Not long ago I was reading Shep Hyken’s blog and was struck by his simple suggestion for measuring customer trust. Beyond the classic measures of repeat business, referrals and reviews, Shep proposed that whether or not customers use the word ‘always’ in describing a business – always responsive, always pleasant, always going the extra mile – was a telling indication of their level of trust.
Always. There’s a lot of meaning packed into that concise little word. It speaks of a commitment extending beyond being available and consistent. There’s a subtext of “through thick or thin” that is reassuring and personal. Therein lies the magic – it’s the ability to connect, time-after-time, on a human level that builds the trust and loyalty businesses can bank on.
Always in the age of DIY service
In 2014, we saw the web self-service surpass the phone as the first point of contact and a recent survey by Wakefield Research confirmed that 88 percent of American consumers have opted to use some form of automated self-service, including 86 percent of Baby Boomers. With human-to-human contact becoming an increasingly rare element of the service experience, how do businesses create automated experiences that build trust?
They need to infuse the predictability of an automated experience with the warmth and caring of a human encounter. Here are 3 steps to achieving always:
- Have a conversation. Dialog – saying hello, asking a question, clarifying understanding, providing an answer – is the hallmark of an effortless experience. Too often, automated systems force customers to adapt to technology – guessing at a keyword or navigating through a touchtone IVR maze to get to an answer. To achieve always, ensure your self-service solutions are conversational. Allow customers to speak (or type) naturally and embrace technology that can understand intent and help customers refine requests before delivering an answer tailored to a specific situation.
- Anticipate needs. Don’t forget your coat, your keys, or your dentist appointment. Looking out for one another is how human beings communicate we care. Eighty-five percent of American consumers say they’d like the companies they do business to proactively communicate with them – informing and reminding them to pay bills, reorder prescriptions, remember appointments and more. Earn customer trust by leveraging known preferences to reach out on the right channels at the right time to help them avoid issues.
- Make it easy. From holding the door for a stranger to picking up our dirty socks – the courtesy we show one another is rooted in making life easier for another person. When it comes to automation, it’s important to remove the hurdles that impede an effortless experience. Are your self-service channels contextually aware of recent customer engagement? Do you immediately confirm all self-service transactions – or leave customers wondering if they’ve successfully completed their task? Offer an easy, thoughtful user experience as an everyday expression of your commitment to always.
Automation is the answer for companies striving to cost-effectively meet consumer demand for anytime, anywhere service. Intelligent automation, infused with these fundamental human characteristics, creates experiences that build the kind of customer trust necessary for enterprises to thrive. At Nuance, we’re driven to fulfill our vision for a day when nearly all customer service is automated and consumers prefer it always.