The Customer Engagement Transformation Conference ran from 8th-10th June 2021. It featured panel discussions, case studies, and interviews with CX leaders, with a focus on how organisations can work to transform and evolve their engagement strategies to keep pace and engage more closely with their customers.
RedEye attended the conference and summarised the key takeaways from those talks that were most relevant to the topic of customer loyalty. These talks were:
What has been the impact of the global pandemic on customer behaviours and priorities
- Harry Daniel, Customer Service Manager at The Gym Group
- Chandni Bhatt, Digital Customer Success Manager at Paperchase
- Craig Bridger, Customer Operations Manager at SES Water
- Mel Carlen, Head of Customer Service at AMEY
How AI and Automation Can Drive Better Customer Experiences
- Karine Cardona-Smits, Senior Analyst, Forrester
Customer Experience is more important than Brand
- Monica Shultz, Head of Innovation and Market Management at Zurich Insurance
Delivering Genesys’ Vision – Experience As A Service
- Ian Campbell, Sales Specialist Director at Genesys
From these talks, three key takeaways emerged which RedEye has explored in greater detail below:
1) Breaking down the customer experience journey
Consider online and offline experiences
When looking to improve the customer experience journey, retailers should consider both digital and traditional elements.
In How AI and Automation Can Drive Better Customer Experiences, Karine Cardona-Smits from Forrester said that to achieve the best results, retailers should use a blend of human and AI, reinforcing the omni-channel approach.
According to Karine, retailers should first identify the right place and role of AI and automation within their company before implementing it.
To help with this, Forrester have laid out six key steps:
- Map out the blueprint of your customer journey
- Use the “5 whys” to assess if you really need AI or automation
- Prioritise opportunities that benefit customers AND employees
- Identify the right tech for you
- Make emotional connection a requirement
- Align success metrics at the journey end-to-end level
Chandni Bhatt from Paperchase built on this concept in the talk What has been the impact of the global pandemic on customer behaviours and priorities.
She said in the aftermath of the pandemic, “retailers have to think about how they can work closer to really bridge that gap and have an omni-channel experience, making sure customers are getting the same service both online and offline.”
This can be achieved through digital and physical loyalty programmes, or shifting models which feature online and store exclusives to drive traffic to both channels.
Harry Daniel from The Gym Group also discussed this topic in the same talk. He said that in the future, customers will look for a more holistic approach from businesses.
Whilst they will continue seeking digital services, such as live chats or email ticketing solutions, customers will also want face-to-face conversations that are consistent with their online experiences.
This blended approach will ensure customers are connected to brands in more ways than one, improving their overall experience and therefore driving their loyalty.
Pin-point areas for improvement
Whilst it’s important to consider online and offline elements of the customer journey, retailers should also pinpoint specific areas for improvement.
In the talk, How AI and Automation Can Drive Better Customer Experiences, Karine Cardona-Smits from Forrester said that the end-to-end customer journey is complex and long.
To better understand this, retailers should map out all the visible and invisible parts of the customer journey, including anything that may enable or hinder customers’ experiences.
Next, retailers should identify the pain points within the journey, to analyse in greater detail and eventually improve upon.
Similarly, in Customer Experience is more important than Brand, Monica Shultz from Zurich Insurance said that often, people “mistakenly think [they] have to be perfect in all stages of the customer journey.”
Instead, retailers should be clear about the most important touch points and focus on where they want to over-deliver and get the basics right.
Using a focused approach will ensure you are delivering customer experiences with owned value and a creative competitive advantage to make you stand out from the crowd.
Standing out from the crowd in this way will help encourage greater customer loyalty.
2) Human interaction remains important
In her talk How AI and Automation Can Drive Better Customer Experiences, Karine Cardona-Smits from Forrester explained the equation for a good customer experience: Culture and mindset + Problem solving + Human touch.
She went on to explain that 60% of consumers want to be able to connect emotionally to another human being within the customer journey.
