Self Service with Chatbot

Self service technologies are getting popular with COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to a demand on contactless services. Imagine calling customer service and being put on hold for a long time “Customer service is busy…”. This brings a lot of dissatisfaction to customers. This is why many business are moving towards a self service approach using Chatbot.

How to Self Service with Chatbot

In face to face customer service, there are usually a few types of intentions. Enquiries, service requests and complaints are the key ones. Thus, you can implement such intents into your Chatbot. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) can be supplemented for enquiries. Preliminary input gathering can be done for services requests and complaints before engaging live chat.

Advantages

Chat application is user friendly and intuitive for all groups of users. You can reduce costly complaints page and focus on developing complaint Chatbot. Subsequently, majority of common enquiries can be handled by your FAQ Chatbot. This improve your customer service responses with specific requests.

The time is ripe to invest in your Chatbot and reduce reliance in your old complaint web page or feedback form. The Chatbot will enhance your customer service with self service. Overall, this will greatly improve your customer satisfaction.

Customer is not Customisation

Many users or sales have the misconception of pleasing customer with promise of customisation to your system. However, this is not true as some services are better to be standardised and cost efficient. There is also a limit to please your customer without hurting your bottomline. What are the guidelines to avoid customising your system?

A Product View

Moving your business towards a product view is the first step to understand your customer base. A key reason of customisation is the fit of your product to customer needs. A poorly fit product will result up in a lot of customisation. You must adapt your product to fit the your targetted customer base. A well designed product should have a deviation of 10% customisation and 10% localisation.

Know your Customers

When you have decide to establish your application as a product, it it time to categorise your customer base. Your understanding of customers are important to refine your product into various types. High-end and well-paying customers can be provided with all the bells and whistles in applications. In contrast, you may not want an economic customers to be using your full featured product.

The basic guideline to stop the customisation trend for your application is to start thinking like a product. With a product view, you can position your application to each customer base. This will reduce your cost and increase your customer satisfaction with a better fit of product at valued pricing.

Service Level Failure

Yesterday, I faced a pink food delivery service failure in Singapore that reminded me of my satisfaction study. The food delivery service had confirmed my order at the checkout. After waiting for an hour, I checked in horror to realise the order had been cancelled. I tried in vain to connect to the service chat. A hangry me complained severely only to be told that my payment was “cash on delivery”. Of course, each reply will reveal more reasons as I provided screenshot of the order confirmation. Finally, one admitted that there was a technical issue with the payment gateway.

Be Sensitive

Service level was failed at several level for the pink “FoodP”. The most serious failure is the insensitiveness to the customer needs. In this case, the customer service was literally unreachable for this time sensitive service. The customer was only interested in getting the meal at the timing. If your service cannot be fulfilled, it is courtesy to apologise quickly, rectify and compensate for the cancellation. Imagine a family of hangry members!

Be Truthful

The aftermath of complaint management was totally chaotic. Instead of finding out the root cause of this failure, the first cause of action place the blame to the customer. If you do not have the full truth, it is better to acknowledge an error had happened than to lie to the customer. In many ways, complaints resolution are horrific and answers are “bot” like in nature.

Service level failure management is a poorly understood area in many eCommerce platform. Like what my satisfaction study mention, the satisfaction points can come from a network of partners from payment gateway, delivery and food providers. If you want to provide standard complaint answers, you might as well get a bot! If no, let your human be human and create a satisfactory complaint resolution experience.

Job Remodel

I had a meal at MacDonald today and observe that the role of cashier have been eliminated in this MacDonald branch. In place of it, self service kiosk are present. You can now even get your meal serve to you via table service. This gives a pleasant customer experience beside the quick and fast food meal we know in MacDonald.

Self Service

Self service gives customer control of their experience in the purchase of services and goods. This reminds me of scenarios where users claim that these tasks are too technical and refuse to self service. The model is nothing new and exist in early days like ATM and kiosks. Jobs will be remodel and those who refuse to change will be obsolete like the cashier role in MacDonald.

