect access to a variety of innovative customer engagement capabilities – and they won’t settle for less.

Today, the empowered customers choose how they engage, when, where and how often. And they make the rules. For companies to differentiate, they must be willing to meet the customer where they are, in context, with the appropriate interaction across these individualized journeys.