Improving the digital customer experience is still a huge opportunity for many businesses. Make every customer interaction count so you can adapt in real time.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of our three-part series examining how organizations can stay ahead of tomorrow in these uncertain times, based on interviews with Medallia’s leading experts.)
The COVID-19 pandemic taught us that companies that lead with empathy and genuinely address customer needs have the ability to strengthen relationships. But, the question now becomes: How can you strengthen this emotional connection and meet — and exceed — those expectations when there are fewer human interactions?
“The pandemic has forced the rapid adoption of digital alternatives to processes that were previously done in person,” said Greg Osborne, VP of Insurance for Medallia, who has two decades of leadership experience in the industry. “The shift to digital has transformed traditional human-to-human interaction, creating opportunities for quicker service, more efficiency and a focus on activities that generate high-value outcomes. But the challenge for companies today is how do you stay connected to customers throughout their digital journey?”
The break-fix cycle of enhancing digital properties based on months of observed data is no longer enough. Customers expect more from brands today, and they expect it faster than ever. Organizations must engage customers in real time at key points throughout the digital journey to learn what’s working, what’s not and what customers want next.
By engaging in the moment, brands can listen, learn and act to resolve poor experiences in real time and improve future ones.
While most organizations are in the midst of a digital transformation, improving the digital customer experience is still a huge opportunity. The pandemic showed that customers were not afraid to shift loyalty — with 76% of consumers changing brands or shopping habits — if they felt a competitor offered a better experience.
But figuring out how to deliver a better experience is the challenge today. Traditional surveys no longer provide enough context or fast enough insights. Brands must be open to feedback across their website, mobile app — and across all connected devices as experiences are happening. Short, fast and in-the-moment feedback can provide rich and timely insights, driving quicker and more impactful actions.
Restaurants are a great example of this, where the product is a visceral experience. Diners young and old, in restaurants or at home after ordering takeout, are posting pictures of their meals. While they have their phones out, why not engage them via text and their camera? Send them short, quick feedback pulses via SMS or ask for open-ended video feedback that allows you to get a better idea of what makes or breaks a fantastic experience, according to Justin Butterfield, a solutions consultant for Medallia who helps design solutions for foodservice clients.
The ability to effectively reach different customer segments depends on meeting them on their terms, where they are more likely and willing to respond. By giving customers the opportunity to use different modes of feedback, you can gain a deeper understanding of their experiences through images, video, voice and text.
In addition to direct feedback, companies can also capture experience signals throughout the customer journey from indirect feedback such as social media, and operational data and observed behavior to gather a more complete view of the customer.
Building customer relationships in a digital age is a balancing act in which customer needs have to be met while anticipating tomorrow’s preferences. The demand for prioritization and personalization is top of mind. Consumers don’t just want to provide feedback, they expect you to learn from it and respond in the moment. They want proactive communication and quality engagement that helps get them to a faster, more enjoyable experience.
In healthcare, for example, communication and engagement are crucial components to providing a great patient experience.
“Patients perceive the quality of care they receive based in large part on the quality of interactions they have with their healthcare clinician and team. And those feelings couldn’t be more important today,” said Toni Land, MBA, BSN, CPXP, Head of Clinical Healthcare Experience at Medallia, who has spent more than 30 years in healthcare across a number of settings ranging from nursing, home care, medical practice, performance improvement and management. “Patients want a personal, human connection with their providers even when they are not in the same room.”
With texting now the most common form of communication for Americans under 50, some healthcare providers are using messaging to communicate in real time with patients to share educational resources, appointment updates and care reminders.
Real-time communication is also helping in the retail industry, where a Medallia customer has replaced its live chat functionality with AI-powered two-way text messaging to engage customers on the channel of their choice. Chat usage has soared 500%, while costly contact center call volume has decreased 120%. Not surprisingly, customer satisfaction scores have increased as well.
In times of uncertainty, proactive communication becomes even more important, said Jason Pontelin, a director of professional services for Medallia, who works with customers across healthcare, life sciences, telecommunications and utilities.
“In many cases customers simply don’t know what’s going on, so by proactively informing them of situations or new guidelines you can ease tensions and improve experiences,” he said. “No one can stop a wildfire, but by communicating the power outages or work being done to restore power from downed trees you can engage customers and help them understand how much work is going on behind the scenes.”
Digital has become the primary engagement and operational channel for most businesses. It’s no longer only for transactions, but now central to the overall customer experience and the new battleground for brands to attract and retain customers.
By engaging customers in real time across every touchpoint of this new digital journey, organizations can identify customer pain points, detect trends and drive actions that improve the customer experience and increase loyalty.