Authored by Ankur Das. Co-authored by Rajesh Phillips.
A positive customer experience throughout a product lifecycle has proven to result in higher purchase rates and increased revenue. A critical capability to ensuring great customer experience is having expertise at every touch point, regardless of it being digital, human--or even better--a hybrid customer interaction.
One issue the increase in remote work has brought to the forefront is that sales, services, and support teams need to shift delivering their expertise from a traditional work environment to a home office set up. Despite the current conditions, customers still expect highly specialized knowledge to be shared with them “as and when” they have the need for them. These interactions can arise throughout the product acquisition and usage lifecycle--e.g., online research product evaluation, RFI / RFP processes, reference checks, service desk tickets, renewals, migrations, and even for product end-of-life. Each of these point-in-time scenarios impact areas that progressively build or break the case for your product and service.
One constant across the lifecycle is the need for “expertise”, which often requires existing skillsets to be modified and enhanced quickly to adapt to the “new normal.” The most effective way to develop and deliver expertise to the customer at the point of need is to augment human interactions with digitally enhanced content and interactions. From a customer point of view, human and digital channels are still too often separated--think about a phone call versus an AI chat bot--but moving forward a responsive, hybrid approach can be delivered through what we call enhanced expertise.
Exposing the expertise – where it really matters!
Customers are demanding better ways of engaging with a focus on ease-of-use, near-instant information and self-service capabilities with minimal or tailor-made human interventions. In other words, the human interaction must be enhanced through digital channels without losing the expertise that often times only a well-trained employee can deliver.
Unfortunately, many organizations have yet to master the digital channel, especially in addressing the scenarios where expertise can be made readily available in the most transparent of ways. One constraint seems to hover around the indecision on the amount of human intervention that is required to have an effective digitally enhanced channel.
The human + digital hybrid approach can address the following:
- Pin-point identification of where the customer needs human intervention in their journeys – evaluation, comparison, conversion, after-sales and renewals, etc.
- Enabling easy-to-use self-service functions which are powered by contextual and timely up-to-date information.
- Augmenting the human intervention with fast and relevant digitally enhanced expertise.
For the above to be a success, organizations will have to evolve their digital channels to be effective “force multipliers.” The digital outreach has to be powered by multiple options which provide a seamless multi-channel experience to the customer. The result is effective “Expertise as a Service”.
The following options should become the focus areas for organizations to enhance their digital effectiveness:
- Availability of chat bots (contextual).
- AI-enabled crawlers on customer reported issues recognize patterns and cluster them with similar issues. With a workflow-driven content generation process, support and engineering teams can use these patterns to generate FAQs which are much more meaningful.
- Availability of contextual FAQs right at the point of usage.
- IVRSs can be adapted for FAQs (categorized by often reported issues).
- Online documentation containing comprehensive customer journey related stories and experiences.
- Account management and support teams equipped with customer usage “maps” (e.g., typical flows, load stats, issues faced.) which bubble-up correlations with usage to issues.
- Autonomous support assistants to package Issue related supporting collateral (logs, configs etc.) for logging a ticket in the bug reporting system.
- Internal and customer-facing dashboards providing analytical insights on faults, loads, prescriptive actions, etc.
- Segmenting the product to optimize customer journeys belonging to identified segments.
- Online forum and/or community for shared customer experiences and tips.
- Streamable training kits for customer orientation on upcoming features.
The IBM Security MaaS360 with Watson experience – embracing the digital tenets and setting the gold standard
MaaS360 has a history of being an intuitive product for evaluators and customers alike. The MaaS360 journey begins with an intuitive and simple to use Quick Start Portal which allows one to create a tenant on the MaaS360 SaaS instance and get into implementing OOB policies quickly. Broadly speaking, it becomes a matter of guided selection steps – Choice of Platform (IOS, Android, Windows), Security options (Policy driven, default policy availability) and further Enrollment configurations, which enable her device to be managed by MaaS360.
This customer journey has in-situ contextual assists, which provide detailed information and directions to make the experience as seamless as possible with minimal human interactions. Within a short duration, the prospect or customer can expect to be on-boarded onto MaaS360 device management platform and value-added services. For clarifications during trials, conversions from trials, issue support or renewals, a well drawn-out process enables connection with online support or account managers who bring their expertise to the table for providing speedy resolutions.
The human factor in digital world – ecosystem play
No matter how advanced your digital channel is there are avenues where human interaction is still expected. Most products do not operate in a silo and there is a huge opportunity for an ecosystem play for a product to coexist or integrate with other critical products and platforms.
Digitally enhanced human interaction with customers is no longer an afterthought. With the backdrop of the new normal, when customers are getting used to remote sales and service interactions, digital assets provide a strategic shift towards timely and relevant expertise. Customers value expertise which provides meaningful solutions to their business scenarios and digital tools accompanied with human partners are the perfect mix to continuously enrich the customer experience throughout the lifecycle.