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The Secret To Customer Engagement And Retention In 2021

A CCW Digital Case Study

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Matt Wujciak
01/14/2021

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“We all are familiar with that feeling – ‘There’s just something about that restaurant. There’s something about that school. There’s something about that family.’ And it feels like magic, but what I found out visiting the groups and looking at the science underneath, it’s not magic. It’s a set of interactions that creates what we call culture.” – Daniel Coyle NYT bestselling author, on The Culture Code.

The question then becomes; how do we influence those sets of interactions in organizations to create winning cultures and experiences?

Daniel Coyle travels the world studying, even quantifying the impact different groups’ sociology has on their success - from Pixar, Zappos, and international development organizations, to SEAL team six, the San Antonio Spurs, and more.

In his book he tells the story of a famous study conducted of different groups that were challenged to build the tallest possible structure using the following items:

  • Twenty pieces of uncooked spaghetti
  • One yard of transparent tape
  • One yard of string
  • One standard-size marshmallow

The contest had one rule: The marshmallow had to end up on top. The fascinating part of the experiment, however, had less to do with the task than with the participants. Some of the teams consisted of business school students, as well as teams of successful CEOs, groups of lawyers, and others consisted of kindergartners.

The business students got right to work. They began talking and thinking strategically. They examined the materials.

CEOs and other groups took a similar approach, but overcomplicated processes, and struggled with social hierarchies.

The kindergartners took a different approach. They did not strategize. They did not analyze or share experiences. They did not ask questions, propose options, or hone ideas. In fact, they barely talked at all, reacting almost instinctively. “Here! No, here!” As Coyle describes, their entire technique might be described as trying a bunch of stuff together.

In dozens of trials, kindergartners built structures that averaged twenty-six inches tall, while business school students built structures that averaged less than ten inches. (Teams of kindergartners also defeated teams of lawyers [who built towers that averaged fifteen inches] as well as the CEOs [twenty-two inches]).

The concept is fascinating, but simple. When you take away the tension, along with misjudged interpretations of social interactions, performance increases in organizations. 

But what if every organization had this winning formula of simplicity and efficiency in communication, tackling difficult tasks and delivering frictionless results?

Should your customer experience team behave like kindergartners? Maybe

Whether you’re the 2018 Golden State Warriors, Amazon customer service, or a group of kindergarteners, effective communication and simple explanations are key. 

This is why we interviewed Etie Hertz, Chief Executive Officer at Loris.ai - to understand the solutions they’re providing to help companies achieve these goals.

By melding empathy and artificial intelligence, Loris is making waves in the customer experience space, simplifying interactions and increasing efficiency, while driving personalized, meaningful interactions with customers.

“The pandemic has raised the stakes. With all that is happening around the world, customers are experiencing greater levels of insecurity and demanding more empathetic interactions than ever before. Being a good corporate citizen is no longer an option; it’s becoming a prerequisite for doing business. Ultimately, the companies that show up for their customers in these times will build loyalty, long-term.” - Etie Hertz Chief Executive Officer at Loris.ai.

Building a winning culture that delivers profitable customer loyalty is easier said than done. As digital transformation has been significantly expedited during the pandemic, consumer expectations have simultaneously risen sharply. To Etie’s point, customer insecurity, general tension and high expectations are being brought to the employees tasked with addressing these concerns and solving their problems. Simply put, there’s never been more at stake for customer experience departments attempting to resolve more complicated issues.

“The feelings of anxiety and frustration felt by consumers are often conveyed to businesses through their customer service agents. As more and more interactions move online, the only time companies and customers interact today is through digital customer service platforms.” Etie says. “A PWC study found that 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after just one bad experience. In effect, customer care has become the brand for most of the world’s largest businesses.”

But while you can’t turn your employees into kindergartners to create a culture of care-free, efficient problem solving, you can empower your organization to tackle problems by instilling the tools and technology that can foster an efficient, solution-focused culture.

Trends shaping the future of customer experience

It’s no secret that quality customer experiences hinge on high-quality conversations, regardless of where an employee is located. If employees cannot quickly communicate valuable information while building meaningful rapport with customers in a given target market, high satisfaction and loyalty scores will be challenging to achieve. It is a secret however, that the business world is struggling in achieving these efficient, high quality conversations. Here’s where things get interesting. 

