Customers are indispensable assets for any size and type of organization. They require excellent products and services to build trust, remain loyal, and return time and time again. Failure to provide an excellent customer experience will threaten the survival of your organization. So, what is customer experience and why is it important? Customer experience is the direct result of a customer’s perception of your product, service, and overall company. This perception is driven by messaging, product/service quality, processes, follow-up, and interactions.
We are all familiar with external customers, those who purchase products and services. These customers have a very clear link to profit. Happy customers = increased profit and growth. But, equally important are internal customers – employees that depend on others in the organization for a product or service. The IT department is one of the most discernable internal customer service departments. IT is relied on for access to critical business systems to create invoices, manage external customer relationships, communicate with vendors and suppliers, and submit payroll. Employees also rely on IT for internet access, functional laptops, printers, and other essential hardware, and data security. Without the IT department, business operations would stall. Even though IT services are essential, IT cannot fall short when it comes to providing a high-quality customer experience. If internal customers have a mediocre perception of IT, they will quickly turn to shadow IT and external providers. IT will quickly lose control. Even more, feeling valued, informed, and productive are critical to internal employees providing an exceptional customer experience externally. Hence, impacting business success.
Gaining Insight into Customer Satisfaction
Each interaction is critical when it comes to customer experience. Therefore, maintaining a consistent and high-quality relationship can lead to the perception of satisfaction. Identifying weaknesses and inefficiencies with surveys is one of the most effective ways to gather insight into your customer’s perception of communication, responsiveness, and productivity. Internal customer surveys can be similar to external customer satisfaction surveys. Questions may include:
- How likely are you to recommend IT support to another colleague?
- How do you rate your experience with IT support?
- How easy was it to resolve your issue with IT support?
Once the information is gathered, be sure to pay attention to the strengths and weaknesses presented and implement an improvement strategy.
Customer Experience Improvement Strategy
IT organizations that successfully implement a customer experience improvement strategy achieve great reward. From higher satisfaction ratings to reduced turnover, and increased business profit, improving customer experience is a great opportunity for any organization. Simply recognizing the employees you provide services to as customers is an important first step.
Redesigning the IT organization to reap the benefits of customer-centricity requires three areas of focus:
- Understand your Customers Evaluate survey results and gain a full understanding of your customers. In order to redesign and modernize the customer journey, leadership and staff need to understand who they are servicing – their needs, pain points, and expectations. For example, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. When you deal with a service provider, what do you expect? It’s likely the same as what your IT end users want from your service – on-demand, quick, simple, and efficient – they want to get back to work quickly.
- Digitize Processes With modernization comes digital transformation. Customers have become accustomed to immediate and personalized service and this requires process automation supported by digital technology. Start by outlining the user journey for the services you provide. Standardizing repeatable processes with technology is a no-brainer especially when it comes to offering 24×7 service. For example, password resets should not have to wait for a human IT support agent that only works during business hours.
- Build a Strong Team Building a strong customer support team is critical to the customer experience. This does not necessarily mean more staff, rather skilled, empathetic, and patient staff that strengthen the service provided. Customer experience is not necessarily about what your support agent does, it’s about how they make the customer feel.
How Virtual Agents Can Help Improve Customer Experience
“Twenty-five percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020,” according to Gartner, Inc. Robots are interesting, but interactions with legacy, interactive voice response systems that rarely understand what a human is asking for has left many customers wary of automated technology, with most preferring person-to-person interaction. But, human support cannot always meet the demands of today’s customers – 24/7/365, real-time, rapid, and accurate support.
Virtual Agents can be used to successfully provide smart, easy, and fast service to customers. The difficulty is identifying the right points within your customer’s journey to augment with a Virtual Agent in order to continually deliver a seamless and quality experience. A true understanding of your customer’s journey, their expectations/needs, and the right Virtual Agent technology will allow for a successful partnership between your strong, human team and an AI-driven Virtual Agent. Interactions will feel natural, personal, and unified across all channels regardless of whether it’s a human or Virtual Agent in the driver’s seat.