How smartphones are transforming customer experience

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Typically, the customer support experience has involved the following steps. You call a helpline, are placed in a queue, and wait for an agent to answer. After all of that, you then have to verify your identity with security questions, explain your issue, and hope that the person you’re speaking with can solve your issue.

The reality has been that, after all of that, you would likely be transferred, and have to repeat this process multiple times before the issue was resolved.

Right now, customer support is at a tipping point. There are two major shifts taking place within not only the support center but across the entire enterprise. The two seismic shifts taking place in the world of customer support are the wide adoption of digital-first strategies and the requirement for great customer experiences. The intersection of these two major trends will reshape how customer support professionals and contact centers will operate. And at the center of all of this lies the smartphone, which is everyone’s portal to the information universe.

Adopting a digital-first support strategy

In today’s dynamic and highly competitive environment, businesses find themselves under more pressure than ever to rapidly innovate and grow. The harsh reality for companies is that they need to either prioritize digital transformation, or get passed by. This realization has led businesses to invest significant time, energy, and resources into digital-first strategies in order to create a frictionless interaction between organizations and their customers.

The emphasis on digital adoption and strategies is happening across the enterprise. Marketing teams are looking at platforms such as social media, community blogs and pages, and video rather than investing in traditional advertising. Sales teams are also becoming more data-driven in the way they identify and approach prospective customers and close deals.

For many organizations, digital initiatives have become a lifeline. According to IDG’s (www.idg.com) 2018 State of Digital Business Transformation, 89% of organizations have adopted or have plans to adopt a digital-first strategy. Technologies such as AI, big data analytics, IoT, machine learning, and more are playing a key role in reshaping customer support both from the customer and agent perspectives. These new and emerging digital technologies are allowing support organizations to streamline their operations, and adopt new business models that enable speed, agility, efficiency, and profitability.

The impact of experience

At the same time that businesses are looking to adopt and implement digital-first strategies, the importance of customer experience is at an all-time high. Today’s saturated market has created unlimited choices for consumers, which has resulted in less product differentiation between competitors. With the lines between product features and functionality blurring, customers have started to shift their focus to other considerations when making their purchasing decisions. While there are many other factors such as a brand’s image and values, the importance that experience has on a customer's purchasing decision is higher than it has ever been before.

In fact, according to the 2019 State of Service Report by Salesforce (www.salesforce.com), 80% of customers now consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products, and the evolution of customer experience has big impacts on business growth. According to a 2016 Forrester (www.forrester.com)report, customer experience leaders delivered a 17% compound annual growth rate, whereas poor customer experience delivered just 3% over the same period. Think about your own experiences, both good and bad, and how they’ve impacted the way you feel about a brand and your likelihood to purchase, or continue purchasing their products.

Customers today don’t just buy products, they view the entire process from first thought through their actual purchase as an experience, and it is these experiences that customers tap into when deciding whether or not to do business with the company again. The fact is, the customer journey and experience has evolved at a much faster rate than customer support teams. The experience that customers today don’t just wantbut expectis one that allows them to seamlessly move from channel-to-channel and interact with brands in the same way that they would with their friends, family, and colleagues.

The power of the smartphone

There’s no denying that smartphones have changed everything and we’re now communicating using nearly all of our senses through them. The beauty is that we are able to communicate with each other both visually and contextually—calling, sending photos, videos, messages, and more, sometimes all within a single interaction. Essentially, smartphones are supercomputers in the palm of one's hand, so it makes sense that they would be a core element of any digital-first strategy businesses are taking to revamp and transform the customer experience.

Empowering customers to use the features and functionality of smartphones allows them to interact with organizations in a more organic and comfortable manner. However, customers are not the only ones who benefit from a smartphone-centric customer experience. For support agents and organizations, smartphones can and should play a vital role in their approach to digitally transforming the contact center.

First, bringing smartphones into the contact center helps agents securely access information that can help them resolve customer issues faster. For example, through in-app support on a customer’s device, agents can gather data and insights, such as a customer’s purchase history, previous support interactions, location, whether the customer is an Android or iOS user, and more. This is all information that can be at the agents' fingertips to help them to better guide the customer through the support experience. Agents can also request and receive photos or videos in real time so that, rather than having a customer simply describe how their product is malfunctioning, they can see it for themselves.

Smartphones also help support organizations gather more actionable data. With a better understanding of the channels customers are predominantly using, and what times they are most likely to reach out, support leaders can strategically train their agents and staff their support centers accordingly. By understanding the devices they have and the features they use, support teams can gain a better understanding of not only their customers' journey, but what makes them tick. This valuable data can help teams rethink and reshape their support journey and experience by identifying key points that need improvement, or areas that can be leveraged for upsell opportunities.

The time for digital transformation is now

The writing is on the wall; the time to begin implementing a digital-first support strategy is now. Support organizations that can leverage the power of the smartphone in order to transform their contact center can not only gain key insights to help streamline support operations but can also make agents more effective, and create the experience their customers want. While this transformation won’t happen overnight, it is critical to begin laying the foundation of a digital and smartphone-centric customer experience today to reap the rewards of tomorrow.

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