Digital transformation has revolutionized the way people discover new products, share information, and communicate with each other and with the brands they love.
Consumers are also more empowered than ever to solve their own problems whenever possible. Companies like Starbucks, Lyft, and Airbnb that allow self-service within their apps have trained their customer base to seek out the services they want, when they want them.
This shift in consumer behavior has both complicated and lengthened the buying process. That being said, a well-implemented digital self-service strategy can not only help set them apart from competitors but deliver long-term ROI and increase customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, when you invest in self-service solutions like automated agent experiences and modern call center technology, you’re investing in customer experience.
Automation for Customer Experience
Customer experience automation refers to any technology that helps customers complete common tasks to improve their interactions across different touchpoints, which can include quicker response times, streamlined processes, and the incorporation of value-added features.
It’s no secret that delivering an exceptional customer experience is critical to a brand’s success in the long term. In part, this is because today’s buyers crave connected experiences that offer effortless handoffs and interactions, both inbound and outbound. Let the numbers speak for themselves:
- 86% of buyers will pay more for a better CX.
- In 2019, one in every four customer interaction was automated through AI and machine learning. This number is expected to reach 40% by 2023.
- 81% of business leaders claim that intelligent automation enhances the customer experience due to faster response times.
But contrary to popular belief, customer service automation isn’t about replacing people entirely. After all, algorithms are only able to do what they are programmed to do and can’t offer empathy the way a human can.
Instead, the goal of offering an automated agent experience is to enhance your reps’ productivity by automating the tedious tasks that slow them down. With automation, your human agents can spend more time addressing complex inquiries and resolving issues behind the scenes.
Additionally, automation technologies allow you to monitor business processes more closely and collect data so you can fine-tune workflows and continue to improve your CX.
Why Self-Service in CX Matters
The value of customer self-service in the digital age cannot be underestimated. It’s no longer a “nice to have,” but a necessity to deliver a positive customer experience.
With global consumers growing increasingly tech-savvy, self-service allows businesses to offer online support to their customers without requiring any interaction with a customer support agent.
In fact, most people prefer self-service over speaking directly to a representative or using social media and live chat for support. And the majority of customers now expect a company website to feature a self-service application.
The most common types of customer self-service include knowledge bases, FAQs, and online discussion forums. But what’s driving the demand for these resources?
Firstly, these tools allow customers to troubleshoot their own issues and resolve them without having to reach out to your customer service department. Using AI coupled with multimedia content delivery, customers can receive customized, feature-rich information that will help address their concerns and solve their problems.
Moreover, self-service can drastically reduce operating expenses and generate business revenue. Over time, the cost of self-service applications will be much less than using live agents to handle the same number of inquiries.
Ultimately, a self-service portal gives customers the power of choice and convenience, and it helps improve their digital experience with the brand.
Improving by Following CX Trends
The most important CX trends to be aware of in 2021 (and beyond) involve replacing outdated applications with modern software.
Advanced call center technology, for example, is infused with elements like natural language processing, machine learning, and other types of AI. And because they’re often cloud-based, advanced call center technologies give organizations the agility and scalability they need to swiftly adapt to evolving consumer preferences.
These technologies also contain distinct technological capabilities not found in older applications. This functionality can help motivate agents, streamline their operations, and provide customers with channel choice.
Examples of call center technology include:
- Chat Bots – With the ability to deploy across a number of channels, including social media and online chat, bots are an AI-powered technology that expresses information through text-based chat and uses a combination of natural language and buttons to advance the conversation.
- Video chat – Although video conferencing isn’t necessary for all interactions, it can be a great way to create product demos and connect with customers on a more personal level.
- Automated agents – The automated agent experience helps facilitate problem-solving efforts during customer interactions, often using natural language processing to listen and interpret issues.
Today‘s customers are not just ready for self-service and automation; it has become their preferred form of support.
Nevertheless, your self-service offerings are only effective if you make them easy to use. To achieve this, your self-service portal needs to be highly organized and optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile users.