Experiential Investment

By participating in self service, consumers are invested in their own experience. This also creates loyalty and trust with the products. All these factors give rise to higher consumer satisfaction. This model can be applied for all systems. Digital transformation is the trigger to change and enhance customer experience instead of requirements fulfilment. Products and services are reaching a saturation point that customer experience is the differential factor.

Job remodelling will continue for next 5 years in tandem with digital transformation. It is either to embrace or be eliminated. There is nothing 麻烦 “troublesome” as these are the facts to be.

Measuring Satisfaction

The measurement of satisfaction have always been elusive. Many application system have not caught onto measuring satisfaction except for gaming. This is because gaming rely heavily on affective feeling. It is good to see your in-game character or account showing positive health or satisfaction. How should the mainstream adopt such format to measure satisfaction? These are some of ideas to get the product owner thinking.

  • Allow Satisfaction to be quantified and be calculated like Brand Value.
  • Make it simple to configure for satisfaction measurement.
  • Show clear display of satisfaction measures.
  • Consider satisfaction for cultural and localisation.
  • Let your CX (Customer Experience) team own the satisfaction index.
  • Benchmark against your country Satisfaction Index e.g. Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG).

CX Team

Customer Experience (CX) teams and careers are sprouting here and there. One wonder on what exactly does CX really do? How do you really embark on a career that is dependent on Experience? Although CX aims to bridge all touchpoints for customer, we are still lacking in knowledge of what CX really encompasses. This is a brief understanding of the key points on CX.

CX Lifecycle

CX Lifecycle is a simple method to model an end to end relationship with the organisation. It is widely studied in CRM (Customer Relationship Management). CX system are touted to be an upgrade of CRM. However, it suffers from similar issue for CRM because many backend and vendor system are not integrated or networked to form a complete lifecycle. Without networked information, the lifecycle cannot be view in completeness.

CX Indicators

Like my study on overall consumer satisfaction, the satisfaction indicators seek to measure the entire CX lifecycle. The creation of these indicators often involve many puzzles to be addressed. CX team must take ownership to plug the gaps or get these measurements. Often, CX team only support the engagement and monitoring process of these indicators. The ownership of the indicators still remains with individual application owners. This reduce the CX effectiveness when the driver and ownership is not from CX team.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.

Warren Buffett
Continue reading “CX Team”

The Challenges of Business IT Alignment

Business IT Alignment is a necessity in today economy. With the speed of technology deployment and Agile approach, features can now be deployed daily. Often, business are frustrated by IT over lack of innovation. On the other hand, IT are annoyed over the changing requirements. This is a quick summary of these challenges I encountered over the years.

  1. Timing is key. Consistent alignment is recommended.
  2. Manage stakeholders expectation, not user expectations.
  3. What you want is not what you need. Wants and needs is a constant battle for alignment.
  4. Business or IT Sign off is not alignment. You will need communication more than a sign off.
  5. Remember to build for unarticulated needs. What you cannot see is could be the key to alignment. Dig further.
  6. Speak a common language. Carrier, trucker and vendor may mean the same thing.
  7. Giving in to business or IT does not mean you are aligned. Alignment means a common understanding.
  8. Learn to design your solution for alignment and adapt for change.
  9. Always include political factor as part of alignment process.
  10. If you cannot be aligned, it means that neither Business or IT is ready. Do not come to alignment for the sake of alignment. It is common not to be aligned.

Customer Experience 101

Customer Experience (CX) is an emerging trend in many organisations. Sales, customer service and customer support are being renamed into Customer Experience teams. However, are we ready for CX?

What is Customer Experience?

Customer Experience is a holistic management of customer touchpoints from infancy to “forever”. It is an integrated view to provide a positive and lifelong effect on overall consumer satisfaction. The experience combine the cognitive and affective state of mind to increase expectations beyond the customers needs. In layman terms, it is to make customers so happy and satisfied that they engage in a lifelong relationship with the organization. One such company that comes to mind would be Apple.

Why Customer Experience (CX)?