When looking to integrate AI and automation into a company, Smits explained that in order for it to be successful, it must have emotional capabilities to connect with customers on a more human level.
She referenced bank holding company Capital One as an example, who are developing the emotional intelligence of their AI assistant Eno. Capital One found that, once Eno had helped their customers, the top most texted phrases back to Eno included “thank-you”, “I love you” and other messages of gratitude.
These interactions were humanistic and highlighted the need for an emotional connection between customers and AI services. Generating these more meaningful connections will in turn encourage greater customer loyalty.
In What has been the impact of the global pandemic on customer behaviours and priorities, Mel Calen from AMEY said that the company assumed they would see more of a transition to digital channels over the COVID period.
Despite this mobile phones actually remain and continue to be their major channel of communication, – because customers want to connect with other humans.
Calen provided an explanation for this, highlighting how “when you go through lockdowns and people are isolated – especially if they were in small bubbles – that human connection to the phone, that trust, really helped that individual, as well as giving them the assurance that their problems would be resolved and we would get the right people out to help them.”
In the same talk, Sarah Brettle from Ford said that throughout the pandemic, “our customer experience division was actually really resourced as well. Our desire to treat customers like family is actually being evidenced through larger contact centres, so we will be having more human touch, as well as more digital.”
This reinforces the significance of human interactions in a post-pandemic world, where customers are finally allowed to communicate and connect with brands in physical settings.
Once again, this refers back to the omni-channel approach, where retailers blend online and offline channels to improve customer experiences and subsequently, customer loyalty.
3) Personalisation is key
One way to improve the customer journey is through personalisation.
In the talk What has been the impact of the global pandemic on customer behaviours and priorities, Chandni Bhatt said that during the pandemic, Paperchase customers were looking for more personalised experiences with their customer service team from the packaging to the cards, to the emotions they evoked.
This in itself, she explained, is value for money. Paperchase actually benefited from the fact that people couldn’t see each other during the UK lockdowns, as they were sending out more cards and found a new appetite for crafts during this downtime.
Notebook searches, for example, increased by 5% compared to 2019, indicating where Paperchase’s buying team needed to continue purchasing. Chandni explained how Paperchase used this to their advantage, creating content that they knew customers would resonate with.
Karine Cordana-Smits of Forrester also emphasised the importance of personalisation in her talk How AI and Automation Can Drive Better Customer Experiences.
She explored how retailers can establish a stronger connection between brand and customer experience.
Using the example of Starbucks, Karine highlighted how, by asking for customers’ names, the company makes sure they feel loved, giving off the impression that the brand is taking care of you as a customer.
It’s not just that asking for your name makes it easier for them to address you, they also give you the feeling they know you and therefore they personalise the entire experience.
In his talk, Delivering Genesys’ Vision – Experience As A Service, Ian Campbell presented Genesys’ “Experience as a service” model.
This aims to help companies to deliver personalisation at scale, executing proactive, personalised and context driven experiences.
Campbell explained how, today, retailers need to reach new levels of personalisation to treat every customer as if they were the only customer in the business.
This involves leveraging data from across the organisation and using advanced AI to anticipate peoples’ needs and improve their experiences.
Crucially, retailers should aim to achieve a 360 degree view and a comprehensive understanding of the customer blueprint.
Some imperatives of “Experience as a service” included showing customers that you know them, presenting them with answers, helping them before asking and not making them repeat themselves.
This could involve sending personalised emails with customers’ names in the subject line or providing them with a 24 hour chat-bot to answer their questions quickly and efficiently.
Wrapping it up
Three key takeaways emerged from the talks at the Customer Experience Transformation Conference. When retailers are looking to improve the customer journey they should take online and offline elements into account.
They should also identify specific pain points in the journey that they wish to improve.
Human interactions are still important after the COVID period and if retailers wish to use AI and automation they should ensure it has emotional capabilities.
Finally, personalisation is key to make customers feel loved and to win their loyalty.