It is easy to get carried away with all the possibilities to reach your customers – but it is essential not to overdo it, and choose your points of contact and the frequency very carefully.
How has the pandemic changed customer expectations and what is the best strategy for companies to adapt?
First of all, the pandemic as we all know has dramatically changed the way we work and interact. We have seen digital initiatives that have been discussed for +3 years materialise in 2 weeks’ time! It is truly fascinating to see how unexpected events can kickstart a change in old habits and boost new ways of working.
When it comes to customer engagement, we see increased interaction volumes in almost all channels. Video and digital channels have exploded! From a way of working perspective, suddenly other parts of companies are embracing the customer service way of doing things, in the sense that live engagements are provided over phone, email, chat, video etc.
The customer expectations are still the same in the sense that we all want good, fast, personal and relevant service. The challenge for companies is that there has been a shift from physical meetings to remote meetings. One example is found within healthcare where doctors suddenly will work with the same tools and in the same processes as contact centre agents. It is important for us as suppliers to understand the importance to change our lingo to get the other professions that will use our services on board.
So basically the high level company engagement strategy should be:
- Provide customers with really good self-service applications
- When in a live engagement, optimise the work environment and process. The future will just be more complex so there will be a need for super agents with a toolbox that is fit for purpose
- Evolve your data into insights that can drive development and help you identify and eliminate root causes to any customer dissatisfaction
How to keep in touch with the customers during the pandemic and is there a way to even strengthen the relationships?
With the high acceptance of nonphysical live meetings lies an opportunity. For example within the B2B world I foresee that tenders will have a “green” policy. There will be low acceptance in the early tender phases that companies fly in employees from one side of the country to the other for a 1h presentation. What was perceived as being rude or ignorant will be viewed as the most natural thing. That will free up valuable time, boost productivity and reduce CO2 emissions related to travel.
Within the B2C lies the opportunity to provide a physical service sensation in a new way with better availability and less hassle for the customers, the engagements can happen from home or from a place where the customer chooses to be.
A guiding principle is always to be relevant and personal. It is easy to get carried away with all the available digital engagement opportunities around. Just because you can broadcast information at almost no cost, does not necessarily mean that you should do that. We need to avoid engagement “fatigue” and the feeling that you are being stalked by companies.
The danger is that we apply low hit rate strategies that only works when applied in large numbers. This “data driven” mode will of course lead us in a dangerous direction just ramping up volumes to boost the number of conversations .
The solution is to be insight driven, apply a strategy where you as a company challenge yourself to restrict your communication to customers to for example only 10 messages per year. Then you would most likely select the content, point in time and messages very carefully.
What were the roles of technological innovations during the pandemic? Looking back, what could have been handled better?
The technology that we are using has been around for some time now, nothing new here. The pivoting point as with many things is our acceptance working in a different mode.
Higher acceptance has really sparked innovation and we are engaging in many new ways, not always perfect and sometimes cumbersome, but so much better than no engagements. It is very interesting to carefully monitor the progress and of course it will be exciting to see what will be here to stay.
From a technology perspective we are still running in an inside out perspective, think about a Teams meeting. I think that the most frequently phrase asked is “Can you see my slides/screen”. The obvious reason for that being asked is of course that the tools that we use are not user friendly enough. This is in line with expectations and a part of a natural evolution cycle. What we need to do is just continue to work harder to produce better services that are more user friendly.
With that said I think that our digital readiness could have been better, many companies suffer from a technological debt based on legacy systems. They have been obstacles and roadblocks when digitalising the operation/engagements. Many, if not all, companies are aware of this but have not really acknowledged it. I think that this will change now.
Fredrik LEMMING, Director Sales – Customer Experience at Telia has more than 18 years of experience in working with customer experience and customer service solutions in the Nordic market, renowned for its high digitalising maturity and early adoption of new technology.
Customer experience management is a core competence and something that he is passionate about, especially now that more than ever, delivering personal and relevant customer meetings regardless of channel, place or time of day is a critical success factor.