When self-service support is done right, customers can find the information they need right away, reducing the number of inquiries your support team receives and leading to a better customer experience.
To ensure you’re investing in the right areas and are aligned with customer feedback, check out the 6th Annual Alvaria Consumer Index report.
Ryan Walsh. As a Product Marketing Specialist, Ryan is responsible for communicating the capabilities and benefits of Workforce Engagement Management tools and their everyday applications to Contact Centers. He is passionate about helping customers understand how to better allocate their agents and resources to optimize the holistic health and performance of Contact Centers small and large. Prior to joining Alvaria, Ryan worked as a Multimedia Technician at the University of Illinois, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising. He also has experience working in Production and Global Account Management for Energy BBDO, a large advertising agency in Chicago.
E-commerce marketplaces have become more than third-party platforms
By Luke Trayfoot, CRO, MANGOPAY
E-commerce marketplaces have become an essential driver of e-commerce growth. As found by Ascential in their annual Future of Marketplaces Report, by 2027, third-party sellers using marketplaces will capture 59% of global e-commerce sales. A trend accelerated by the pandemic. Marketplaces are helping more brands cater to the ever-changing needs of consumers.
As businesses are continually being challenged to provide a seamless shopping experience, marketplaces can support this venture. Without the added costs of warehousing, supply chain and logistics for additional products, marketplaces can help to alleviate some of those pressures, especially as consumer demand grows.
Now, marketplaces need to further evolve their offering through payments infrastructure, whilst remaining compliant with payment regulations.
The marketplace offering – lowering barriers to entry
Beyond access to the best deals, seamless checkout and quick deliveries, marketplaces also exceed consumer expectations for an intuitive one-stop shopping experience. Through marketplaces, retailers can continue to evolve their proposition, collecting data on what their customers want and need and continually refining their offerings at the right time and in the right place (web/app).
Marketplaces can also support businesses entering new markets or competing with bigger players in their respective fields. Entering a marketplace network allows small businesses to quickly gain influence, benefiting from larger audiences and quickly generating high sales volumes.
With multiple sellers, many with an international presence, implementing a sophisticated payments environment is much more complex than building one for an e-commerce website. Trading globally has different rules and regulations to adhere to per country which means payments environments must be multi-layered, accepting various forms of payments, which can be an inhibitor to businesses scaling at pace. Marketplace’s innate customer-centredness must be maintained end to end, including the purchase journey, so a sophisticated environment is essential.
Building the right payments environment
A crucial part of the customer experience, it is important that merchants provide a choice of payment methods at checkout. As payments have evolved, marketplace operators should consider what options they provide to sellers, and subsequently, their end consumers.
The number one expectation is of course payment security, which is a key step in building a long-term relationship based on trust. Increased control points, however, generally means more friction being introduced into the payment process, so this is a balancing act.
As the retail landscape continues to grow, so does competition and as new players enter the market, businesses must find new ways to innovate, and the creation of payment options is one of the most important avenue to do so.
Considering regulation at every step
Increased marketplace activity has led to the introduction of regulation for the platform economy. In the UK, HMRC has implemented changes to VAT reporting requirements for digital marketplaces and their third-party sellers, especially for overseas sales. Across Europe, KYC (Know Your Customers) regulations intended to protect customers from data breaches on a marketplace and identify the persons (legal or natural) with whom the marketplace does business, as part of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing directives, have also been enacted.
As online platforms continue to play an increasingly significant role, the implementation of the Digital Services Act supports creating a safer, online experience for citizens. This regulation enables the expression of ideas, communication, and online shopping by reducing exposure to illegal activities and dangerous goods. Regulation can seem extremely daunting, especially for those looking to enter the market. However, its purpose is to protect both the business and users.
