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Experts discuss strategies for seamless customer experiences in the digital age

In the evolving customer service landscape, contact centres are undergoing a transformative journey to deliver seamless experiences. Embracing the digital revolution reshapes traditional customer interaction with innovative strategies. The focus is now on enhancing customer experiences through personalised interactions, anticipating needs, providing real-time solutions, and adapting to digital channels while maintaining a human touch.

Genesys, in association with YourStory, hosted a roundtable discussion with experts to understand how organisations and businesses can transform contact centres to ensure seamless customer experiences in the digital age.

Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, led the discussion with industry-specific insights. The panel comprised Raja Lakshmipathy, Vice President and Managing Director- India and SAARC, Genesys; Vijayarathna Venkatraman, Chief Executive Officer, Motherhood Hospitals; Fasih M, Senior Director and Head of Merchant/Customer Success, Cashfree; Joseph Jeun, Vice President Information Technology, Bangalore International Airport; Nilesh Rathi, SVP and Head, Customer Experience, Acko; Sudeep Dey, Chief Information Officer, Healthcare Global Enterprises; Palani Nama, VP, Head of IT for Operations, Mashreq Bank; Anjali Panwar, Head of Customer Success, Freo; Siddhartha Nihalani, Co-Founder, Practo; Savitri Bobde, Head, Customer Experience, Niyo Solutons Inc.; Rajat Shikhar, Co-Founder and CPO, Dealshare; Sumit Nigam, CTO, Perfios; and Ramkumar Narayanan, Vice-President, Product and Operations, Product and Customer Service, Simpl. 

Revolutionising customer engagement with AI

Raja Lakshmipathy, Vice President and Managing Director- India and SAARC, at Genesys kicked off the discussion by emphasising the broader applications of AI beyond traditional conversational interfaces. He mentioned how AI is crucial for understanding what customers want, linking them with the most suitable agents, and using predictive engagement. Instead of just measuring agent performance with call metrics, Genesys AI assesses what customers need and suggests the best agent for the job. 

“In my approach, understanding a customer’s online interactions is key to providing better service. With a substantial contact centre team, addressing every need is a challenge, but AI steps in. Genesys AI utilises scoring metrics to identify the most suitable agent from a pool of a thousand — a practice we term productive engagement. Also, sentiment analysis helps assess customer emotions, enabling us to assist agents effectively. 

“It’s about finding the right balance between organisational efficiency and empathetic customer service in a country of 1.4 billion people. The focus is on leveraging AI not just for transactions but also for analytics, process improvement, continuous learning, and deployment,” he shared. 

Nuances of compliance

Anjali Panwar, Head of Customer Success at Freo, stressed the nuanced nature of compliance in the fintech sector, cautioning against viewing it in stark terms of black or white. She urges finding a balanced, grey area to navigate through guidelines without encountering regulatory issues. 

“The goal is to ensure the fintech landscape doesn’t become a nightmare for everyone, avoiding the perception that it’s shrouded in darkness,” she added. 

Diversity in customer preference and onboarding

Palani Nama, VP, Head of IT for Operations at Mashreq Bank, highlighted the challenge of facing fines for results that have been in existence for seven years. He shared the importance of AI not only in enhancing customer experience through voice channels but also in optimising the holistic customer journey. 

“Entities like customer onboarding, Knowledge Centered Service (KCS), and the entire spectrum of customer information processing and enrichment are all crucial. The goal is swift service delivery. In the past, opening an account for business individuals involved risks due to false information. Today, the entire customer onboarding process is seamlessly automated. Our journey involves a chatbot that intuitively guides users through their preferences,” Nama said.

While voice may be preferred abroad or during technical issues, chat becomes favourable in spaces like restaurants. Savitri Bobde, Head, Customer Experience, Niyo Solutions Inc., talked about the diversity in customer preferences.

“In our research, we’ve discovered that customer preferences vary across channels. Whether it’s voice when travelling abroad, or chatting in local scenarios like restaurants, the decline in usage of one channel prompts us to address challenges and cater to customers using other channels. Despite WhatsApp’s restriction on business voice calls, it emerges as a preferred channel, offering versatile features like screenshot uploads,” she revealed. 

Navigating customer interaction and consumer-corporate dynamics

Rajat Shikhar, Co-Founder and CPO at Dealshare, delved into the importance of context in customer interactions and envisioned a future where wisdom and intelligence coexist. He stressed the need for a blend of AI and human intelligence, creating a communication environment that is both personal and efficient, especially during critical moments. Reflecting on his experience since 2007, he drew parallels to the principles outlined in the book Delivering Happiness.

“Our agents make informed choices, guided by a dashboard providing insights into customer needs and sentiments. Whether a bot or a person, our goal is to enable individuals to use technology for personalised and efficient communication. At the ‘moment of truth’, the entire customer experience should reflect an empathetic approach, embodying our culture and promise,” he added. 

