Four strategies to improve the Aussie customer experience
According to a recent Ovum survey, customer service in Australia is getting worse, with a jaw-dropping 90 percent of customers stopping doing business with a company following a bad customer experience.
Consumers also said that it takes six different interactions on average to resolve an issue. According to Aussie customer experience expert Cyara, which is providing an Australian-made Software as a Service (SaaS) platform enabling companies to improve their customer experience in the omnichannel age, these findings are alarming, yet not surprising.
Cyara’s co-founder and CEO, Alok Kulkarni said: “Customer experience has to become the center of attention! Many companies want to push innovative solutions and platforms to provide their customers with reliable omnichannel customer service, but most of them don’t invest in the right resources nor follow the right steps, and end up providing poor customer service that impacts their reputation, and customers’ loyalty”
Kulkarni shares four ways for Aussie businesses to improve their customer service experience:
1. Provide a seamless customer experience
“Providing a seamless experience across all channels is challenging because most companies built their customer service with a range of different technologies,” said Kulkarni “And when they try to link all these platforms together to unify the customer experience, things go wrong.”
“Organisations, especially in the financial services, retail and telco industries, can’t afford to get their customer service wrong, even more as they offer an increasing number of services through digital channels and are trying to get Millennials’ attention”
“Getting the customer experience right is work. In fact, it takes the hard work of learning from your customers, looking at the data, and listening to feedback that provides insights into what customers are actually experiencing.
Kulkarni also explained that, for any organisation, the first step in pushing a new customer service upgrade or innovation should always be to invest in optimising the customer experience innovation lifecycle through automated testing and monitoring.
3. Be deliberate
“Organisations often rush into innovations,” Kulkarni adds, “If they took the time to properly develop and orchestrate their testing strategies they would actually reduce their time to market - at Cyara for example we help our clients reduce their time to market by 40 to 70 percent for innovations that improve customer experience”.
He said that a testing and monitoring phase is key to ensuring that the customer experience project is delivered with a high degree of automation, and a reduced risk of failure. He added: “Testing strategies must include omnichannel testing, discovery and monitoring of IVR, chat, and mobile self-service platforms.”
“By identifying defects earlier in the development cycle you can reduce development costs by up to 80 percent. Indeed, fixing issues earlier on is less costly than once your system is up and running and that you need to interrupt your whole customer service platform for several hours”
4. Remember - this is just the beginning
“Once your system is up and running this is not over!” Kulkarni added “You need to continuously organise check-ins and monitoring, and regularly prepare for your worst case scenario. That’s how you will get a seamless and flawless experience that will give you a competitive edge and keep your customers’ trust and loyalty intact”.
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here