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  We spoke with veteran customer experience advocate, novelist, and speaker, Shep Hyken about customer experience (CX). As outlined in his new book The Convenience Revolution, Shep believes that the customer experiences that are most productive and memorable are the experiences that are convenient for the customer. We took a deeper dive into the current state CX, and what areas of the customer experience businesses should focus on. Below are Shep’s thought’s on CX.

CX and Technology

Technology is great but not if it gets in the way of a great customer interaction with your brand. In fact, many companies are starting to realize that technology isn’t the ultimate solution and they’re bringing people back into the equation for the human touch. Smart companies have come to understand that relationships can get lost to technology and they’re trying to create that human connection with their customers. Technology does have value when it supports the customer in some way. Smart support centers recognize that Artificial Intelligence and other technologies can better aid the agent while they are supporting a customer. The agent knows how to exactly phrase the question to get a great answer rather than have to flip through screens, click and search. The result is better, personalized answers. New call-to-action You can create a predictive model based on what a customer will ask based on what thousands of other customers have asked. Businesses will know what best products to suggest to them based on that data. It really creates a great opportunity for personalization and a better experience overall.

Happy Customers Have Choices in How to Engage

Sometimes we’re giving customers choices so that they can do what they want online themselves. Years ago airlines gave the power to the customer. Buy online and check in online. But how did they get customers to start using it? They needed to be trained and incentivized with extra bonus miles. They created a situation for customers that was better than having to pick up the phone, call, wait for an agent and then interact. The new system would remember customer credit card information as opposed to talking with an agent who always needed the card information. Everything was easier, faster, quicker. But they still give the customer the choice. Companies today need to think about where they can give customers a choice. There may be several solutions. In any situation what you want to do is eliminate friction. Once you show customers the quickest way to get answers and resolutions, they’ll continue to go back to what’s easiest and has less friction.

The Human Factor is Huge When it Comes to Convenience

If a customer can’t get to a human support person fast enough, it’s not good. Companies like Amazon have built great self-service systems You can’t get a human right away but if you can’t find your answer online, a rep will call you quickly. Not every system will be great for every customer, however. There is a demographic that would rather do things digitally and even they recognize that when they can’t get it done digitally, they have to fall back on the human factor. They’re happy when they don’t have to wait on hold for an extended period or are offered the call back feature when a wait is required. The company can even ask for the best time to call the customer so that it’s more convenient. It’s all about making it more convenient for the customer.

Convenience Saves Customer Time and Effort

The support center is not only trying to serve a customer with a problem, or answer a question, but also creating the brand perception that the customer has of the company. It’s vital to create confidence that the customer has with the business. But how do you do that? Number one—support them well. Number two—support them efficiently. The shorter the time the business keeps the customer engaged, the better. Convenience is about creating a situation that saves the customer effort and time. As a customer goes through the customer support world, how fast they can get to an agent is a convenience factor. If a customer logs on to the website, and a chatbot opens up right away and starts engaging with that customer, that’s convenient. If the chatbot is smart enough—and there are some out there that are—it will decline to answer a customer’s question based on the tone of the responses so it will seamlessly flip that customer to a human being. The customer doesn’t even know what’s happening but it’s a technology that’s been created that is convenient. When a company can use voice recognition to recognize who the customer is, and then authenticate the customer, rather than having to ask them questions about their identification, this is a more convenient situation. There are so many ways to add convenience into the customer support situation.

CX Convenience and Customer Confidence

Average handling time is important. As are first call resolution and customer effort. The overriding question is: How easy was it to get a solution? The most important metric at the end of the interaction is whether or not that customer feels completely confident about continuing to do business with that company. New call-to-action For example, Domino’s Pizza has evolved from taking only phone orders years ago to a listing of ways to contact them today on their website—none of which involve a phone. But each one of those ways creates a positive experience based on what the customer wants to do. All the different channels just provide different ways to make the customer happy.

Will 2019 Be the Year of Convenience?

Smart companies will learn that convenience enters the picture when there is less friction in customer touchpoints with your brand. Things like duplicate paperwork, bad technology, wait times and poorly trained employees are obvious examples of friction. There are many others and it's critical for businesses to ask how they can smooth out their engagements with customers because that's what will keep them coming back to do business with them again. In 2019, companies need to create solutions that don’t compare themselves to the competition but rather what customers like. It’s important to note that what you think your customers like may not be what they actually like. Be sure the customer agrees with what you think is right and you do that through experimentation, focus groups, and other learning. There’s probably not one solution that’s perfect for everyone, but you can get a pretty good idea about what works for most. Shep’s focus is on delivering amazing customer service, customer engagement, managing the customer experience and creating customer loyalty. He is a hall of fame speaker (National Speakers Association) and a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author. He is also the author of The Convenience Revolution, a book about how to deliver a customer service experience that disrupts the competition and creates fierce loyalty.

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