Companies invest into Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys and produce Net Promotor Scores (NPS) to understand how they are doing with their customer base. However, they miss out on the opportunity to actually take valuable real-time action within that process. As a frustrated customer, when I provide feedback, I expect the company to fix my issue immediately. In most cases, either the feedback is overlooked, or it is implemented after the customer has already left. Frustrated customers lead to companies taking a big financial and brand hit, especially with the ability to post to millions on social media.
NPS was invented in 2003, and while it worked OK in the past, it cannot meet the expectations of the modern customer. CSAT and NPS provide organizations with scores which allow them at some subsequent time – normally months or even years in the future – to initiate changes that may improve customer journeys. However, in today’s market, customers expect their issues to be addressed in real-time – and I speak here as a Millennial of the digital age anticipating rapid response and automated action from all my service providers.
I recently purchased a new 3-drawer filing cabinet for my home office from Amazon. Once I received my package, I put it aside so that I could assemble it on the weekend. On the next Saturday, I opened up the package, only to realize mid-way through that there were missing screws. Not wanting to deal with it at the time, I left the desk as it was. The next day, I received a survey from the Amazon vendor asking about the product and if I was likely to recommend the product in the future. I filled out the survey, mentioned I was missing pieces and that I couldn’t complete the assembly. After submitting the survey, I hoped to receive some sort of message telling me that the missing pieces would be shipped to me. By the following weekend, nothing came, so I went onto Amazon and tried to figure out the best way to get the company to send me the missing pieces. After trying for 15 minutes, I decided it was easier to return the filing cabinet rather than getting the missing pieces. In this scenario, the company had a week to review my survey and take action so that I would remain a customer. With real-time customer experience improvement, the company should be able to build journeys to understand when I may have had issues and address them. If the company had followed up with me shortly after I received the filing cabinet, they could have verified whether or not I was successfully able to assemble it. I could have notified them of the missing pieces when I started assembling it and they could have sent them to me to resolve my issue.
This rapid response and automated action expected by the modern customer – of whom I count myself amongst – can be achieved. It requires the combination of three distinct aspects of modern conversational AI technology: first, efficient proactive conversation management with the necessary high levels of customer engagement; second, intent classification models that incorporate Natural Language Understanding (NLU) so that customer input can be appropriately acted on automatically; and third, sentiment analysis, so that the intents can be handled with the right sensitivity.
I am pleased to say that my company ContactEngine applies each of these within an easily configurable interface into what we might call “Real-time Customer Experience Improvement (CXI)”. This means ContactEngine’s clients can address their customer’s concerns on the spot - as well as providing the data to drive subsequent customer journey changes.
As an example, to meet these customer expectations for real-time action, we recently moved a traditional CSAT survey for a leading US telco into real-time CXI. This involved having a seamless conversation with the customer from start to finish and addressing any questions or concerns as they arose. Since ‘Real-time CXI’ was part of an ongoing customer journey and is focused on helping the customer and not just surveying, ContactEngine maintained the 80%+ customer engagement of the previous proactive conversations (compared to the 30% of the previous CSAT survey). Then, through the use of NLU and sentiment analysis, ContactEngine either handles any issues directly, or directs customers to human or virtual agents.
As a result, those customers with issues, who, back in the old days of NPS would have just registered as detractors, with the issues they faced solved (maybe) many cycles later (and much too late to benefit them), now have their experience immediately improved. Plus, because of the speed of resolution, the root cause of their issue can be identified more quickly through daily reports of negative intents identified through NLU. This all leads to helping reduce customer effort, which in turn increases customer loyalty. As Gartner points out in a recent study, “Effort is the strongest driver to customer loyalty”.
Real-time CXI is also a great way to identify and action upsell opportunities – striking while the iron is hot as soon as the purchase intent appears. And who knows – if the filing cabinet company had had Real-time CXI in place, maybe they’d still have me as a customer.