Digital Transformation – Humans trump tech channels

humans trump tech

Digital Transformation – Humans trump tech channels


Great products are powerful building blocks for any successful business. But these days, even the best products can’t satisfy customers on their own. The Fourth Industrial Revolution has redefined customers’ expectations to the point that 80% of them now consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products. The implications for those in customer service are unprecedented.

But, as leaders our perceptions of what customers are getting in terms of customer service are very different to what customers are saying they experience with organisations – described as the customer experience gap.

The challenge in digital transformation

The challenge for executive leaders seeking to position their organisations to compete in a disruptive CX space is finding the right balance between the human touch and the digital touch. Importantly, leaders are making digital decisions without understanding the importance nor impact during the customer journey.

This has consequences for organisations who are trying to drive a more loyal customer base. As more and more organisations implement digital solutions to drive customer experience, we are observing less insights to determine which point of the journey matters most and why. This is having a large impact on the delivery of functional competence over true brand loyalty.

Businesses across the world estimate about six in ten customer service experiences are agent assisted and four in ten are self service.

Here are the latest stats published in the NICE inContact Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark report.


What consumers say:

• Consumers rank social media as their least preferred method for interaction.

• Consumers are significantly more likely to say their least preferred methods are IVR and video chat.

Customer Experience (CX) Success ∙ Businesses overestimate their own CX success compared to consumer perceptions for:

o Making it easy for customers to get issues resolved in their preferred channels

o Providing a consistent customer service experience across the purchase journey

Seamless Omni-channel Interactions

o Providing seamless omni-channel interactions continues to be important to consumers, but businesses give themselves poor ratings in this area.

AI Disconnect ∙ Businesses misjudge consumers’ desire to use AI for customer service, as well as AI’s ability to make it easy for customers to get issues resolved.

Chat Momentum ∙ Businesses are increasingly offering online chat and consumer usage is increasing significantly. Consumer and business ratings for chat are all relatively high, including for satisfaction, ease of use, likelihood to recommend, first contact resolution, and Net Promoter Score®.

Business perceptions

• 68% of businesses believe customers would like to use their virtual assistants to interact with companies whilst only 30% of consumers agree.

• 63% of businesses believe chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier for customers to get their issues resolved of 33% consumers agree.

• Business overreach in self-assigned Net Promoter Score® (NPS®). Compared to consumers, businesses give themselves higher net promoter scores for every method of communication tested.

Businesses overestimate most channel-specific NPS by broad margins. For example:

o Automated Assistant/Chatbot: While consumers award automated assistants an NPS of -8, businesses estimate they earn an NPS of 25, for a gap of 33 points.

o Email: The consumer NPS for email is -9 while the business NPS is 19, for a gap of 28 points.

o Text: Consumers give text a -2 NPS while businesses estimate 25, for a gap of 27 points.

Businesses overrate their CX success. Businesses are 15 percent more likely than consumers to agree that they make it easier for consumers to get their issues resolved in their preferred channels, and that they provide a consistent customer service experience across the purchase journey. •

• Businesses understand the value of omn-ichannel experiences, but underperform. While 93 percent of businesses agree that consumers expect companies to provide a seamless experience when moving between channels, only 24% of businesses globally give themselves an excellent rating on allowing consumers to switch seamlessly between methods of communication.

o Channel Performance Gaps ∙ Businesses underestimate customer satisfaction with agent assisted methods overall, and particularly underestimate phone. For self-service methods, businesses overestimate customer satisfaction with automated assistants / chatbots and IVR.

• Businesses give every method of communication a higher Net Promoter Score® than do consumers. The largest gaps are for IVR, automated assistant / chatbot, email, text, and social media.


Warnings to organisations undertaking digital transformation

The limitation of bots, from a customer service perspective, is they are sometimes viewed as an impediment to achieving customer success by inserting another step between the customer and a resolution.

The inherent risk of omni-channel services lies in their relevance. A business cannot be successful if they are offering their products or services through a channel that isn’t relevant to their customers.

Customers today are empowered by tech innovations — but also plagued by deepening distrust of the companies that provide them.

Customers have high expectations about what makes a great customer experience, and not a lot of patience for companies that fail to deliver.

With the increased competitiveness and the race for customer loyalty, customers are not just comparing industry like experiences.  Accounting platform solutions that boast a two hour response time for complaints and issues are being laughed at by the likes of retail channels where 30mins is the norm.

Organisations are missing some great opportunities to create memorable experience and ideate for new service and product delivery. As chat bots and AI become the norm, we are forgetting to gain insights at these sometimes critical steps. Organisations may be doing themselves a great disservice and providing opportunities for competitors who fail to gain continual insights at critical moments as they try and reduce service costs.

Adding AI and automation to highly emotive interactions are at the detriment of customer experience ie complaints. It is getting harder and hard to give an organisation general feedback about an experience as digital experience tries to categorise every interaction and deliver a less than optimal experience.


Steps to close the CX gap

1. Choose the right technology at the right stage of the customer journey

2. Customer relevance and tolerence – Leaders should be implementing CX tech and solutions that are relevant and lead to differentiation for their customers.

3. Human touch is required for problem solving – according to SalesForce report – Among high-performing teams, 63% of agents spend most of their time solving complex problems. On underperforming teams, however, a similar share of agents (57%) spend most of their time on mundane tasks.

4. Prioritise around customer needs – customers need to be at the forefront of digital transformation – the ability to understand them better, predict their needs and communication efficiently and effectively.

5. Employees have great insight frontline employees have great insights into the needs of customers and the gaps of service delivery. Ensure any solutions involves the people dealing at the cold face of customer queries and feedback and service

6. Positive emotion drives positive experience – functionality is only half way to delivering a great customer experience and digital project are sadly lacking in creating emotional engagement with customers.


Human touch for emotional engagement

Businesses report that the phone creates the most positive emotions for consumers among all methods. Four in ten (41%) say phone creates extremely positive emotions.

o Problem solving: Businesses say that phone calls most often resolve customer issues during the first point of contact compared to other methods – they estimate it resolves their issues 50% of the time on the first try. Consumers affirm this, with 71% saying their issue is resolved during the first point of contact on the phone.

o Transparency: Consumers and businesses are in agreement that customers want to be informed if they are interacting with a chatbot/virtual assistant and that customers would prefer to interact with a live agent.

KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence Report 2018 reveals Australian consumers rate personalisation as the key driver for customer service excellence. This means even with cutting-edge tech, the human factor remains vitally important in providing a customer-centric experience.


The customer experience gap

Companies of all sizes now compete in the experience economy to attract new customers, and build customer loyalty and advocacy. Evidence shows that companies in all industries can no longer rely on product quality or price alone — they must consistently deliver exceptional customer experience to drive growth.

Closing the perception vs. reality gap between how businesses believe they are executing on their customer experience strategy and how customers are engaging with their brands is critical to sustainable success.

Paul Jarman, CEO NICE in Contact could not have summed it up better, “AI innovations are at their best when paired with the human touch and deployed to address targeted customer and agent experience opportunities. AI in the contact centre has the potential to add significant value to customer experience outcomes and operational performance.”