An organisation’s bottom line is the result of internal and external forces that business leaders fight to optimise at every turn.

As crucial to a firm’s growth as it is, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single area in a corporate strategy that can drastically boost a company’s balance sheet as it’s a combined effort that includes marketing, sales, R&D and countless vital elements.

Increasingly, however, there is one aspect that plays a significant role in every successful business – customer experience.

While the importance of customer experience can never be understated, not all companies understand how to execute it correctly. This is where the trap of the “expectation gap” occurs.

In a recent customer service insights survey by Pegasystems, 89% of business leaders think they provide a positive experience to their customers, yet only half of customers agree. With three in four customers suggesting experience is directly linked to loyalty, this disconnect in perception and reality can make or break even the most successful organisations.

According to customers and business leaders, there are three key pillars to great customer service:

  • Quick resolution of the issue
  • Knowledgeable service agents
  • Fast initial response

All three traits must be active throughout the buyer journey. Each pillar requires the right processes and tools in place to deliver the relevant outcomes customers have come to expect.

As such, a top priority for business leaders must be developing a thorough technology infrastructure strategy that suits the organisation’s needs by boosting customer conversion, retention and satisfaction.

Automate processes where it counts

It’s clear that speed should be a top priority for businesses wanting to deliver a positive customer experience. Speed is a critical factor in service delivery as evidenced by the importance of quick issue resolution and response time to happy customers. In fact, the entire customer journey should be an intuitive and responsive experience.

How can businesses boost their response speed? Introducing an intelligent automation platform can maximise efficiency from end-to-end, extending its benefits from the core of an organisation all the way to the customer.

Rooted in dynamic case management, intelligent automation helps capture customer issues, assign them to the right resource (human, bot or AI) and resolve them quickly and accurately.

The end result is a process that enables employees to meet customer needs with minimal disruption or time.

Enhance customer experience with smarter tools

The final component of good customer experience can often be the hardest to achieve as it requires the finding, hiring and nurturing of talent to create knowledgeable service agents.

Employees are often overlooked in the customer service equation, but sitting on the frontline makes them critical assets in everything from customer acquisition to dispute resolution. While businesses try to pre-empt customer service calls and try to solve issues with digital tools like AI chatbots, service agents end up fielding the trickier requests that are critical to customer happiness.

The Pegaystems insights report shows most customers prefer to engage with customer service agents via phone call (62%), email (46%) or in-person (41%). Keeping a human at the end of the line, not an automated message, is often necessary to maintaining customer satisfaction in certain circumstances.

The challenge is having someone that can converse with a customer as if they have been by their side throughout the entire journey. This is made possible by centralising customer data and breaking down operational silos in which particular knowledge may be stored. Providing employees with this information, when they need it, is key to improving their overall knowledge of a customer. In addition, AI can serve as a handy assistant by feeding the human agent the next-best actions to take with each customer, hence reinforcing the quality of exceptional customer service.

Despite the key advantages of putting real-time data and next-best actions into the hands of frontline service staff, it’s still not a standard operating practice for many organisations. Even worse, most agents need to sign into multiple systems or switch between applications just to find the right information for customers. This wastes even more time for the employee and the customer. Businesses should look to consolidate their tools or find a comprehensive solution to deliver a unified employee experience that ultimately improves customer experience.

With customer experience critical to organisational success, the time is now for business leaders to make it a real business priority.

The basics – quick issues resolution, knowledgeable service agents and fast response times – are vital to delivering impactful and positive long-lasting impressions for customers that benefit any business through loyalty and referrals. Not only this, but they are expected by customers with increasing expectations of brands.

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