4 points to be vigilant of to make your investments profitable 

Technology is a powerful lever for transformation when it is used for the service of business needs.

Recently, I received an email from my financial institution asking me to contact them about a duplicate transaction. Not finding a number to call on the email, I look for nearly ten minutes on their website the number to contact. When calling, I go through several minutes of pre-recorded messages. I enter my phone number to (probably) authenticate myself and I go through 3 menu levels to finally talk to someone who asks me for my phone number again.

She then asks me if I have tried to solve my problem on the website. I explain my situation and she informed me that I am not in the right department: she then transfers me to the “right people”. I then find myself waiting for almost 25 minutes, before the line is cut: it is now 17:00 and the service is closed for the rest of the day. I will have to call back the next day.

It could sometimes seem that technological tools are designed and implemented to make customers’ lives more complicated. Is that intentional?

Intention and impact should not be confused

Obviously, no one plans an experience like this intentionally. For many reasons, good and bad, there are often large discrepancies between the original intentions and the real impact on customers.

You may be investing thousands (or even millions) of dollars in new technologies, understanding why these gaps exist and especially how to avoid them is essential to ensure you get a return on your investments.

The real impact of technologies depends above all on how they are configured. Many of these tools (cloud contact center, chat, chatbots, CRMs…) can make customers more autonomous in solving their needs and greatly simplify their experience. But if poorly implemented or misused, they can become an obstacle, part of the problem rather than a solution. And all the Investments made is then lost.

Here are 4 points of vigilance and as many questions to avoid finding yourself in such a situation

Question 1: Have you mapped your current customer experience?

Mapping the existing customer experience implies representing the current experience of your customers. It is also a way to gain an in-depth understanding of the reality experienced by your customers and front-line teams. It also gives you an overview of key opportunities for improvement.

Skipping this step runs the risk of automating inefficient processes that:

  • Cause errors
  • Do not meet customer needs
  • Create frustrating deadlines and expectations

One of the best techniques for doing this inventory is service mapping (not to be confused with the customer journey), which includes both customer interactions and support activities that are not visible to customers.

Question 2: Have you defined your ideal customer experience?

You need to know where you are starting from, you also need to know where you are going. Defining the ideal customer experience is equally important. Mapping the ideal experience is the indispensable compass to guide critical decisions of any technology investment. It helps answer questions such as:

  • Which technologies and solutions to choose?
  • What features are essential?
  • Which ones are only optional?
  • What should be the implementation strategy?

Without a clear vision of the customer experience, it is not uncommon for technology to take precedence over business needs. That’s when you quickly start modifying your processes to adapt to the chosen solution.

It is also very common to find that the different teams involved in these projects have difficulty understanding each other. Mapping the ideal customer experience helps teams develop a common language that everyone can refer to.

Question 3: Have you assessed the impact of new solutions on the customer experience?

Have you completed an impact assessment of the new solution? Do you know how it will impact the customer experience at every stage? How will it contribute to your goal?
If the answer is no, how do you know that the proposed solution is what you need now?

Too often, the benefits of solutions are considered in a general and global way. It must be said that we are often bombarded with marketing messages that encourage us to do so. The same solution can have completely different effects in one environment or another. It is essential to understand what it will bring in your context.

Carrying out a simple impact assessment often makes it possible to see the contribution of each of the required investments. You can then establish a solid, personalized roadmap that will deliver benefits early and continuously.

Question 4: Have you involved your customers and employees?

If you respond with a negative answer to this question, this should raise a red flag.

Who is better positioned than the front-line staff and customers, to identify the issues that they are experiencing, discuss about their future needs, test and provide feedback on the proposed new features?
In theory, everyone agrees. It is in practice that the problems arise.

Lack of resources or lack of time, there is no shortage of good reasons. We then “put ourselves in the shoes” of the end users and “imagine” what they will need. This is a common trap, and it is easy to end up with systems that are not suitable: customers cannot do what they would like, employees are not able to answer the question, or it takes more time and effort.

The common thread: technology at the service of business needs

Here are 4 simple questions to ask yourself to secure a minimum of your investments:

  • Have you mapped the current customer experience?
  • Have you defined the target customer experience?
  • Have you assessed the impact of future solutions on the customer experience?
  • Did you involve your employees and customers?

These questions help you ensure that technology remains at the service of business needs, not the other way around.
With the technological offers that has exploded in recent years and the costs that have decreased, it is easy to rush to acquire new features, modernize its infrastructure or reduce its costs.
Nevertheless, investments and risks remain considerable. Asking yourself these questions can save you a lot of trouble and sleepless nights.

By Guillaume Delroeux
Guillaume is President and Leader in Customer Experience Practice at Promethée Consultants and helps organizations with Customer Relationship Centres make the most of their technologies to maximize their impact and create legendary customer experiences