With the ready availability of AI, data science and cloud technologies, we have the greatest opportunity yet to create better human experiences – we can make service more personal, more efficient, more effective and more empowering for the people receiving and delivering it.

In this article we breakdown the different elements of customer service and look at customer experience (or CX) through the lens of emerging technologies and the opportunities that exist to simplify it and to meaningfully change human experience for the better.

Customers demand personalised, convenient and exceptional service experiences

One of the cornerstones of delivering customer experience is to “exceed expectations”. Easier said than done in many cases, especially when your customers’ expectations are formed by the myriad experiences they have had with other services. While some services might be more complex and harder to deliver, customers do not distinguish – they just want simple and easy, irrespective of industry. For instance, they arrive at a complex financial service with the prerequisite thinking that “ordering a pizza is quick and easy, my hotel chain remembers my stay preferences globally, I can press a button when I get into my car, and it remembers the seat setting and my radio preferences – so I want that same experience here”.

With increased competition, customers now demand personalised, convenient and exceptional service experiences as a norm. On the flipside, the cost pressures of intense competition, market volatility and economic uncertainty are driving organisations to reduce operational costs, while continually improving services.

In other words, we need to do less with more. This is possible if we leverage the best of humans and technology, to strengthen the links between the human, service and the digital realm.

Seamless performance front, back and centre stage

Think about service as a well-orchestrated theatre performance.

In the crowd, front of stage, are our customers. These customers are seeking a great experience, something unparalleled by other experiences of a similar type, they want their “expectations exceeded” and, when there is an issue, they want their problems solved efficiently and effectively.

On centre stage are our employees (sometimes a digital employee as an extension of human CX teams.) They need the tools, knowledge, skills and experience to deliver a great performance. When they don’t have these, they are frustrated, disengaged, and don’t perform at their best.

Behind the scenes, backstage are the processes, partners, tools and data that make the performance work seamlessly. It’s imperative that everything here runs like clockwork (as it is outside of the control of our other front and centre stage performers when it doesn’t).

With the theatre metaphor in mind, consider all the touchpoints across your organisation and ask; where can technology improve the human performance? The answer is – everywhere.

Woman with hands in front connected by golden dots
The touch points of a connected experience includes joining the customer experience, employee experience and backstage operations and partners.

Customer experience – front stage interactions

How do we improve the customers’ experience? We can begin well before the show starts. We’ve got the data on previous performances; we know who’s who in the room and what they like.

AI can assist us here. By analysing vast amounts of data and learnings from customer interactions, AI algorithms can provide tailored recommendations, predict customer needs and proactively address issues. This level of customisation and anticipation can significantly improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Powerfully, we can start to predict how they may act in the future.

In Japan intelligent vending machines exemplify the potential of emerging technologies to transform traditional service models and deliver a highly personalised, customer-centric experience.

By integrating AI, sensors, facial recognition, and digital screens, these innovative vending machines offer a highly personalised and interactive experience. Picture this. You stand in front of a digital shop window in a subway and tap your credit card. Using biometrics and data-science to analyse your purchasing history, tailored product recommendations are displayed on virtual screens. This way they can showcase up to three times more options than traditional machines. Perhaps by harnessing other predictive tools they might use seasonal data to present you your favourite hot beverage in the winter, or cold bevvy in the summer?

The potential for AI to enhance personalised front-stage experiences across touchpoints like website, mobile apps, and physical locations is infinite - and not only limited to frictionless experiences.

Michael Pratt sitting down in a suit for his profile shot
Datacom's GM Hybrid Cloud Solutions Michael Pratt says elevating customer experience means understanding and meeting customer expectations, enhancing satisfaction, and creating memorable, seamless, and meaningful interactions at every step of the customer journey.

Conversational AI and virtual assistants can ensure customers are understood, and routed to the most effective team to have their problems solved or needs met. They can help employees to swiftly interrogate the knowledge base for specific product information, help them complete part of a time-consuming process faster, help them rectify a problem – perhaps even avoiding a problem through proactive issue resolution.

