By Drew Ianni
March 24, 2021

At CDX’s recent Accelerate event, Simon Harrison, chief marketing officer of Avaya, said we are in what he refers to as the “evolved experience” economy. “It’s changed quite dramatically and crept up on us in a short amount of time,” he explained. “We now have multiple devices in our everyday lives and the modalities that they support have also evolved, whether it’s touch, haptic responses or natural language understanding.” And all of that means that the “customer personas” that companies like his must focus on are themselves evolving rapidly, “based on…this combination of the devices and touch points.”.”

The Paradox of Customer Service

Joining Harrison for the conversation was Kelvin Dodd, SVP of managed services for Tsys.com, a global financial services and payments provider. Dodd described an interesting paradox that has rapidly evolved in customer experience: the rollout of various self-service automation technologies and platforms (chatbots, etc.) has resulted in nearly a one-third decline in conventional “general customer service” over the last 12-18 months. However, at the same time the company has seen nearly a doubling in its overall customer service volume. It’s seeing more a desire for talking to a real person, as customers become more sensitive to issues like fraud, declines, collections and chargebacks. ”When it’s an emotional tie with a sizable sum of money,” Dodd explained, “they want immediate answers. They want…reassurance from that agent [so] they can then feel at ease.”

Customer Experience Everywhere: Bots, Twitter & More

Both Dodd and Harrison say customers are more empowered than ever and have multiple channels to share (or complain about) their customer experiences. Bots have, of course, emerged in the last several years as an important tool for serving customers. But Harrison cautioned that it must always be “very obvious to the customer and…clear that they’re talking to a bot. Don’t pretend that it’s not a bot.”

What about customers voicing complaints and feedback on Twitter and other social media platforms? “There are organizations that can get 100,000 tweets in an hour,” Harrison explained. “And these posts need to be filtered and handled by customer service. And the measure of a really good social application is how well it enables a social network to do what it does best – which is let others have a say and let people that are involved, and perhaps fans of your brand, help answer some of those questions.”

In the final analysis, both the executives agreed, brands must understand that every customer touch point is a potential source of feedback and understanding. Tsys.com’s Dodd emphasized that “it’s all about the brand, and the values. We do a lot of work on brand awareness and not just in continuous improvement. Our employees understand and amplify exactly how that brand is portrayed in the marketplace at every touch point.” In today’s organizations, he said, every employee must act like a brand ambassador.

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