Creating a Customer-first Culture through Conversational AI

customer-first culture

The telecommunications industry has a problem, and it’s likely to become an even bigger issue if current trends continue and the widely expected global recession arrives at the end of 2022. 

Positive customer experience (CX) is declining across the entire industry.  

Several reasons are to blame for the lowering rates of customer satisfaction, including the long-term impact of the pandemic which has increased staff turnover and added pressure to contact centers that were already under increased demand due to growing call volumes. 

This is causing a myriad of problems for customers and businesses alike, with callers in Ireland having been recorded waiting up to two hours on the phone when trying to get in touch with their bank. And this is one example from hundreds of cases from Europe and the US.  

But alongside environmental and market forces, there is another key reason that telco providers, in particular, are struggling to successfully navigate the shifting market landscape, the lack of a customer-first culture. 

This was a critical issue for Telefónica Germany in 2018, when media outlets were reporting a ‘catastrophic’ level of customer service in relation to the providers customer care. 

The organization was suffering serious problems due to a lack of a customer-first culture, however, things have been turned around thanks to a change in attitude and strategy. 

This feature will explain what a customer-first culture is and how telecommunication companies can improve the performance of their contact centers through its implementation, as demonstrated by Telefónica Germany and Swisscom

Defining the customer-first culture

The clue really is in the name…But simply saying that a business is focused on its customers is very different from building a culture that influences key decisions throughout an organization. 

A customer-first culture is represented by a business being completely aligned with the goal of putting the customer first while ensuring that each staff member shares the same value, regardless of what team they are part of. 

The benefits of doing so cannot be understated.  

Numerous businesses case studies show that customers who have great experiences spend more, stay longer, and tell more people about their experiences. This leads to increases in loyalty, repeat purchases, and referrals. For example, one study demonstrated that 89% of companies with “significantly above average” customer experiences perform better financially than their competitors. 

From the perspective of a contact center, this also means that investment in technology must be prioritized alongside the training of staff. Conversational AI represents such technology as its impact on customer satisfaction is unquestionable with increased NPS scores of +18 being recorded by the likes of Swisscom following the implementation of an IVR system. 

Utilizing and implementing a complex Conversational AI system that answers customers calls immediately and provides a sophisticated level of response to customer requests is vital for building a customer-first culture across a contact center.  

Not only will this support the sign-up of new customers, retention of existing customers will also increase. A rise of customer retention of 5% can equate to an increase in profit of 25%. This is because repeat customers are more likely to spend more with your brand, 300% more on average, which results in your business having to spend less on operating costs. 

These are metrics that the telecommunications industry cannot ignore. Contact centers must implement a customer-first culture with the following steps. 

Step 1 – Create the vision  

The most important step of any journey is always the first one. That is why you must choose the right direction from the start.  

Instead of making assumptions about what your customers want, invest your time and energy into getting the facts. Carry out in-depth research and work with a range of internal stakeholders from different areas of your business in order to gather insight on your customers.  

Only then, will you be able to understand their journey and major pain points when dealing with your organization. 

When developing a Conversational AI solution to deal with customer calls and requests, it is imperative that you recognize and plan for multiple channel integration from the start of your process. Building a solution that can only operate in one channel is not enough for the modern-day customer, so you must be willing to access every channel you have access to, whether that is via voice call, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook messenger, email or SMS. 

This is an important part of creating your vision and your entire organization should be ready to have each of its channels purposed to serve your customers. 

Selecting the correct technology that can also handle such a wide variety of channel touch points is also vital at this stage. Teneo, for example, is one such platform that allows multiple conversational customer experiences to be designed across a variety of channels. 

Step 2 – Build the team  

In order to deliver and create a customer first culture through the implementation of conversational customer experiences, you must have the right team in place.  

Switzerland’s largest telecommunications provider, Swisscom, realized this at the start of their CAI journey and so, invested heavily in the training and hiring of staff that could design and develop conversational customer experiences that supported their customers.  

The solution was built to handle requests in German, Italian, French and English, meaning that customers were never left confused or unsure about the IVR instructions when calling from their mother tongue.  

Only with the correct team in place will it be possible to make technology work for your business and your customers. 

Step 3 – Invest in technology  

If you are currently in the market for a platform to build a CAI solution, you will be well aware of the vast number of products and businesses offering solutions.  

The truth is that 95% of vendors do not have services that will allow you to scale and grow, and the likelihood is that you will waste a huge amount of time and energy if you choose a cheap solution provider. 

Furthermore, the solution you launch will not be able to deliver the kind of improvements required to satisfy your customers and drive the progression of a customer-first culture.  

If you prioritize cheaper technology instead of the needs of your customers, you are going against the very core element of the methodology. If you truly want to be customer centric, you need to invest the correct amount into their care with the right technology. 

Step 4 – Create a feedback loop 

Once you have launched your conversational AI solution across your contact center, the journey has only just begun… 

Using a Teneo-based IVR, each and every call will provide you with the opportunity to collect feedback and serve information to your call agents, who will be able to learn about the caller before they arrive on the line.  

Furthermore, the data that is gathered from the call such as the length of time that the call takes and the volume of calls that are passed over are all stored in Teneo’s cloud system. Meaning that you can refine and improve your solution on a daily basis.  

You will also be able to analyze the impact of each conversational flow and make adjustments to language based upon customer feedback.  

The level of detail you choose to act on is up to you, therefore, the greater the approach to data analytics the more you will understand your customers and be able to design solutions that help them achieve what they want.  

If you are already in the process of optimizing your CAI solution but are struggling to generate a satisfactory return on investment, read our dedicated feature to help you move your project forward again.