Want to Elevate Experiences? Open Your Communication Channels

To remain competitive, companies should cater to both the employee experience and the customer experience.

When Julien Rio thinks about the best customer experience he’s ever had, he recalls shopping at Waitrose and Partners in London. He was short on time, and after asking the sales person for help, he was surprised to see the employee look the product up on his smartphone instead of going to a nearby computer. In a few seconds, the sales person found that the product was out of stock, but available in another store a few blocks away. He reserved the item and 10 minutes later, Rio was in the other store with the product he needed.

“What was so amazing about this experience is how seamless it was,” said Rio, AVP, International Marketing for RingCentral. “I didn’t have to wait, the employee was able to offer me a quick solution, and he even managed to build a personal relationship by chit-chatting. This prevented me from going to a competitor, whether it was another physical or online shop.” 

RingCentral is a provider of cloud-based business communication solutions based in Belmont, Calif., and a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s virtual Digital Experience Summit (DXS) Conference. During the conference, Rio presented the session, “Re-thinking CX in a Post-Pandemic World.” We spoke with him about how developing seamless communication between multiple channels can help improve both the customer and employee experience. 

Empathize for Better Experiences

Simpler Media Group: Thinking back on your roles in marketing and customer care, is there one overarching lesson you’ve learned about how organizations can deliver the most effective customer experiences? 

Julien Rio: Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. That is both the simplest and the most commonly overlooked rule. Technology, budget, programs, customer journey mapping — all these are tools to achieve better customer experiences but are worthless if you don’t know your customer. Whether in B2C or B2B, working with small companies or large enterprises, in the toys or tech industry, the rule remains the same: understand what your customers care for, what matters to them when making a purchasing decision, how they use your products and services, and which aspects matter most to them. You can learn all of this by researching, interviewing and spending time with your customers.

SMG: How have the expectations of customers and agents changed in a post-pandemic world and how do these changes impact today’s organizations? 

Rio: Twenty years ago, companies were in control, limiting customers to a physical address or a hotline number to resolve their issues. Today, customers have the power. They decide when to engage, which channel to use, and they can make things public via social media when unsatisfied. Companies have to adapt and offer flexibility. Be available on the channels your customers frequent, make it easy for them to engage, be transparent about response times and don’t transfer customers to a different channel for them to repeat everything over again.

From an agent perspective, the post-pandemic world is different. As the frontline, customer service representatives often face angry and frustrated customers, but have to keep smiling, even in a fast-paced contact center. With the pandemic, many reps have changed jobs or are now working remotely.

To remain competitive, companies should cater to both the employee experience and the customer experience. Give employees a career path and make them feel valued by using AI in the contact center to answer mundane questions and let them focus on more complex situations where their skills matter. Make internal communication and collaboration stronger to offer additional flexibility and hybrid work. 

For a better customer experience, merge technologies and teams to answer as a single voice regardless of the channel and ensure you’re available in the channels where your customers want to engage. 

Customer Interactions Are a Benefit, Not a Cost

SMG: Where do you think organizations are falling short when it comes to customer experience, and why? 

Rio: The general customer journey is often broken. As a customer, you think in terms of problems, not internal processes, and you want your issue resolved regardless of the channel you choose. But most companies don’t work like this. They ask customers to dial a different number, re-explain the problem, or transfer them multiple times until they get to the right person. Lack of internal communication channels make it difficult to help customers if the agent isn’t an expert on that topic. In order to resolve this, you need to think the way your customers do, breaking down your technology silos for better experiences.

SMG: Why do you believe organizations need to rethink the way they interact with and service their customers? 

Rio: Contact centers are often seen as cost centers and customer inquiries as expenses. Because each interaction costs money, we need to build more FAQs, encourage self-service, reduce the number of reps and make our interactive voice response systems more complex to filter the noise. This is the wrong approach. 

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