Don’t make a fish climb a tree: customer preferences matter.

Published: May 19, 2017
Author: Gordon Littley


Don’t make a fish climb a tree: customer preferences matter

I had a group of friends over recently and we decided to get pizza. Instead of picking up a telephone and waiting for someone to take our order, I used my smart home system. All I had to do was tell the device which pizzas we wanted and half an hour later we were eating them. It was great! Technology made it so easy for us to get what we wanted.

But a couple of my friends weren’t so impressed. They saw it as a prime example of “technology gone mad”. They weren’t at all comfortable with the idea of ordering takeout using a smart home system — they said they’d rather just call it in. It didn’t matter that automation was the easiest and quickest route to our goal; it’s not a route they’re ever likely to take.

One size doesn’t fit all

Automation might be the quickest, most efficient means of achieving a customer’s “job to be done,” but it doesn’t mean people will like, or use, it. No customer journey has a one-size-fits-all solution. When you’re designing your CX strategy, you need to think about your customers’ preferences.

Your millennial customers may love the idea of conversational commerce and buying products via social media. They may even feel more comfortable conversing with a chatbot than a real person. But not everyone grew up using a smartphone. Will all your customers be confident using this kind of technology?

Think about online banking. Today, you can make a payment with a single tap on your smartphone. But I bet you know plenty of people who wouldn’t dream of using an app to make a payment or check their account. An extreme case was an old friend of mine who insisted on paying his bills in person at the local branch of his bank —he didn’t trust telephone or online banking. Then, of course, his bank started encouraging customers to use its automated services, closed some branches and reduced the number of tellers at others. Did my friend bite the bullet and embrace online banking? No, he left and took his business elsewhere.

If you force your customers to use a route that suits your preferences instead of theirs, you run the risk of losing them completely. You need to gauge what approach will keep most people happy, whether everyone else can be encouraged to follow suit, or whether you need to offer alternatives.

Uncover your customers’ preferences

So how can you uncover your customers’ preferences? The answers lie in all the data you’re now able to collect on your customers. You get data from your customers every time they interact with you online, via mobile or in person. If you can piece it all together, you can create a digital profile that will help you understand both their job to be done and how they prefer to achieve it.

Of course, it’s all very well having lots of data. It’s quite another turning it into actionable insights. But how do you make sense of all the data you’re collecting? Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics is starting to play a key role in taking big data and helping inform better customer experiences. It can take data points that people wouldn’t even consider and establish valid correlations between them. And it can do it fast.

The most sophisticated AI can make near-real time decisions and route customers to the most appropriate channel. (Find out more about how technology is enabling adaptive CX in this blog post.) At Verizon, we’re using technology that enables us to measure customers’ preferences down to which agent is best suited to handle their request. We can match the caller’s personality and past activity to our agent’s characteristics and experience. Since we put this technology in place, we’ve seen faster close-rates for sales and less time spent handling each query.

With an understanding of the jobs your customers want to do, and how they want to achieve them, you’ll be well on your way to delivering great CX and differentiating your business.

I’d love to hear your view about customer preferences and the role of AI and predictive analytics in CX. I’ll be speaking at the Customer Focus Summit in London on May 23. I hope to see you there.

Gordon Littley leads the specialized sales organization for Verizon’s industry leading applications services group. The organization specializes in delivering high-value solutions and specialized sales for Verizon Enterprise customers.

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