Everyone’s talking about the importance of digital-first customer experience, especially these days – but you have to think bigger than that. It’s not enough to just have a great mobile app or self-service chatbot. Market-leading success relies on having a digital-first culture that drives your business and meets your customers where they are.
In simplest terms, ‘digital-first’ means making your operations as digital and mobile-friendly as possible, including enabling seamless communication across multiple responsive, persistent and asynchronous digital channels. Particularly in customer service, digital-first operations and the notion of engaging with your customers in the same place that they talk to their friends and family is a game-changer.
I’m not talking about technology replacing people, but about using the latest digital capabilities to make your organization radically more efficient and productive, and improving the customer experience at the same time. It’s all about empowering employees to do their best work, and meeting customer needs faster and better, wherever they are and whenever they need you.
Where should you focus first? I think a digital-first culture for customer service relies on a few fundamentals for meeting today’s demands. Let’s look at three proven strategies that are powering market leading companies.
1 – Be where customers are – service on the go
Customer service is all about building relationships with your customers. In a digital-first world, those conversations are now across many channels from online support portals and webchat, to email, in-app, standard text messaging, and social media. Among all the options for digital engagement, asynchronous messaging has emerged as a clear winner with consumers. In fact, messaging has been the dominant way in which people communicate since over a decade ago. It makes sense that they want to engage with brands they love in the same place, given the familiarity and convenience.
For digital-first customer service, providing messaging capabilities is now the essential way to be there for customers in the moment. It gives customers a fast, convenient way to reach out, and can make it easier to resolve service issues cost-efficiently on the first contact.
Big tech leaders paved the way with technologies like Apple Business Chat and Google Business Messaging, enabling companies to integrate messaging at multiple touch points. New AI-powered solutions are now taking it a step further.
I like to call this the ‘asynchronous revolution.’ Digital-first leadership now demands multimodal customer service that supports ongoing conversations. The “start and stop” flexibility that people love so much in their personal messaging is now a business-critical interaction model that today’s digital consumers expect.
2 – Make conversations seamless across channels
Being there for customers in digital messaging is key – but what if they need to pause the conversation or switch channels in the middle of an issue? Typically it means starting all over again, which is a frustrating experience. When people have to explain their problem to multiple agents, customer satisfaction drops off a cliff.
Delivering true omni-channel support is the next essential in a digital-first business, and it is finally here.
Whether consumers reach out via messaging, webchat, or voice, all of these channels must be intelligently integrated to ensure customer service agents really know each person. Employees need to be equipped with the right interaction history and procedural knowledge to quickly move toward resolution, no matter where or when that agent stepped into the conversation.
Many companies are finding that’s the most critical customer experience problem to solve, and the biggest source of frustration for consumers who need help. That’s why I’m so excited when I see new technologies seamlessly unify and thread conversation histories across channels. Innovative solutions are finally bringing a holistic approach to customer service.
Someone can request assistance in an app, then switch to a webchat, mobile messaging, or even voice, and any agent will know all the relevant details. It ensures the customer has an easy, cohesive experience, and enables agents to work more efficiently.
In this way, AI helps fuel a digital-first business and empower support and sales teams to treat every customer interaction as a moment that matters.
AI amplifies the effectiveness of digital-first channels and new techniques help to accelerate adoption. Powering digital and mobile touch points with data-driven intelligence also radically increases productivity at a lower cost – while delivering responsive, personalized customer experiences that win brand loyalty.
3 – Empower employees with predictive capabilities
Once you’ve got digital messaging and omni-channel support in place, it’s time to kick it up a notch by augmenting customer service agents and sales teams with predictive and highly contextualized knowledge, powered by self-learning AI models. Most companies have vast volumes of data that can be harnessed to make support and marketing efforts substantially more productive.
Here’s where cutting-edge AI solutions really stand out. They can transcribe and analyze digital and voice conversations in real time, and integrate those insights with other transactional and historical data. The system can then proactively guide agents and sales reps with the most accurate and relevant information for a given customer need or situation, ensuring the best answer and outcome every time.
Those ‘conversational analytics’ translate into predictive insights that deliver powerful benefits:
- Dramatically improves productivity when your workforce knows exactly what to say and do through every interaction, without having to dig for details.
- Captures the knowledge of your best agents and sales reps. Sometimes that’s the best ‘data’ you’ve got, and it’s a lot more valuable when everyone can access it.
- Delivers data-driven intelligence to sales and marketing teams, making it easier to improve your operation and tailor customer experiences based on predictive insights instead of best guesses.
Ultimately, I believe the power of AI and predictive technologies like ASAPP are defining the future of digital-first business. This is the first time in the history of the customer service industry that we can simultaneously meet customers where they are, drive revenue growth, deliver a better customer and employee experience – and do it all at lower costs. And it’s about time.