By Matthias Goehler Chief Technology Officer, EMEA at Zendesk
High costs and an uncertain economy are putting businesses under intense pressure. And with optimism at its lowest level since the pandemic, many firms are reducing their growth expectations in both the short and medium term. But there is hope. Businesses that stay close to their customers can build better relationships and give themselves the best possible chance of success—even in tough operating climates.
Yet at present, many customer service professionals find themselves slowed down by a multitude of disconnected customer experience (CX) systems. Often, they simply have too many places to look for information and, as a result, efficiency, coordination, and profitability all suffer.
This is where conversational CX can play a key role. Conversational CX is an approach where all customer interactions live side by side on one platform, whether they take place on email, WhatsApp, phone, social media, or a mixture of all. This means service agents can more easily track them which, in turn, helps companies build a better, more rounded picture of their customers. For customers, it means more flexibility and convenience. It means getting responses faster and on their own terms, while also having more options to receive better support than they thought possible.
Unlocking the power of personalisation
Customers value feeling special and unique. Conversational CRM adds better data and insights to enhance personalisation and make interactions between organisation and customer become more fulfilling. I think it’s the future of communicating with customers.
We’re already starting to see a shift towards conversational CX in customer-focused industries where both businesses and the people they serve want to see more satisfying outcomes from their conversations. However, progress is still needed. The Zendesk CX Trends 2023 report found 62 percent of customers saying businesses could do more to offer a personalised service.
As for how firms can do so, the most effective place to start is by increasing their knowledge of customers. Take Mollie’s Motel by Soho House, for example. The company provides a host of personalised services and communication options based on what it already knows about its guests.
Then, thanks to the coordination of all the company’s communication channels and platforms, their customers’ mobile phones are recognised on arrival, thereby allowing services for their stay to be set up quickly and seamlessly.
Driving development with data
An important part of transitioning from cost centre to profit centre is the combination of data from different parts of the business. When you take away data silos and incorporate information from various functions such as marketing and sales, you have a better chance of giving customers what they need in the moment—and even things they didn’t realise they needed.
Best practice within conversational CX also lends itself to other areas of industry innovation where the customer is front and centre of the experience on offer. For example, conversational CX is very closely related to the ‘next best action’ approach where CX is contextually aware and gives customers the response that best serves their request based on the information already gathered, the time of day, available agents, and nature of the query.
All of this relies on access to the right data when agents need it most. However, not enough information is currently being shared. The same Zendesk research found that only 22 percent of business leaders say that their organisations share data well. This is at odds with another finding: that 79 per cent believe service data is invaluable and should be used to drive personalisation efforts. Conversational CX lives and dies by the data a business has access to.
Conversational CX can also impact other areas of the customer journey, such as conversational commerce. By combining conversational CX with artificial intelligence (AI) that learns people’s preferences, a shopper could ask for ‘summer clothes’ and be presented with a range of outfits that are perfect for them and their style.
Going beyond today
Although the technology to do all these things isn’t quite within reach today, companies can still take the initial steps towards harnessing it by making a commitment to using automation now. Customer experience software featuring automation is already helping to make many businesses more efficient by streamlining their operating processes. It could easily evolve to include new conversational CX capabilities as they come on stream.
As businesses look to get more value from their investment in customer experience, conversational CX is the way to unlock new ways to expand their products, services, and customer base. In a challenging present, that makes for an exciting future.