Customer service has traditionally been a dirty word (words?) both within businesses and outside of them. That’s started to change somewhat in recent years as more organizations begin to understand that customer service can in fact be a differentiator and customer hook, rather than just a cost center.
Indeed, Salesforce research says that 85 percent of executives with service oversight believe customer experience is a key competitive differentiator. And 80 percent of these executives believe customer service is the primary vehicle for improving the customer experience.
Yet, despite all we’re hearing about the value of the customer experience in attracting, retaining, and upselling prospects and customers, just 14 percent of those recently surveyed rate their performance vs. the competition and overall related to service as excellent. Meanwhile, about half (54 percent) say they have achieved moderate performance in these areas. And nearly a third (32 percent) consider themselves underperformers in these realms.
This is all according to Salesforce in its new State of Service report. The report is based on a survey of 2,600 global customer service professionals.
These individuals come from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the U.K./Ireland, and the U.S. Salesforce surveyed them in September of 2016.
The report also provides tips on how organizations can elevate the customer experiences they deliver. Providing a unified customer experience among different channels is important, Salesforce notes.
The CRM company also suggests that empowering customer service agents with the technology and tools they need can go a long way in improving the customer experience. That includes things like CRM and workforce optimization tools, and integrated dashboards, it says.
“Seventy-nine percent of service teams agree that a shared, single view of the customer empowers agents to provide consistency and continuity in every customer interaction,” according to the Salesforce report.
Salesforce also notes that leveraging technologies like predictive intelligence to deliver more personalized experiences can help businesses better meet evolving customer expectations.
Meanwhile a separate report, this one by Forrester Research (News - Alert), notes that “to get a full view of customer behavior, sentiment, emotion, and intentions, AD&D professionals must help enterprises leverage all the data at their disposal, structure and unstructured.”
Yet the “Forrester Wave: Big Data Text Analytics Platforms, Q2 2016” study goes on to say that most enterprises leverage just 40 of their structured data and 31 percent of their unstructured data to gain customer insights and make decisions about strategy.
Speaking of emotion, there’s a lot of talk about emotional intelligence in customer service these days. And now artificial intelligence can help businesses better understand the emotional state of their customers and prospects, Forrester notes in the 2015 study called “Artificial Intelligence Can Finally Unleash Your Business Applications’ Creativity”.
That, for example, can enable businesses to capture meaning by analyzing text and word semantics, mapping facial expressions and gestures to emotional state, and more.
This kind of thing is gaining interest by some of the world’s largest and most tech-savvy businesses. Indeed, Apple (News - Alert) recently acquired both Emotient, which uses AI to analyze facial expressions and read emotions, and VocalIQ, which uses deep neural nets to do speed recognition.
AutoGraph is another company that’s talking about emotional intelligence.
It relies on companies getting consumers to create their own profiles. It then uses those profiles, and its own neural net, to group the consumers into different personas. And that allows businesses to deliver more personalized experiences for customers, but on an automated basis.
The second largest supermarket in the U.K. is using the solution to better understand why consumers buy what they do. The Crown Estate that runs Regent Street, the Rodeo Drive of London, is also an autoGraph customer. The company also serves some very large communications services providers, among other businesses.
“In our case, we’re building emotional intelligence through trust,” says
Henry Lawson, co-founder and CEO of autoGraph.
“To gain emotional intelligence from a customer requires a basis of reciprocal communication,” autograph opines in a June 2016 blog. “We can already see the successful results of reciprocal brand to consumer relationships with Uber, Opentable, and Airbnb to enhanced service offerings. However, we are yet to see brands using reciprocal communications with consumers to delve deeper in the psyche of the customer to achieve brand ‘love.’”
Edited by Alicia Young