In this way, all the while technology is integrated and used to delight your customers, you are also gaining valuable data for customer insights and customer journey mapping. You are streamlining integration and human interactions that decrease costs and increase the delight-drivers that create better experiences – not just for customers, but for employees too.

At Datacom we have services to assist you in mapping the customer journeys and understanding and designing exceptional experiences through meaningful and effective connections. We want to help organisations move from transactions to experiences that are human, easier, personalised and trustworthy.

Employee experience – on the stage

In any organisation, our employees are the hero of the performance. They show up each day and are typically keen to do their job to the best of their ability. They want to collaborate, learn and grow with their colleagues, and ultimately see benefits from their efforts. The “fruits of their labour” if you will.

Why then are 25% of employees disengaged? And 48% quote “stress” as one of the negative emotions felt at work? 

It’s hard to deliver an exceptional front-end experience when you’re drowning in back-end manualised tasks, ducking and diving between disconnected legacy applications to extract data, or struggling to get the information you need out of the knowledge base fast enough.

An organisation’s inefficient ways of working can hinder employee experience, stress them out and put up barriers to their being able to add value.

On the other hand, an engaged employee with access to the right tools such as modern integrated applications and including AI to streamline workflows, automate repetitive tasks, and extract valuable insights from data; is supercharged to do their job more efficiently and effectively. For example, an automated contact centre workflow that directs calls to the right team member will create efficiency. Downstream that gives that employee more time back to make higher-value change - such as improving products or services, or doing something extra to directly impact service quality. This more meaningful work is the stuff that drives real employee engagement – and that which AI can never replace.

Humm, an award-winning fintech company, partnered with Datacom's Experience Practice to enhance their customer and employee experience. Datacom helped Humm optimise their CX management platform, streamline processes, and introduce Emm, a virtual assistant. In less than one year later, Emm handles 30% of customer interactions, providing efficient self-service options. This digital transformation has led to a 14% reduction in cost to serve, improved customer satisfaction with more assistance channels, and increased agent engagement exponentially.

Backstage operations and partners

It’s not easy modernising legacy applications and systems, or integrating systems and processes with third party partners and suppliers. However ultimately these elements influence customer experience – and need to be well organised and understood.

Nearly 80% of businesses in Australia and New Zealand view customer experience (CX) as a key competitive differentiator but many of those same companies are facing significant challenges with their customer strategy.

Failure to deliver on customer experience has a massive opportunity cost: in Salesforce’s ‘State of the Connected Customer’ research, 80% of customers stated that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services and 57% claimed they had stopped buying from a company and gone to a competitor that provided a better experience.

Frost & Sullivan whitepaper commissioned by Datacom identifies the top five challenges preventing companies from executing successful customer experience strategies, including the inflexibility of legacy systems, and barriers to successful technology integration and customised solutions.

It’s hard to deliver an exceptional front-end experience when you’re drowning in back-end manualised tasks, ducking and diving between disconnected legacy applications to extract data, or struggling to get the information you need out of the knowledge base fast enough.

This underscores the need for strong, integrated behind the scenes foundations such as modern processes and infrastructure to keep an organisation service delivery running smoothly.

As your customer base grows and demands increase, AI powered solutions together with cloud can be utilised to handle the increased workload, without compromising on quality or speed.

For instance, if you’re a hardware store on a peak sales day like Father’s Day, the last thing you want to do is to lose customer’s at your online store because you haven’t got the website or e-store capacity to deal with the surge in demand. Scalability allows you to expand your reach, enter new markets and serve a larger audience without straining your resources, and whilst keeping cost and revenues aligned.

Elevating customer experience means understanding and meeting customer expectations, enhancing satisfaction, and creating memorable, seamless, and meaningful interactions at every step of the customer journey.

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