Innovative technology, ideas, processes, and mindsets are helping companies realize significant success by providing a positive impact and value on their customers and employees. We recently spoke to several experts about innovative directions that are redefining the CX industry.
The following is the second part of a series featuring highlights from our series of CX Pulse podcasts sharing their thoughts about innovation in CX.
Each section title below is the title of the specific podcast. To hear the full episodes, click on the links at the end of each section.
The Science Behind Customer Behavior
Zhecho Dobrev, Principal Consultant at Beyond Philosophy, has spent years studying the relationship between emotions and customer behavior to determine how and why customers make decisions. He’s found that emotions play a much bigger role than previously thought. They drive results and are deeply tied to the amount of value when it comes to customer happiness and retention.
“Emotions account for about 50% of the value,” he said. “So, if you aren’t measuring those, if you don't pay attention to those, you're missing 50% of the big picture.”
Yet, he added, even though emotions drive value in business, hardly any organization has a strategy that is based specifically on science and data about evoking targeted emotion.
Companies that rely on measuring traditional metrics to gauge customer satisfaction aren’t seeing the full picture, Dobrev said. CX tactics need to evolve to include the emotions of decision making or companies risk being left behind.
He pointed out that behavioral scientist Professor Daniel Kahneman found that customers don't choose between experiences. They choose between the memories of the experiences. Research shows that emotions are very closely associated with memories, which is one of the explanations why emotions matter so much.
Yet Dobrev said it's incredibly difficult to quantify emotions. Kahneman feels that organizations needing to listen to customers is a myth because research and behavior science show that people don't know what they really want.
Most CX programs fail to deliver results, added Dobrev, because organizations don’t realize that what really matters is creating feelings of an emotional attachment throughout the customer journey. “If you don't look at these subconscious aspects of the experience that drive customer behavior,” he said, “you won't find the real drivers of those metrics that everyone is measuring.”
He added that the future of CX is about creating a fusion between data using machine learning and AI to analyze that data and behavior, including taking emotions into account. Then organizations need to design customer–as well as agent–experiences based on the science of behavior.
Dobrev found that companies that followed that path experienced about a 60% growth over the last five years. In the insurance sector, where attrition is typically high, some companies had around 90% retention in their customers. But when CX just focuses on the number without the science, then it fails.
Using Customer Science for Best CX Outcomes
“To truly understand the human being, you have to understand why people do what they do,” Shaw said. Unfortunately, he added, organizations don't always see the customer as a person or understand that emotions are a big part of their buying decisions.
Part of the reason why is because of the complexity of human behavior. The other part is that organizations have done well in the last 100 years just selling products, so why change?
That attitude is affecting AI systems too. Shaw explained software programs are merely our opinion written in code. As a result, while behavioral science is taking on a bigger role in programming AI, technology isn’t always interpreting it right.
For example, Shaw said that if everybody thinks the world is flat, everything a company does is based on that belief. That means companies are training AI based on the world being flat, so the AI interprets the data that way which may result in an unbalanced equation.
Shaw shared his solution to fixing this issue. Make sure you aren’t just using siloed data within your organization. Access data streams from external sources and other companies, as well. Also, rather than just focusing on customer intentions—pay attention to their true actions.
“Embrace why customers are doing things and, therefore, their behavior,” he said. “And you need to make sure that you're interpreting what the customer is doing through that lens of behavioral science.”
By analyzing data on what customers have done in the past, said Shaw, you can use AI to start building patterns around why they did what they did. That will enable companies to predict what customers will do next, which will help improve customer experiences.
The Importance of Digital Empathy
Peter Dorrington, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Anthrolytics, wanted to know why companies don't do a better job of predicting what humans are going to do, so he started searching for a way to improve the performance of traditional predictive analytics. He invented a new class of analytics to provide a more effective method of predicting how every customer and employee feels about an organization.
Dorrington is now using his analytics to identify customers who are ready, willing, and able to buy more based on their emotions and behavior, rather than merely relying on quantifiable structured data about who customers are or how much they spend. “If you include some measure of human behavior into a predictive model that informs your operational system, you make better decisions,” he explained.
“At the end of the day, most human beings tend to make decisions with a very big component of emotionality,” Dorrington added. “We like to think that we're logical and rational, but the reality is, for most of us, many of our decisions are emotional first, because that doesn't take a lot of thinking (or) a lot of energy, we just respond and react, and we rationalize it.”
According to Dorrington, when you treat people as human beings, that dramatically improves their experiences. Even if you can't give them what they want, if you've taken the time to listen to them and understand them, they tend to accept the outcome. Empathy is a big part of that. But with the shift to digital channels, that ability is being lost in CX. But you can train digital empathy–or something like it–into AI and other systems.
Dorrington explained that human empathy is an agent’s ability to recognize the perspective of a customer, which helps agents do a better job of helping them. Digital empathy is trying to replicate aspects of what customers are used to in face-to-face or voice-to-voice environment (compassion, cognition, and emotion) and apply them across channels.
There are measurable metrics that can help increase ROI when it comes to introducing behavioral science-based techniques and processes into a CX system, added Dorrington. Providing a compassionate and human experience for customers–whether with an actual human-assisted or digital channel–can pay off in improved ROI. It can also help retain top talent with agents and other staff.
“With the economics of empathy, we can measure the impact of compassion and empathy in terms of revenue and costs,” said Dorrington. “It makes good business sense.”
WEM Innovations to Improve Agent Engagement
With the advent of innovations like AI, some companies have asked why they still need live agents in their contact centers. According to Oru Mohiuddin, Senior Research Manager at IDC, a global provider of IT market intelligence, “Agents are critical to contact centers because they are the channel through which you're delivering the service, and the frontline responsible for the quality of the experience.”
Mohiuddin believes that without the right agents in place, companies won’t be able to deliver the expert level of experiences customers demand. Agents also humanize CX at a level that AI can’t. Many organizations feel the same, she added, which is why their contact centers are leveraging innovative tools like Workforce Engagement Management (WEM) to support and drive agent performance and efficiency.
Workforce tools have existed for years, Mohiuddin pointed out, but previous versions were designed for managers and didn’t factor the element of agents into the equation. WEM basically adds an extra layer to the existing tools that ties agent performance to incentives so that agents feel that they have a stake in the process and take a personal responsibility to perform better.
Mohiuddin pointed out that AI still plays a very critical role in contact centers. Generative AI, for one, is making CX more sophisticated. But it also has a specific role in driving agent empowerment. This happens in two key ways: Agent assist tools designed to help agents perform better, and automation that takes away mundane tasks so agents can focus on more important responsibilities.
“The roles of agents are expanding,” said Mohiuddin. “It's not like the traditional call center where you just read the script. You need agents who are intelligent, who can think, who can solve problems, who can drive relationships.”
That’s why, she added, you want to retain existing agents who have gained experience and who can deliver expected outcomes at a higher level. WEM can help achieve those goals.
Discover more about how innovation can redefine CX
To learn more about CX innovation, read Driving innovation from vision to reality and Lose the baggage! Accelerate CX innovation in the cloud.
Take the next step to learn how NICE can help your organization take its CX strategy to a whole new level through award-winning innovative technology.
Read more in the first part of this series pulling insights on innovation from CX Pulse.