Abhay Prasad, Senior Director, Cloud Solutions, Aspect, discussed the evolution of consumer engagement and how business leaders can drive long-lasting customer partnerships in his presentation to Argyle's CX membership at the 2016 Customer Experience Leadership Forum in San Francisco on Dec. 15. In his presentation, "Consumer Engagement 20/20," Prasad examined how business leaders can bolster their CX levels and elevate customer service agents to the role of customer service "experts."
According to Prasad, 2017 represents the "year of disruption" for consumer engagement. Amazon, Netflix and other globally recognized brands are disrupting multiple industries. Meanwhile, Millennials are expected to become the largest spending demographic in the United States in 2017, and how business leaders connect with Millennials may dictate their companies' long-term success.
Furthermore, Prasad pointed out that 75 percent of the global workforce will consist of Millennials by 2025. This indicates that the Millennial workforce is growing, and business leaders who focus on finding ways to build long-lasting partnerships with Millennials now could reap the benefits of their efforts for years to come.
Understanding Millennials' customer service needs is crucial. If business leaders explore ways to foster trust with Millennials, these leaders may be able to help their companies stand out in a highly competitive global marketplace.
"We really needed to understand how Millennials' preferences for customer service varied from the customer service preferences of Baby Boomers and Gen X," Prasad noted. "Because the differences in [Millennials'] preferences are what will disrupt [industries]."
"We're failing consumers as a whole. Calling customer service still seems like a really unpleasant task."
Prasad also highlighted various statistics from a recent consumer engagement survey, including:
- 83 percent of consumers said they want businesses to provide personalized experiences.
- 60 percent of consumers noted that they would scream if they had to repeat information to a customer service agent.
- On average, 50 percent of consumers will switch from one brand to another at least once annually.
- 38 percent of consumers said they would rather clean a toilet than deal with a poor experience.
Ultimately, business leaders need to rethink the way that they connect with customers. By doing so, business leaders will be able to transform CX from a weakness into a strength.
"We're failing consumers as a whole," Prasad said. "Calling customer service still seems like a really unpleasant task."
Self-service represents a top priority for many business leaders, and for good reason. Providing self-service options empowers consumers like never before, as it gives consumers the ability to receive answers to concerns or questions at their convenience. Plus, self-service options ensure that business leaders can deliver positive experiences at any time.
"If your brand can deliver an experience that leads a customer to feel better about themselves, they will like your brand," Prasad pointed out. "Self-service is not really a want. It's a need."
How business leaders train customer service agents may play a key role in their companies' success.
"If your brand can deliver an experience that leads a customer to feel better about themselves, they will like your brand."
If business leaders offer comprehensive training programs to customer service agents, they can transform ordinary customer service agents into customer service experts. In addition, customer service experts can promote a company's brand mission in their day-to-day activities, helping a business build trust with customers.
Also, business leaders must provide customer service agents with the tools that they need to succeed. If business leaders deploy self-service options and offer customer support across multiple channels, they can empower customer service agents to become customer service experts.
"Today, our customer service agents are team members. … They are answering really mundane questions," Prasad stated. "We still don't have the processes in place to answer the mundane questions before a customer reaches a live agent."
In many instances, customer service agents are responsible for responding to simple customer concerns and questions. However, business leaders who empower customers will be able to make it easier for customers to receive expert support from customer service experts when necessary. These business leaders also may be able to provide personalized customer support from customer service experts.
"If you freed up the agents from answering the mundane questions, they would have a clear path to becoming an expert for customers," Prasad said.
Although business leaders may collect a wealth of customer data, it is essential for these leaders to understand the true value of the customer information at their disposal.
Business leaders who can access customer data in real-time can improve their chances of providing personalized experiences. Moreover, these leaders will be equipped to provide customers with outstanding support.
"'Know me' is not just about having all the right information … It is about knowing what a customer has done in the last 5 minutes," Prasad noted.
Abhay is passionate about building products customer-back and thrives on making the connection between a real-world business need and the technological solution that will solve it. At Aspect, he is focused on developing a customer experience vision for key industry verticals – one that can turn a customer service interaction into a memorable experience versus one that a customer would like to forget.
He has extensive experience in working with Fortune 100 companies to identify and quantify the business value of their collaboration/customer care investments. Previous avatars have included wearing the product management cap at a Silicon Valley startup as well as leading engagements at McKinsey & Company. Abhay is a graduate of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.