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Jul 13, 2018 | By Matt | Share this article

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To say that today’s customer journeys are fragmented is an understatement. If you ask 10 different people how they would attempt to communicate with a company for support or transactions, you might get 10 different answers. Be it by phone, a website, webchat, or a myriad of social channels, consumers have an almost infinite number of avenues to access information or conversations with the business and brands that pique their interest. As Gartner pointed out a few years ago: customer experience is the new battlefield for competition.

While most companies have a robust digital presence, there is a digital transformation afoot. Beyond manning a Facebook page or Twitter account, newer and more sophisticated digital channels are emerging. Digital transformation requires adapting and dedicating resources to these newer channels, such as Facebook Messenger, Apple Business Chat, RCS, native apps, WhatsApp, IVR and many more.

That said, simply setting up these channels doesn’t mean you can declare success and your digital transformation complete. A customer’s journey through all of these channels must be constant and continuous. What does this mean, exactly?

Take for example you are chatting with brand on Twitter or their own webchat for support. It escalates to the point where you need to speak on the phone. When you call into support, you are hoping the new conversation starts of with all the information you previously entered through another channel. To put it even more succinctly, you are not looking to start a new conversation, but rather to continue the one you previously had. This requires front-end and back office integrations with these digital channels to ensure a consistent experience across all digital consumer touchpoints.

It’s what customers want

And this is gravely important to customers. According to research from Cisco and BT, customers want simple journeys: 56 percent claim convenience is more important to them than price. This is evident in other consumer businesses that have successfully navigated the digital transformation. Uber, Lyft, Spotify, Netflix; consumers are willing to upend tradition models in the spaces where these companies exist. They deem it more convenient than the previous alternative.

Based on these successes, digital customers have positive expectations when it comes to embracing digital transformation themselves. From the above research: 56 percent believe they’ll receiver a quicker response with webchat rather than other methods like email or phone support; 80 percent are ready to use chatbots for quick transactions, 38 percent think social media is the best way to make contact for urgent issues; and most importantly for everything discussed so far, 81 percent of those asked want companies to offer support on different digital channels to meet their needs. Many want to be empowered to serve themselves, on their own time, where they find it most convenient.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a part as well; 78 percent of consumers value proactive service and like it when company notices their online inquiry and reaches out directly to help. AI tools can efficiently help identify customer pain points that need escalation.

Leaders are stepping up

Canadian telecommunications company Shaw have recently taken the steps to go all in on their digital transformation. There are immediate pain points not only from a technology standpoint, but also the perception in the public eye:

“Two years from now, people will not say that we were being too bold to embrace the new model. As we talk to both Canadians and our team about it, people understand that digital and self-serve is the way of the future,” Shaw president Jay Mehr told the Canadian Press. “And it’s how Canadians actually want to be served.”

And Shaw isn’t the only company going all in on digital transformation. Large telecommunication companies like C Spire and Digicel and transitioning their support and communications to similar omnichannel models.

Craig Jackson, vice president of Customer Operations for C Spire said AI-based digital care is one of the pillars for a solid, 21st century customer care platform. “[This transformation] will help us efficiently satisfy and answer more customer inquiries, and let them control how and when they choose to contact and interact with us, making it effortless for our customers. We’re looking forward to expanding the partnership and improving our customers’ experience even more.”

AI paves an easier way

Large scale transformation – like the one we see before us – is rarely easy. One way to alleviate some of the pain points is an approach like Wysdom’s. Our cognitive exchange allows a business to implement a solution on day one. With 230,000 utterances and 5,000 intents understood, spanning a several industries – from telecom, to insurance, to finance – an enterprise business can use automated digital care immediately.

Meanwhile, our AI tools and training team ingests and understands all your support assets and chat logs to ensure it can pull the most recent and accurate data to serve your customers needs. The solution works immediately, while constantly learning from interactions through all your digital channels.

A quick start in this space is crucial. The above consumer trends show where expectations lay for service and support. Enterprise business may balk at the effort required to transform their channels and adapt to changing consumer taste, but they must face the fact that 89 percent of them prefer channels like messaging apps to communicate, and is one of the few ways to remain sticky with a distracted millennial audience (77 percent let messaging messaging apps send them notifications).

My advice is to start your transformation today, if you haven’t already – chances are your competitors already have.