When we asked consumers which factors are most important in judging customer service, accuracy of information and resolution, and speed/efficiency were the highest rated responses, according to CCW Digital research.

When we asked Global Contact Center, CX, Marketing, IT, and Operations Strategy leaders about their greatest current challenges: “Training, coaching and developing talent” and “Ensuring communication/engagement between employees and their peers” were both in the top five out of twenty-five categories. 46% of respondents struggle with training, coaching and developing talent, while 44% struggle with ensuring communication, according to CCW Digital research.  

Delivering efficient, well communicated service is the most important factor in customer experience. But it’s also one of the greatest challenges. 

As Etie highlights, in today’s world, oftentimes the only time a customer speaks to a brand is when something goes wrong. As companies invest in their digital transformation initiatives, such as chatbot capabilities and self-service channels, human agents will increasingly be held responsible for responding to the most emotional customers with the most complicated issues. 

COVID-19 has been a catalyst to this pre-existing trend. The increasingly emotional and complex conversations that brands are experiencing warrant human support and provide opportunities for brands to improve relationships with customers. Of course, this is the reason customer experience leaders are looking to improve costly employee training and rarely efficient but much needed personalized communication.

Etie’s company is revealing exactly how customers are feeling and guiding employee conversations in real time — no additional training or soft skills required. 

While soft skills are in high demand (and hard to come by in a digital era), Loris.ai is looking to alleviate that gap in customer engagement. When I asked Etie about how their products are achieving this goal, he answered:

“You can think of Loris like a GPS for conversations. When a customer messages in, the first thing our software does is score the customer’s emotion. The sentiment score is accompanied by an emoji to help cue the agent into the customer’s emotion. Next, Loris dynamically provides agents with step-by-step clickable text suggestions to help guide them through the conversation in real-time. The emoji changes as the customer responds, helping the agent track how the customer’s emotions are changing throughout the conversation.”  - Etie Hertz, Chief Executive Officer at Loris.ai

Loris’ real-time guidance has helped agents accurately identify and validate a customer’s emotion to effectively de-escalate the conversation. With clickable text suggestions, Loris reduces the amount of time agents have to spend thinking about what to say and how to say it (something the MBA students, CEOs, and lawyers mentioned above could have benefitted from) - enabling them to solve more problems faster – all while simultaneously delivering personalized experiences that generate higher customer satisfaction rates. In other words, the software is improving the level of emotional intelligence being displayed from agents to customers, increasing the company’s brand reputation and improving their bottom line.

While groups of CEO’s, MBA students, and lawyers may struggle to effectively utilize problem solving techniques required to accomplish an immediate task under pressure, front-line employees don’t have to.

“We’re experts at handling hard conversations in messaging channels. Loris was spun out of Crisis Text Line, the world’s first text-based crisis hotline. We draw our empathy insights from the largest mental health data set in history -- 150 million messages and growing -- and have baked that learning into our enterprise software to help companies boost their empathy and bottom line.” - Etie Hertz Chief Executive Officer, Loris.ai.

The role of conversational AI in human interactions 

When many customer experience leaders think of “conversational AI,” they think of replacing customer service agents, rather than empowering them.

"Conversational AI is evolving because the field of Natural Language Processing is rapidly progressing with more advanced language models being released. Current conversational AI has the ability to run multiple models in parallel and incorporate more of the context of the conversation to help agents do the difficult components of their job more effectively. The shift towards more computer-human interaction and automation has produced more conversational data to analyze, and in turn, more opportunity to hone conversational AI techniques. With more data and more opportunity, the field continues to expand rapidly" (along with consumers’ subconscious expectations from customer service teams) says Loris.ai Data Scientist, Seth Levine. 

Using conversational AI in the real-time coaching software, the complexity of customer service is reduced, the consumer expectations are exceeded, and the results are astonishing. 

Agents using Loris had 100% of their messages tracked and saw: 

  • 33% decrease in customer conversations ending negatively
  • 26% decrease in Average Handle time
  • 33% improvement in NPS

We are moving into an era of hyper-personalization. While speed of service is becoming increasingly imperative as customers yearn to feel individually recognized and valued by the companies they interact with, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for any company to temporarily satisfy, let alone upsell or retain, customers who are upset. By satisfying customers quickly in the year ahead, companies will have a tremendous opportunity to increase CSAT metrics, customer-lifetime-value, and ultimately, revenue.

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