At Ada, we aspire to be on the bleeding edge of CX. In fact, we aspire to influence and shape how businesses interact with customers. In order to do that, we keep a close eye on the ever-shifting CX landscape to observe trends and predict consumer behavior patterns. To that end, we’ve established close relationships with a number of analysts and global market research companies, one of which is Forrester.
We recently partnered with Kate Leggett, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester, to talk about how businesses can provide scalable and proactive CX. The webinar helped businesses understand how the right CX strategies can help them have more engaging and more meaningful conversations with their customers.
The webinar is packed with fantastic insights into CX trends and customer behavior, so it’s well worth watching when you have the time. To get you started though, we’ve rounded up 5 key takeaways about scalable, proactive CX.
1. Digital customer interactions have increased, so has the cost per human interaction
The pandemic has contributed to dramatic shifts in consumer behavior. 71% of consumers are spending more time online, which in turn affected the digital landscape. The eCommerce sector witnessed 10 years of growth in just 90 days, while cloud spending rose 37% during the first quarter of 2020 alone.
The volume of digital customer interactions increased 40% post-pandemic, and as a result, so has the cost per human interaction. Right now, each customer-agent interaction is costing businesses $8-12. Thinking about that at scale, the costs can be significantly high. If you’re waiting for a pandemic bubble to pop and for things to go back to the way they were, you’re in for disappointment. The ease and convenience of digital interactions means that this consumer behavior shift is here to stay.
During the early days of the pandemic, customer service became a lifeline for companies. Support agents were trying to understand each customer’s unique situation, and then quickly work with them on a solution. In the meantime, companies were slashing their sales and marketing budgets, essentially focusing more on nurturing the customers they already had rather than attracting new ones. Suddenly, customer service became more strategically important to companies in terms of customer retention and revenue growth.
So what does that mean for you? It means that the greatest opportunity for differentiating your business and standing out in an increasingly competitive digital landscape lies in proactive, personalized, scalable CX. You should be ready to embrace a digital-first, automation-first CX strategy to provide great experiences that are cost-optimized.
2. Automation-first is essential for a successful proactive CX approach
Let’s begin this section with a couple of definitions.
What is good CX?
Forrester’s framework to define positive customer experiences is: Effectiveness, Ease, and Emotion.
Customers have to be able to reach your brand through the channel of their choice and be connected to the right resource—be that bot or agent. Customers have to be able to complete the task they set out to do, or get a full, complete, and accurate answer to the question that they have, so that they don’t have to go back and contact you again. Finally, customers should walk away from brand interactions feeling good about them. This means interactions have to be personal and delivered with a full understanding of who the customer is, where they are in their journey, and in context of their actions.
What is proactive CX?
It’s using data to understand where customers are in their journey, then proactively sending out a message to trigger the start of a personalized conversation. At Ada, we looked at over 120 million conversations that happened through our platform last year and we found that customers were 170% more likely to engage with a business in a conversation when a proactive message was sent.
So the shift to a proactive messaging model is the essence of the opportunity in automation and conversational AI. With a human-first approach, it’s logistically impossible to expect your agents to have contextual data and customer information at their fingertips all at once and wait for the right trigger to manually send out a proactive message—especially at scale. With a digital-first, automation-first approach, you can. And this is an incredibly important point of differentiation.
3. Proactive CX boosts revenue and cuts costs
With proactive CX, your customer feels valued and that the company has their best interests at heart—and that builds trust and loyalty, allowing you to hold on to your customers. Loyalty and retention are the keywords here because that’s what’ll drive your revenue.
A loyal customer will buy more from you (through upsell or cross-sell), they’ll have an increased lifetime value, and they’ll advocate for your brand, driving second-order sales. Loyalty has a quantifiable impact on your topline revenue, which is why you should care about proactive experiences. Your customers will stay longer with you, buy more from you, and talk about the benefits of doing business with you.
But revenue is only one aspect of proactive benefits. Again we go back to the start of the pandemic, when companies were being inundated with questions from customers who were looking to cancel flights or hotel bookings, who were wondering about safety standards, who were worried about their investments, and so on. From the service side, proactively sending messages to your affected customers can significantly reduce the number of inquiries coming in. It helps you optimize your processes, be empathetic to customers who are looking for answers, and get ahead of costs you might have incurred if you hadn't been proactive with your communication.
4. The CX strategy is owned by any and all teams that interact with customers—including marketing, sales, product, and support
When putting together a proactive, personalized CX strategy, you’re basically trying to orchestrate experiences around the customer based on where they are in their journey. During the discovery phase, you might share content or offers, during the exploration phase, you might want to educate them about product features, during the purchasing phase, you might want to offer assistance or remind them about abandoned carts, during post-sales you might want to help them get set up or offer advice, and so on. This is all CX 101.
But what you should keep in mind is that your customers don't see a marketing phase or a sales phase or a support phase, and that the customer journey is rarely linear. Customers just see that they want to interact with a company, and that the company has a single face. Most organizations have silos in data and processes between different departments, which means that the customer journey is fragmented. And with a fragmented journey, you won’t be able to provide the same personalized, highly effective brand experiences across the board.
Breaking down department silos allows your teams to work together on creating a unified CX strategy to present a single, consistent brand experience to your customers. Ultimately, any team that interacts with a customer at any point in their journey should be collaborating to create the CX strategy. And your tech infrastructure has to support that collaboration.
5. Successfully scaling meaningful conversations requires discipline in strategy, process, technology, and people
Before you even think about scale, you have to start by really figuring out your CX strategy. Take a step back and define what your business goals and objectives are, what your success KPIs are, what the customer journey looks like, what channels your customers want to interact on, and how all those align together in a CX strategy.
Once you’ve got that, it’s time to take a look at processes. Put your customer in the center and develop process flows that help you achieve your CX goals. This includes breaking down department silos to holistically cover the customer journey end-to-end.
This type of digital transformation will not be possible without adopting an automation-first approach. When you’re looking for a tech partner that will make this possible, you want to look for a tech solution that seamlessly integrates with your existing infrastructure, and that supports conversational AI and automation. You also want to choose a solution that is scalable in and of itself, that can grow right alongside your company’s growth, so that you don’t have to swap it out at a later date.
Finally, you want to make sure that anyone involved in the CX strategy is adopting these new processes and technologies. Empower your teams to use the resources available to them and to work collaboratively on delivering automated, personalized, proactive CX.