As a customer experience leader, ensuring every customer has a positive experience when interacting with your brand is a top priority. Unfortunately, with increasing pressure on companies to slash budgets, many are looking for short-term solutions that may come with devastating long-term consequences. This often comes in the form of cutting corners in customer experience: eliminating steps or resources that are essential for enabling an optimal CX strategy. Just one misstep can leave customers feeling frustrated and alienated—the last thing you want. In this post, we will explore why cutting corners may ultimately lead you and your brand astray—and how keeping your CX at the forefront can keep both customers and company satisfied in the long run.
The importance of CX
Customer experience is about more than just answering calls or helping resolve issues. It is about proactively and strategically managing relationships to cultivate lifetime customers. These loyal customers, earned through repetitive positive brand interactions, will generate more revenue for your company over time. CX is also a key differentiator in business. When there are lots of great, similar products to yours on the market, quality CX is often the tipping point for earning a customer’s business.
This is why leaders must work to make each moment matter when it comes to interacting with customers. This can be achieved through training, implementing new technology, optimizing processes, and learning more about customers to anticipate their needs. Each of these efforts will pay dividends in the long run as people return to you and your brand because of how effortless and positive their experience was.
Customers today expect to have frictionless interactions with brands. While achieving this may look easy to some, it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes strategy and planning to accomplish. Well implemented customer service appears invisible to consumers because it means their entire interaction with your brand was easy and intuitive. To accomplish this kind of invisible customer service, CX leaders will have to understand customer intent and anticipate their needs. Then the CX team can preemptively address any concerns so a customer rarely needs to reach out for help. On the few occasions customers do need extra support, CX teams with frictionless service will be ready with quick, mapped out solutions for anticipated needs. Negative experiences leave lasting impressions on customers and may hurt a brand, while easy, almost invisible customer service is what it takes to retain life-long customers (and the revenue that comes with them).
Strategic investment in CX will result in worthwhile returns for your business. Keep this in mind as you consider how to optimize your overall business strategy. Although times are uncertain in our post-pandemic world, the current uncertainty heightens the need for businesses to invest in optimizing CX to maintain loyal customers through the ups and downs of the economy.
Why cutting corners can ruin your CX
The data is clear—many businesses are investing less in CX. According to the Omdia 2022 Enterprise Insight Survey, there has been a 4% drop in organizations planning cloud contact center investment from 2022 to 2023. There has also been a 5% drop in investment in AI, including conversational bots, which is especially surprising given how much interest this generated among CX teams at its onset. What is even more noticeable, however, is the decline in self-service tech investment, with a 7% decrease in expected investment this year. While more than half of surveyed companies still intend to increase their enterprise investments in the next year, the Omdia data suggests that there will be slightly tempered growth in 2023.
In addition to cutting tech costs, many companies have or plan to reduce CX staff. For example, Frontier Airlines recently announced they are getting rid of their telephone customer service. This raises concerns for how customer needs will be met when they have less options for reaching the airline—especially in stressful situations. These kinds of staff cuts may leave customers with less options for getting help, reducing customer satisfaction and lifetime value.
A great way to improve customer satisfaction is actually through employee satisfaction. Attrition can lead to poor customer interactions and hurt the bottom line. Implementing an employee-first business model is vital to creating a rounded CX strategy. Agents are at the front lines of customer interaction and their experiences as employees will directly affect customer experience for better or worse.
As companies pull back their strategic investment in CX for short-term savings, they are leaving money on the table. CX is at the core of revenue generation and it is a function that cannot be passed or skipped over. For example, good CX is known to increase the likelihood of subscription renewals, positive reviews can attract new customers, and customer satisfaction can lead to increased lifetime value. With careful planning, any company can redirect their efforts and optimize CX in a way that noticeably improves customer experience and saves money.
Maintaining quality CX without breaking the bank
In today’s market, companies will need to be more strategic and intentional in their planning to prevent arbitrary cut backs as a reaction to a slowing business environment. For example, an alternative to cutting staff is investing in technology that automates support and improves agent productivity. Ideally, companies will automate as much as possible and implement self service. This can help take care of regular, daily needs so your team can focus on more complex CX issues. Other strategies, like creating standard chat macros and email templates, will help increase CSAT and lower response times—saving your company money. Ultimately, CX leaders must invest in tools, people, and training to reduce operating expenses while meeting (and exceeding) new customers’ expectations. Here are a few ways you can start doing that for your team today:
In an effort to reduce costs quickly, many brands will reduce staff. This is known as the “CX Sacrifice.” It can be a mistake that may increase your time to serve and reduce customer satisfaction. Instead of going straight to layoffs, start with a process called intent mapping to develop a strategic approach to cost savings.
