While digital transformation and technologies like chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) remain top of mind for improving and innovating customer service processes, many companies approach transformation haphazardly without understanding how new technologies will impact the customer and the organization. To meet evolving consumer expectations and become more customer-centric, businesses must create a cultural change through extensive communication, consultation and training.
Despite rising pressure to leverage technology, technological transformation is a gradual process, involving modifications and changes to existing systems. To successfully implement new processes that benefit the customer experience, it is essential to adopt agile operations with a holistic approach toward transformation and secure leadership buy-in with ongoing support. Agility requires collaboration and interactive communication rather than strict planning and rigged documentation. Introducing flexibility into an organization creates a nimble environment for new strategy to develop. Tips for implementing technology with the customer at the core include:
#1 Define the Customer Journey
To gain a deep understanding of the consumer, customer journey mapping identifies improvement areas and opportunities for innovation within the customer experience. Four steps to creating a customer journey map include:
- Create customer personas: Leverage relevant data to precisely describe a typical buyer who represents a segment based on attributes like demographics, professional situation, customer problems, values, etc. Then, develop a unique customer journey map for each persona.
- Outline the individual touchpoints: Be sure also to detail the communication channels in each scenario. Considerations include: How are customers aware of the product? Where and how are customers looking for more information? Where and how are consumers purchasing the product?
- Define customer interactions: Understand the things and people that consumers encounter on their journey, whether it is a support representative at a service center, sales materials or a product video on a website.
- Detail the feelings of customers at the touchpoints: Does an online product description appeal to consumers because it seems to address their exact needs? Are customers feeling frustrated with how their issue is handled when they contact a service center?
#2 Incorporate Design Thinking Principles
The goal of Design Thinking is to work collectively rather than using a single view to bring change and develop solutions that are valuable to consumers. This framework helps organizations introduce new technology, processes or ideas with customers at the core. Design Thinking involves:
- Using customers to gain insight: Empathize and speak to customers and employees to cultivate a deeper understanding of the problem or issue.
- Framing the problem: Clearly outline the problem, indicating what you are trying to achieve.
- Working as a team: Utilize knowledge from across the company or industry to share ideas and views from different disciplines. Encourage practices such as the self-organization of teams, conveying information through face-to-face conversations and regularly reviewing, and as appropriate, adjusting the behavior of the team.
- Creating a prototype: Develop a solution for a real-life target audience. The idea is to gradually change the course of the entire company by piloting projects to transition practices.
#3 Collect Feedback and Explore Solutions
After applying Design Thinking principles, gather feedback from the intended customer base by actively testing the product or service. Utilize the information customer service representatives gather from thousands of day-to-day interactions to gain valuable insight into how consumers respond to changes. Layer in the human element to contextualize data and make improvements.
By listening to the voice of the customer, customer service teams can identify what new processes could be useful and uncover unanticipated issues. Armed with customer feedback, executives can filter out initiatives that do not make sense for the target audience and focus on identifying solutions that will overcome critical challenges. Rather than rushing to implement digital transformation, companies can accurately frame the problem and identify solutions that meet customer needs.
By integrating customer journey mapping, Design Thinking principles and collecting feedback along the way, companies can determine if digital is truly the right solution for customer service innovation. By approaching transformation with the user in mind, organizations can implement technological changes strategically, successfully meeting the expectations of the market.