Fasih M Senior, Director and Head of Merchant/Customer Success at Cashfree, shared the dual perspectives in this scenario, considering both consumer preferences and corporate needs. On the consumer side, the choice between voice and messaging platforms like WhatsApp often depends on user cohorts. Younger generations might favour a mix, while older individuals may prefer traditional voice communication. 

“WhatsApp’s popularity lies in its consistent user experience across various companies. However, challenges arise on the corporate side, where context building is crucial. In-app messaging provides inherent context, facilitating smoother interactions. The corporate challenge involves ensuring context transfer, especially when users switch platforms, which companies like Genesys aim to address, fostering a balanced approach to meet both consumer and corporate requirements,” Fasih added. 

Embracing the shift

Nilesh Rathi, SVP and Head of customer Experience at Acko, called out the challenge of seamlessly maintaining customer context across various channels, including social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. He said transitioning between channels, such as moving from an app to a call centre, should be imperceptible to users. 

Rathi added that in the context of complex scenarios like car insurance, where understanding and workflow are intricate, there’s a need to ensure a smooth flow of information. “A solution involves leveraging platforms like WhatsApp for initial interactions, providing necessary details, and then seamlessly guiding users to more comprehensive experiences on dedicated apps. This approach aims to balance user confidence, preferences, and the depth of information provided across different channels.”

Joseph Jeun, Vice President of Information Technology at Bangalore International Airport, said the focus is on achieving true omnichannel engagement, addressing challenges like encouraging app downloads and ensuring scalability. 

“The strategy involves offering unique app features for immediate problem-solving during various scenarios, such as travel. Scalability issues are being addressed, exploring options like meta and digital solutions. Integrating a payment gateway aids in revenue sharing and tracking offline transactions, with the incentive to reveal details through app downloads,” he shared. 

He mentioned that the goal is to create a seamless omnichannel experience, acknowledging the importance of every channel and striving to leverage them effectively.

Siddhartha Nihalani, Co-founder at Practo, shared that the strategy involves employing voice channels for high-value transactions, like insurance, due to the need for a human touch, while utilising workflows, chatbots, or bots for low-ticket items to manage costs. 

“The goal is to enhance automated voice capabilities to improve organisational performance, especially in healthcare. This balanced approach aims to cater to different transaction sizes effectively. In essence, the organisation seeks to strike a balance between personalised interactions and cost-efficient solutions,” Nihalani said. 

Over the past two decades, healthcare has witnessed a significant shift toward technology integration, especially in imaging diagnostics, said Vijayarathna Venkatraman, CEO of Motherhood Hospitals. The prevalence of AI-driven intuitive guidance in image analysis has become commonplace, with millions of images facilitating its development. COVID accelerated the adoption of telemedicine, making video consultations a vital tool for doctors and patients. 

“This shift not only boosted customer confidence in accessing clinical services remotely but also became crucial for customer engagement and retention in large healthcare networks. The experimentation phase includes leveraging voice and WhatsApp channels, and recognising the emotional nuances in healthcare interactions that still require a human touch for optimal outcomes,” he shared. 

Sumit Nigam, CTO of Perfios, reflected on the transformative potential of leveraging emotion in customer engagement, citing a personal example of weariness with traditional practices. They express a desire for a streamlined interaction with their bank, envisioning a scenario where the bank, armed with comprehensive customer data, proactively addresses their needs without constant outreach. 

“I’ve experienced the repetitive nature of inbound engagement, and it got me thinking about a more seamless way to interact with my bank. Imagine if I could just ask questions, and the bank, armed with all my data, could proactively suggest solutions. Recently, I came across a startup working on something similar, contemplating the potential of extensive customer data access for a truly personalised experience. It’s both intriguing and somewhat daunting.”

Sudeep Dey, Chief Information Officer at Healthcare Global Enterprises, revealed that in the last 18 months, his organisation faced data privacy challenges, especially with the advent of data protection laws. 

“We focus on tailoring experiences based on specific contexts and remain vigilant about privacy regulations. Given the extensive genomics and medical history data we handle, obtaining clear consent and following explicit data usage policies is essential. Compliance with data protection laws, including the Vulnerability Disclosure Policy (VDP), is a key aspect of our customer experience strategy, especially as we adapt to the changing regulatory environment,” he added. 

Ramkumar Narayanan, Vice-President of Product and Operations, Product and Customer Service, at Simpl, touched upon how data is the paramount channel for enhancing customer experiences. 

“Whether in a physical store, online, or while window shopping at the airport, data directs our decisions on reaching customers through WhatsApp, Instagram, or a call. It’s the key to identifying the best and empowering merchants for successful acquisition and sales,” Narayanan said. 

Balancing act: Innovation, compliance, and consumer needs in focus

As businesses embrace the digital revolution, the focus remains steadfast on delivering seamless customer experiences. The integration of cutting-edge technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, was a recurring theme throughout this discussion. 

The discussions revealed a collective commitment to striking a balance between technological innovation, human touch, regulatory compliance, and the diverse needs of consumers.

As businesses navigate the complexities of the digital age, the roundtable discussion serves as a compass, guiding them toward a future where seamless, empathetic, and personalised customer experiences take centre stage.

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