CX sounds like an idealist view and one wonders how this differs from a combination of presale, sales, customer support and customer service. As mentioned in my previous study of overall consumer satisfaction, there are different aspects of satisfaction components in consumer. All these satisfaction parts may lie in different parts of the organisation and beyond like third party vendors and logistics providers. CX aims to unite network together from these disparate systems, service providers and organisations into a single integrated experience.

Reality Bites

In reality, how many of us have really experience CX? It is common for loyal customers to be let down by services that are beyond the organisation such as third party logistics and vendors because these information are not shared. For many years, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) have been touted as the game changer for capturing customer relationships to achieve similar objectives. CX may suffer from the same verdict as CRM if many of these customer data remains in silo. Data analytics, machine learning and many other cloud technologies looks promising to change and make CX a success. By then, what will CX be rename to?

A lesson from The IT Crowd

Hello. IT. Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Source: The IT Crowd
Speaker: Roy Trenneman

On numerous occasions, we have a one liner requirement that require us to implement the request in our application system. Getting such a requirement always lead me to seek solace in a the famous funny classic show “The IT Crowd”. The phrase is one of my favorite in the show because I always feel like a reboot could be great!

Eager to Please

We are sometimes the result of our own action. It is natural to please the customers without know why they need it. Usually, the person conveying the message are not a suitable person to articulate the customer needs. Thus, do we “shoot the messenger”? Unfortunately, our old code of chivalry have prevents us from doing so. So, what are the next course of action we should consider?

Customer is Not always Right

Firstly, the organization must understand that customer is no longer always right. It is interesting to find that many demands are actually made from internal to implementation team with the thought that giving what customers wanted will please the customers. In summary, the purpose of giving is to please the customer. It is time to throw our old ways and consider a new way of handling requests.

Shooting the Messenger

A request should not always be translated to a task or action. This enlightenment means we must drop our chivalry and “shoot the messenger. Of course, this is not literally and meant that we must drop the practice of the reliance of passing the messages. With Cloud technologies, data can be easily be obtained to confirm or disprove requests. The key is to understand what customer really needs.

Customer Experience

After “shooting the messenger”, organizations shall turn towards a new role called Customer Experience (CX). This role is like an ambassador who learns, understand and even feel the customer wants and needs. The role go beyond passing message to needs analysis and “deep learning” to provide a positive experience aka consumer satisfaction (You could refer to my initial study on overall consumer satisfaction). Deep learning requires capture of data points to measure with the purpose of improving customer experience. So, is your organization agile enough to take the step to “shoot your messenger” and transform to Customer Experience?

Meanwhile, I can only stick to Netflix watching The IT Crowd.

A basic CX read, Customer Experience: What, How and Why Now

A Quick Recap of My Consumer Satisfaction Research

It was 2009 when I had published my first paper Multi-Dimensionality of Overall Consumer Satisfaction – Socio-Technical Perspective. Fast forward more than a decade later, I feel it is a good time to do a quick recap to see if the gaps I identifies are still relevant for 2021 and beyond.

✅ Multi-channel Environment

Looking at current trend, Multi-channel environment have been the correct identified settings in the research direction. However, Multi-channel is now superseded by Omnichannel. This shows that the divide between online and offline contexts are now almost negligible and encompasses various physical location, virtual world, formats and applications. You could check out OmniChannel Marketing: The Roadmap to Create and Implement Omnichannel Strategy For Your Business for more information.

✅ Overall Consumer Satisfaction

A decade ago, the measurement of satisfaction was often done with satisfaction survey that was laborious and time consuming. With so many satisfaction types identified in the conceptual framework, it was nearly impossible to collect all these data. With the advancement of technology in data analytics, it is now easier to collect data to measure these satisfaction variables. The conceptual framework is more relevant and be measured in the real world.

Recap

Overall, I am happy to see that gap of multi-channel have been superseded by omnichannel and measurement of overall consumer satisfaction is made possible with data analytics. However, more can be done to made easier for users to setup on how we can improve overall consumer satisfaction across omnichannel. One such method is to use machine learning to compute the satisfaction index based on the identified satisfaction variables and suggest improvement recommendations.