When customers reach out for support, it’s safe to say they’re looking for one outcome: a fast, simple resolution. And, assuming the business in question wants to maintain the customer and satisfy that need, they probably want the same. But how is the business empowering the customer to resolve their issue, or get the human help they need to do so? In our recent CX Panel Discussion, Chatbots Aren’t Enough, we asked CX Experts how they approach self-service vs agent assisted support, what role technology plays in both, and more. Hosted by our very own Maggie Faust, we sought input from Ana-Alicia Siqueiros, Director of Support at Peek, Nino Cavenecia, Founder of Customer First, and Tom Kirby, Customer Experience Manager at Huel.
When determining how to approach and design your own digital CX flows, here are five key components to keep in mind.
For the panelists’ full discussion, watch the event recording on demand.
1. Capture (and utilize!) as much data as you can
First things first—this piece is crucial in every step of the customer experience process, and even more so as you iterate and improve. If you’re an early stage organization, your data might be limited, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t learnings to be found. What common trends are you seeing from customers seeking support? What is required to resolve common issues? From the beginning, work to optimize your tags and create a taxonomy for categorization as it relates to pain points and customer friction, says Nino. But it doesn’t stop with the support team: Nino suggests connecting with your product team and other stakeholders to determine how you serve your customer base together. If the same issue is arising time and time again, is there a product related fix that would alleviate the problem? Data points will help surface the stories that will improve digital customer service.
[TL;DR] Accumulate data points and continuously organize and analyze to determine what issues can be eliminated, or at least be made easier to solve.
2. There is no one size fits all when balancing CX automation and human support
Customers expect different support and experiences from different companies. As Ana-Alicia puts it, we expect 24/7 (human!) support from our home alarm providers, but not necessarily from our grocery delivery services. Customer expectations, and companies’ approach to meet them, differ by industry, clientele demographics, business maturity, services offered and rendered, and more. Nino suggests starting with a vision or a goal and working backwards: what are you trying to achieve, and what technology or support do your agents need to succeed? But Tom cautions to not try to be everything for everyone: focus on a few key channels and do them well, rather than execute on many channels poorly.
[TL;DR] Identify what your unique customers expect of you and design support flows accordingly, then evolve as your business matures.
3. All strategies should start and end with the customer in mind
After all, it’s called Customer Experience for a reason. To get into the customer mindset, Tom recommends starting from the beginning: why did they pick you in the first place? If your service is intended to save them time in some aspect of their lives, seeking support for that service shouldn’t be a timesuck, even if it’s ultimately easier for your organization. Understand what customers expect from the business and look to match that, says Ana-Alicia, noting that personalizing the experience as much as possible can go a long way. So what does this mean for balancing technology-driven self-serve support with human service? Consider what the customer wants and strategize accordingly.
Customers want to be able to solve simple problems on their own, and quick
It’s 2022. We’re all accustomed to solving issues with a quick Google search (on that note, unless proprietary, solutions to common issues should absolutely be discoverable through search engines). Nobody wants to wait to connect with a human only to be sent a link with steps to resolve the pain point. This is one area where chatbots, often supported by FAQ documentation, can quickly and efficiently resolve countless issues. Nino refers to this as table stakes self service. But most importantly, he elaborates that the north star of improving digital customer service can come down to how self-serve the product is itself, and ensuring that the product works in an intuitive way for users. Consider how discoverable tips, solutions and reminders appear in the product, working cross functionally with the product team and other departments to ensure there aren’t extra steps involved to achieve simple goals. As an example, offer tooltips in the product, anticipating potential issues before they arise, says Ana-Alicia.
When it comes to deciding what problems you enable customers to solve on their own, Tom suggests identifying the common problems where human interactions don’t provide value. If you’re looking for a tracking link, or needing to change your password, you don’t want to have to wait for human support to achieve either outcome. Whether it’s through help articles, a chatbot interaction, or simple link on your site, eliminating friction when resolving simple issues is key. Want to go one step further than self-service?
Customers want to be able to connect with a human (quickly) when necessary
Considering there is no one size fits all approach, the desire or need for customers to connect with human support will vary drastically by industry, customer demographics, and more. When thinking about financial services, Maggie highlights that patrons expect to be able to easily reach a human for support regarding their money. And, especially when dealing with sensitive subjects like money or health, it’s crucial to give the customer what they want. Remember, by meeting expectations and aiming for customer satisfaction, you’re likely helping yourself and your team achieve company goals. For Tom and his team at Huel, they see increased lifetime value and longer customer tenure when customers interact with human support. He notes, though, that they’re able to offer this personalized touch because of what they worked to automate, resulting in freeing up agent time to focus on the human connection.
[TL;DR] Put customers at the center of your digital customer experience strategy.
4. To provide excellent support, you need excellent agents
This starts with hiring, but it doesn’t end there. Tom admits that their hiring process at Huel is extensive, and they’re consistently looking for culture adds over culture fit. Nino agrees that over indexing on nailing down hiring strategy pays dividends. He builds on Tom’s culture add concept and recommends vision fit, rather than culture fit: what is the company looking to achieve, and what can people different from the existing culture bring to the table to help an organization achieve that vision?
And it doesn’t end with hiring. Once you’ve got great people in the door, roll out the welcome mat. You’ve spent all the time to find and hire the right people, make sure they’re set up for success by surrounding them with the people and tools they need. Recruiting, training, onboarding, and continual learning are as important for your customers as they are for retaining your employees. Do this all, says Tom, and then get out of agents’ way unless they need you.
Maggie pointed out that Loris provides real time, interaction level coaching with our agent assist AI that suggests language and surfaces knowledge base content to agents in real time during customer conversations. This makes it easier than ever to keep best practices top of mind.
[TL;DR] Hire people that will propel business growth, and let them do what they do best.
5. Find technology that supports your unique need, and stay on top of what’s available in the market
As Maggie points out, the CX technology space can be very noisy; there are a lot of options out there, and each of our panelists have great insight into how to manage. Ana-Alicia highlights how the space is constantly evolving, and that leaders should be leaning into new vendors, mentioning that the best vendors will lead discovery calls in a manner that goes both ways, almost like an interview. Nino suggests that even early stage companies should start with some semblance of an RFP process: be intentional about tool selection, but don’t overcomplicate it. But in such a crowded atmosphere, where do you start? Tom highly recommends leveraging communities, like Support Driven (we’re big fans here at Loris!), where you can connect with professionals like yourself who have solved similar problems, or who are looking for more ideas on how to improve digital customer service.
[TL;DR] Stay ahead of the technology game by knowing what’s out there, but don’t lose sight of the needs you’re looking to meet.
Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, building and optimizing CX workflows takes time. Identify any quick wins—like analyzing existing data empowering your agents to brush up on some training—and then determine any long-term strategy changes you may want to make. And, if you’re looking for technology to assist (but not automate!) your agent workforce to improve customer conversations, we’d love to show you what Loris can do.