Today’s customers expect nearly everything at the speed of now, and that includes how their brands interact with them. To keep pace with this increasingly sophisticated customer for whom time is always of the essence, brands must endeavor to deliver a customer experience (CX) in real-time or as close to real-time as possible.
If you aren’t anywhere close to real-time in your CX or perhaps you’re not completely convinced it’s necessary in your industry, let me offer at least one reason that transcends any business sector – if you’re not doing it, there’s a good chance your competitors are. Doing something only “because you can” is typically not sound business advice, but in this case, consider what would happen if you didn’t. Chances are that as you’re reading this, your competitors are looking for ways to rapidly assess, respond to, understand and optimize the customer experience.
Across industries, the time-to-response has fallen dramatically, from the delivery of e-commerce packages to wait times for online chat support. Sure, it was once common to suffer through extended phone wait times or email support answers. But again, today’s customers are no longer OK with that, in part because of real-time live chats and websites that offer first-hand, self-serve information. What’s more, because businesses are increasingly moving toward the real-time goal, anything slower than that directly correlates with increased dissatisfaction.
Looking for inspiration? Brands like Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton and Trader Joe’s are repeatedly referenced as having stellar CX so it’s no surprise that they’re moving toward real-time CX. Also, according to Forrester Research, Navy Federal and USAA top the CX index for banking, while Humana leads in the health insurance space.
The CX of Tomorrow Starts Today
What are you waiting for? We’re talking about real-time CX after all – start the conversation now. It won’t be lost on your customers. There are plenty of gadgets, consultants and software systems that can be distracting, but don’t let this be a reason not to get started. You can get to those more robust projects later. Here are some things you can start doing immediately.
First, take a look at your culture. It starts with a company-wide recognition that CX isn’t solely the responsibility of your customer service and support teams. Every employee in every division plays a role in CX and it’s important to empower all team members to better understand how their role fits into the bigger CX picture.
At ComplianceLine, we are a deeply customer-focused company and have been since we were founded, from the way we develop products to the way we hire and reward employees. Satisfied customers aren’t enough for us – we want Raving Fans. This starts by helping each department evaluate their contributions and performance in relation to how it will impact our customers, which, over time, has led to ideas for improving CX responsiveness coming from folks in support, IT, operations and accounting.
Start Now, Improve over Time
Start documenting and structuring your processes, including KPI targets, by prioritizing the responsiveness of your CX. Do you have enough staff to meet service targets at peak volumes? If not, considering tapping managers from other departments to handle potential overflow during these times. Don’t forget the seemingly small things that can have a big impact in response times during off-peak hours – do you have an emergency escalation number for priority requests? That will get you one step closer to real-time CX.
Over time, you can build on this with Integrated Technology, Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning, but even without these things, you can get started today. Like most new things, there will be challenges and roadblocks ahead – perhaps a shiny new technology isn’t living up to its promise, perhaps a new process had unintended consequences that negatively impact your CX – anticipate and plan for these things. It’s also human nature to be resistant to change, so think ahead of time about how these changes might be perceived by employees outside the scope of the direct customer journey. Any impactful change requires communication and a commitment to continuous improvement – from your executive team to the front lines.
Real-time CX is here to stay. Can you really afford not to implement this fast-growing strategy for customer delight? You can take these simple but helpful steps today to assess, respond to, understand and optimize the customer experience in real-time. Your customers will most certainly take notice.