Marketplaces need to work with payment infrastructure specialists that can support providing methods for local users, as well as options that are familiar and trustworthy for a global audience. Additional flexibility also needs to be built in to adapt to different demographics to ensure that a variety of consumers are appropriately catered for. If a brand wants to establish itself in a new market, varied payment methods are not a nice to have, but a must.
Despite the current economic climate, global e-commerce will continue to grow in the years ahead. Those that will be able to stay ahead of the curve will ensure that their customers’ experience is balanced with greater choice and varied payment options, in tandem with regulatory compliance.
The trends to expect in the future of work in 2023 through the lens of a CFO
By Eliran Glazer, CFO at monday.com
Not a week goes by without significant evolution in the world of work. The landscape is continuously evolving and these shifts can be analysed from many different perspectives..As it has been in recent years, the position of the CFO will continue to be paramount in spearheading essential business initiatives, communicating with employees and other stakeholders, and ensuring cross-company alignment and advancement. However, how will the role of the CFO evolve in 2023 and what can those involved in financial decisions expect in 2023?
CEO and CFO alignment is crucial for success in 2023
CEOs and CFOs know a company’s success can only occur when they work in tandem to improve organisational performance for sustainable growth. To continue to expand, the CEO and CFO will work together more closely than ever to guarantee company operation, efficiency, resiliency and guidance throughout times of transition.
With the market changing at a rapid speed, organisational agility is vital for continued success. When the CEO and CFO are closely aligned, they bring their areas of expertise to the table to drive crucial strategic decisions together so the organisation can adapt to a changing economic landscape.
This is even more applicable in the current macroeconomic environment and geopolitical tension, when every business decision has a significant financial weight. With 70% of boards of directors looking to accelerate digital business endeavours and strategies, finance leaders will have an integral role when it comes to ensuring sustainable company growth.
Investments in digital tech is paramount this year
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, teams have taken a more dynamic and digitised approach in collaboration to address remote work, across time zones, between offices and at home. For 2023, corporations should expect to see further investment in digital technology that will enable teams to have a more harmonised approach to the digital workforce. Finance leaders will play a substantial role in implementing the processes and structure by identifying the right tech tools needed for this approach. Due to this, CFOs must now be aware of the need to adopt digital technology to drive efficiency.
Based on research from a Gartner survey that polled CFOs in July 2022, 66% said they planned to expand their investment in digital technology in the next 12 months. Additionally,another 32% said they would uphold such spending – the most significant percentage of any spend category. To best serve hybrid workers, businesses will need to enhance not only the customer experience but also their employee experience and satisfaction through the support of dynamic and digital collaboration tools.
Proactivity & transparency in this era of change
During this unpredictable economic climate, proactivity and transparency from finance leaders are key for making decisions that are data-driven and staying agile. To stay agile, CFOs must actively drive collaboration and partnering across functions to position the enterprise to respond to the challenges. This requires finance leaders to ensure that employees are kept in the loop of strategic decisions pertaining to the company. This can only be done by regular updates to the employees about the company’s range of projected scenarios for the upcoming months and any planning adjustments.
To ensure success and resiliency in combatting today’s challenges, finance leaders must be proactive and transparent when conveying the business landscape. It is crucial that CFOs set realistic expectations and break down concepts so that they are well understood and clear for all employees within the company. Educating employees about financial jargon alongside the state of the global economy will also help them find their footing in these challenging times.
2023 marks a milestone in the evolution of a CFO
While 2023 may seem challenging for CFOs with this great responsibility, they have a unique opportunity to make a significant and positive impact. What is most important for a company to overcome the challenges in 2023 is how flexible and nimble they can be, which requires the CFO to be a crucial player in the company’s growth during these times.
The scope of the role of CFOs has changed over the years. It is no longer solely on how to scale a business, but rather how to focus on the efficiency within that growth. To facilitate opportunities, the role of finance leaders will continue to expand this year. By identifying ways in which the CFO role can produce results, support, and even lead other parts of the company, will stimulate more collaboration, communication, and, ultimately, success.
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