Digital transformation of customer contact – this is how you stay in the lead (5 steps)

Customer experience
Digitale transformatie

Digitization is turning the way companies and customers communicate with each other upside down. Only companies with a clear vision on the digital transformation of customer contact will take maximum advantage of the opportunities to strengthen customer relationships and keep customer services affordable. In this article we present a roadmap on how you stay in the lead.Many companies are committed to digitizing customer contact because it saves costs and because it offers enormous opportunities to improve the customer experience. Because customers are happier when they can easily arrange things themselves at any time of the day. And because a well-designed website is so much more relevant and pleasant than a letter.At the same time, the digitization of customer contact has a major impact on the customer relationship. In many cases digitization of customer contact leads to an erosion of the customer relationship and a loss of distinctive character. Because it is difficult to be distinctive in the digital domain and to bring the brand values ​​to life in a way that really resonates with customers.Smart companies develop a vision in time on how digitization of customer contact in their situation leads to strengthening of the customer relationship and lower costs of customer service. And they understand the best way to get there: which customer contacts do we digitize first, where do we maintain personal contact, how do we guide the shift in channels, and how do we ensure that digital contact still feels like a 'high touch'?Getting started with your customer contact strategy? Here is a roadmap:

5 steps towards a customer contact strategy

STEP 1 - "Start with the customer experience and work backwards""You got to start with the customer experience and work backwards ...", as Steve Jobs said. This applies to the development of a product or service, but certainly also to setting up customer contact. So the starting question: what experience does your customer want? And who do you want to be for your customer, what feeling should customers have from contact with your organization?The wishes of customers are currently changing rapidly. Customers expect self-service as an option, to arrange things in an easy way whenever it suits them. They expect response times that they have become accustomed to from doing business with the major internet companies. And attitudes to technology are changing rapidly. For example, see the figure below, which shows that many customers prefer to have an accurate bot quickly than having to wait for an employee.

chat bot vs real person

If you start with the customer experience and then work backwards, it is advisable to also develop a vision on the ideal customer experience at times when there is no contact. “What happens if nothing happens?” Do customers feel that they are in good hands, that they can contact you directly, that they cannot get a better deal from another company, etc. Unfortunately, this part of the customer relationship is often forgotten.STEP 2 - Determine the value of customer contact for both customer and organizationAn essential step in forming a customer contact strategy is determining the value of the various customer contacts.The value of customer contact can be determined from the perspective of the customer or from the perspective of the organization. The value matrix (see figure below) gives direction to the customer contact strategy.

Value for the customer versus value for the organization

Some examples:

  • Simplify - Contacts that are valuable to the organization but not to the customer, you do not want to lose them and must therefore be made as easy as possible. Think of passing of a move by a customer.
  • Eliminate - Avoid contacts that are of little value to both the organization and the customer. Think of phone calls because a letter is not clear. Such contact costs money for the organization and annoyance to the customer.
  • Direct to self-service - Contact moments that have a lot of value for the customer but not for the organization are ideally suited for automation. For example a customer who is looking for information about his insurance policy.
  • Encourage - There are contacts that are of great value to both the customer and the organization. An example is a consultation. As an organization you should encourage these contacts. Note, that does not necessarily mean that contacts have to be face to face!
Smart companies develop a vision in time of how digitization of customer contact in their situation leads to strengthening of the customer relationship and lower costs of customer service. And they understand the best way to get there: which customer contacts do we digitize first, where do we maintain personal contact, how do we guide the shift in channels, and how do we ensure that digital contact still feels like a 'high touch'?

STEP 3 - Determine the relationship return per channelOften, there a multiple channels available via which the customer can arrange the same thing. The question is how the different channels affect the customer relationship. Does it matter whether you report damage via WhatsApp or to have personal contact? In our consultancy practice, we often see that alternative channels are very similar in terms of functional effectiveness, but that they have different effects on the emotion in the customer relationship. Then it turns out that turnover among customers of an insurance company is twice as high among customers who report damage via the website compared to customers who have had personal contact with an employee. It is therefore necessary to have insight into "upside-metrics" such as conversion, customer retention and customer satisfaction for "competing channels". It requires the organization to have the customer database in order, so that these analyses can be made based on facts.

In our consultancy practice, we often see that alternative channels are very similar in terms of functional effectiveness, but that they have different effects on the emotion in the customer relationship.

STEP 4 - Identify the savings potential of channel shiftsDigitizing customer contact can lead to enormous cost savings. For a good estimate of the savings potential, it is necessary to take into account a transition period. Do not overestimate the savings, because practice shows that some of the digital self-service contacts will "escalate" to, for example, the original call channel.STEP 5 - Integrate the perspectives: business case and customer contact strategyBased on the four aforementioned perspectives, business cases are developed and the customer contact strategy is determined.Design principles are a useful tool in making a customer contact strategy concrete. An example of a design principle is "we only offer the possibility to submit an application via the online application form."For the most important contact moments, visualize which channel shifts are expected (for example: "in 2 years, 80% of contacts about relocation will shift from the call centre to the website ").And consider whether it is interesting to differentiate the customer contact strategy according to target groups, for example on the basis of Customer Life Time Value (CLTV). Are there customer groups that clearly represent a different value for your organization? Because they have been customers for years, purchase multiple products or have a lower cost to serve.FinallyDigitization offers enormous opportunities to structurally make more impact in the customer relationship by making it easier, more relevant and more personal. Those who remain in the lead with a clear customer contact strategy will benefit the most.Would you like to have a no-obligation second opinion on your current customer contact strategy? Contact us!

Maties van Voorthuizen
Consultant
Maties.vanVoorthuizen@flowresulting.nl
06 - 28326933
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