Managing Ever-Shifting Customer Expectations

The pandemic has created some “cultural angst” among consumers who are more anxious about the trustworthiness and delivery of services.

As customers get more used to doing everything remotely — from working to ordering groceries — they also have new expectations for how they deal with companies. Colin Crowley, CX advisor for Freshworks, notes that the pandemic has created some “cultural angst” among consumers who are more anxious about the trustworthiness and delivery of services. 

“There has been a renewed focus among many customers on understanding what quality of service really means and investing in the quality of their customer interactions through more robust agent training, agent empowerment and customer-friendly policies,” he said. 

Freshworks was a sponsor of the Digital Experience Summit, which took place virtually October 25-26. Crowley hosted the session “Empower Customers & Employees with Fast and Personalized Support.” Earlier this year, Crowley spoke to Simpler Media Group on a similar topic, the role of AI in your organization and how AI can be incorporated to address the ever-changing nature of customer expectations.

Shifting Customer Expectations

Simpler Media Group: Has customer experience expectations shifted during the pandemic? If so, how?

Colin Crowley: Customer expectations have indeed shifted, partly with the pandemic but also partly without it. With rising technology and ever-faster delivery of services and products, customer expectations are one-way streets, always trending upwards. I think the pandemic has uniquely contributed to the fact that more customers expect companies to have a strong digital presence and [that] customers expect greater empathy from companies. 

SMG: As organizations are inundated with pitches for the latest AI solutions, how can decision-makers make sure to make investments in AI intelligently and strategically? What questions do they need to ask to make sure they are investing in a solution that can truly serve a purpose for their company?

Crowley: AI is tricky because it typically comes with a very high price tag and it’s a big black block. You don’t really know what you’ll get out of it until you try it, because the level of efficiency savings can be very particular to your business and your customers. The trick is to take an incremental approach and not feel [like] you have to swallow everything at once before you know what to expect from these systems and before you have built up enough institutional knowledge to manage them well.

I would rarely suggest a company jump into AI too quickly. For instance, it’s probably not wise to leap into the chatbot space with the most advanced chatbot imaginable. Instead, start with a more basic “answer bot” (or “info bot”) that simply fetches FAQ articles. Then try a more advanced chatbot with pre-built question-and-answer flows. Then try a chatbot with one API-based workflow that allows customers to actually take action on something through the bot. And so on and so forth. [Track] customer satisfaction and contact deflection along the way. 

By the time you get a $50k/year AI solution, you should be able to ask “What ROI do I expect to receive from using this technology and why?” with actual data from prior trial experiences — as opposed to hopeful theorizing.

SMG: Tell me about RPA: Is there anything you wish more people would understand about its potential in the workplace? How do you think it could impact the workplace in the future?

Crowley: RPA (robotic process automation) basically involves a bot mimicking the actions of a human as they click their way through a process, all triggered by human agency. So it’s a way to take routine, mundane, high-volume tasks and hand them off to a machine. RPA is therefore a bit like the digital equivalent of the conveyor belt. It’s less flashy than AI and less well-branded, but because of its simplicity, it’s much easier to execute, much less costly, and much less risky.

RPA is a great way to incrementally push towards more advanced solutions like AI — where the bot not only takes the action, but replaces the human in deciding when and what actions are taken. RPA can do a lot across-the-board at any organization to free employees from boring tasks and empower them to spend their time flexing their talents more fully and effectively. 

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