Intent mapping is a process that starts with deeply understanding every intent or reason why a customer is engaging with your brand. Next, identify where they ended up in the pipeline and if they accomplished their intent and what it took to get there. These insights will help establish the optimal management of those intents. Many companies will see a marked improvement after going through the process of understanding customer intent. After mapping it out, put that knowledge to good use by implementing the right technologies to repair any gaps in your process. Then use your intent mapping insights to optimize your outsourcing and business strategies to improve customer service and agent efficiency.
Intent mapping is an immediate step any CX leader can take to improve their CX strategy and make informed improvements, without requiring the valuable resource of time and staff. Try using intent mapping at your company to get better CX outcomes for less.
Invest in the right technology
There is a sweet spot with investment in tech where companies can lower cost while elevating CX. In Omida’s The State of Digital CX 2022 survey, they evaluated digital CX technologies then revealed barriers to advancing those tools. When respondents of this survey were asked about the challenges of meeting the needs of customers, 62% said that engaging across communication channels in a relevant and personalized way was challenging. Another 55% said that they were lacking tools to enable intelligent and practical engagement, suggesting CX leaders can do more to support their agents.
There is a plethora of modern, digital tools available that could significantly improve your brand’s CX. For example:
- Video Chat: This channel can help resolve issues that may require visual prompts. Video chat can also reduce the number of field tech visits and enable quicker resolutions.
- Cloud Tools: These tools can be used to help monitor quality, train staff, and even enable real-time agent assistance.
- Tools that Mirror Customer Interface: If CX associates can see what their customers can see, then it is likely they will arrive at a solution more quickly and be better equipped to identify a problem.
- Augmented and Virtual Reality: These tools can assist agents when explaining a complex concept, making a sale, or demonstrating a product.
- Team Management Software: You can invest in these tools to help connect or train agents. This is an especially crucial function when so many agents today are working remotely.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): Leverage AI to improve engagement for both customers and agents. AI can be implemented in many ways. For example, AI is used to power chat bots for online assistance or offer resource suggestions for agents when helping customers.
These tools and so many more can be implemented to help make CX more seamless and inexpensive. With the right strategy, digital tools will yield great returns for your business in the form of customer loyalty.
Know your customer and anticipate needs
A key component of CX is building relationships with customers. To do this you must know and understand them, their needs, and intents. Doing this will help you build life-time value. This value is achieved when companies take a step back and use what they know about customer needs to solve their problems preemptively. Take account of recurring customer questions, their product paint points, and what they are asking from you. This is especially important to understand when outsourcing your customer support. For best results when outsourcing, you must know your customer needs and convey them to your contracted customer service team. This includes knowing how to best communicate with customers and having a deep understanding of their most common questions. Then create plans to get ahead of those needs starting with a knowledge base and brand guidelines. When customers send an email, chat with a representative, message through social media, or even pick-up the phone, it means something in your product or process can be improved. They are often reaching out for help or guidance when something has gone wrong.
Anticipate those needs and address them so your customers do not feel the need to reach out directly for a solution. When their experience with your brand is reliably seamless and requires nearly no additional steps, that is when truly excellent brand value is achieved.
Listen and communicate
It warrants reminding that one of the most important ways to maintain affordable, quality CX is by listening and communicating with both customers and agents. Listen to learn what is working and what is not. Consider their observations and suggestions for improvement. From there, you can implement new, tailored strategies that address your unique business needs.
If these companies can do it, so can you
In a time when many companies are considering cutting back on CX and investment in CX technology has slowed, it is important to remember how businesses are affordably maintaining great CX in their organizations. Gathering data, listening to customers, and implementing digital and cloud technologies can reduce call times, improve sales, and increase meaningful customer moments.
In a Forbes article, customer experience futurist and CX author Blake Morgan outlines how some companies are doing this:
- At Trader Joes they take time to listen to customers and use feedback to prioritize cleanliness and safety at their stores. And in a time when many grocery stores were moving to delivery, they decided not to in an effort to promote in-store discovery.
- Ulta Beauty utilizes AI in a unique way to help customers try products virtually. It scaled its GLAMlab to include a skin analysis tool and AI-backed tools for trying on hair, lashes, and other products.
- State Farm uses digital tools to provide a unified dashboard to its agents so helping customers is easy and personalized.
- Discount Tire offers a blended shopping experience that incorporates online and in-store shopping. Their approach saves time and also enables employees to deliver better, personalized assistance.
Each of these strategies can be tweaked and adopted to meet your company’s unique needs. In each case, they evaluated the needs of their customers and invested in CX solutions to keep business going in a seamless manner—thus retaining loyal customers.
You can do this, too! Never sacrifice CX for the sake of saving money. It may seem like a quick solution but it will bear little fruit in the long run.
Want to make the most of your CX today? Visit SupportNinja to connect with our team of CX experts.