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Long Live the Good Ole Telephone

Release Date: July 21, 2020 • Episode #126

Chatbot, A.I., customer service through social media… there are a vast number of ways in which customers can interact with companies, but is one method better than the other? In July of 2019, Genesys, a global customer experience and contact center technology company based in Daly City, California, commissioned several surveys in various countries to gather data on consumer opinions pertaining to automated customer experiences. Host Steve Walker welcomes Janelle Dieken, Senior Vice President for Product Marketing at Genesys, to discuss the results of the study and what CX professionals should glean from the results.

Read “U.S. Consumer Opinions on Customer Experience”

Transcript

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Steve:
Companies have a vast toolbox of technologies and methods in which to deliver customer service. So how do you know what tool will deliver the better experience?

Janelle:
Overall, long live the good ole telephone. Consumers are still finding most success and getting answers just by picking up the phone and dialing.

Steve:
Reviewing the report, "U.S. Consumer Opinions on Customer Experience" on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host The CX Leader Podcast. And thank you for listening. On CX Leader podcast, we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you to leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects. Want to do more business with you. Chat bot, artificial intelligence, and customer service through social media. There are vast number of ways in which customers can interact with companies today, but is one method better than the other? In July of 2019, Genesys, a global customer experience and contact center technology company based in Daly City, California, commissioned several surveys in various countries to gather data on customer opinions pertaining to automated customer experiences. Janelle Dieken is the senior vice president for product marketing at Genesys, and she's going to explain the results and highlight some of the more interesting findings from this work. Janelle, thank you for being on The CX Leader Podcast.

Janelle:
Thanks, Dave. Thanks for having me.

Steve:
Well, we're delighted to have you on the podcast this week and really excited about some of the information that you're going to provide. And just for context. I don't know you. I know the company just because they have a large operation here in Indianapolis. But maybe for our guests, if you could just give us a little bit of your background and also tell us a little bit more about what Genesys does.

Janelle:
Sure. Happy to. So now in product marketing, as you mentioned, but I didn't start my career there. I started totally as a math and computer science nerd. And then along the way, very early in my career, started working with Genesys Technology and evolved into sales positions and business consulting. Then product management and then landed in marketing, where each step in my career sort of built on my experience from from the previous one. So ultimately, I am passionate about the power of a great story in solving big business problems with wisdom as well as tech.

Steve:
And Genesys is a big player in the customer experience and contact center space. Could you just tell us a little bit more about what you do and then maybe even with your job in product, how does that tie into the world of the CX professional?

Janelle:
Sure. So at Genesys, we wake up every day focused on helping companies of any size all over the globe provide better customer experiences to their customers so they can ultimately grow their business. Using our experience in customer experience, which ranges for about 30 years, as well as our technology innovations, especially nowadays with cloud and artificial intelligence technology.

Steve:
Yeah, I've been around the business for a long time and obviously we collect a lot of data around customer experiences as they occur in the contact center. So I've been very familiar with the company for most of its existence. And I just think the conversion of customer experience, it's kind of bringing all of these disciplines together. And so it's somewhat interesting that with your experience in sales and marketing, even the technology side of it, that you find yourself here at this point with Genesys and really appreciate you having on the podcast. I know now that Genesys has a new report out on the U.S. consumer opinion on customer experience. And there's a lot of interesting stuff out there. Can you just tell us a little bit about why you guys did the report and maybe some of the key overall findings?

Janelle:
Yeah, absolutely. So we commissioned a study through Vitreous World, and we did it across 13 different countries. Really, we wanted to get some insights and examine examine consumer opinions on the increasingly automated world of customer service, which is certainly a hot trend as we work with companies and wondering to modernize that and make that better. And so really the report that we've homed in on here focuses on the U.S. response, which had about eight hundred adult responses, 50/50 male/female split across age ranges and regions all across the U.S. So it's really interesting results. I mean, overall, some key things that stood out to me: one of the early questions we asked in the survey was when asked about the three most recent customer service interactions, overwhelmingly, a majority of those, eight hundred respondents were actually pleased with their experience. Eighty nine percent said they had a pleasant experience versus a negative experience. And I think that's really good news for… to hear. As in the customer experience space and for the customer experience leaders that are looking are listening because it's a difficult thing to keep up with as demands are constantly evolving. That's number one. Number two, I think an important takeaway from the report is, there is a question on how often do you base decisions to buy from a business only on the business's reputation for providing good customer service. And eighty eight percent said always or sometimes. And so, as a provider of technology to improve customer experiences, we wholeheartedly believe at Genesys that the way for a brand to differentiate itself in the market these days is through providing great customer experience. Trying to do so by providing the next innovative product or slashing your prices is kind of a race to the bottom. And if you flip that around, the ramifications for poor customer service is the number one reason for consumers to leave the company. Fifty two percent of the respondents said that.

Steve:
Great findings. I'm excited and looking forward to looking deeper into the report. Now, you mentioned that this is automated customer service. So just again, for context, this would be when you call and maybe before you get to a live rep?

Janelle:
Yes. So actually, the questions focused on that automated experience. If you call and you listen to the prompts and you, you know, change your address as an example, or if you do some intentions and then transfer to a human being to finish out the interaction. So we covered both perspectives.

Steve:
I think this is fascinating because I know you guys are in this business and we can all relate as consumers. You know, there are really good experiences in that world and there's also some that aren't so good. But I think it is getting much better. Can you go across modalities? So, like, could you go chat with an agent online? Was that in the context of a study or was this just more telephone?

Janelle:
It was in the context of the study. And some of the surprising elements is we also slice the data – I mentioned it was sort of a 50/50 split…

Steve:
Yeah.

Janelle:
…male respondents and female respondents. There were actually some intriguing variances on preferences of communication channels, as well as different reasons by gender and why maybe they didn't like a particular communication channels.

Steve:
Wow. Can you talk about some of that? Because that's fascinating.

Janelle:
I can. I thought it was really intriguing to. So overall, long live the good ole telephone. Consumers are still finding most success and getting answers just by picking up the phone and dialing – about sixty three percent. But what's intriguing is women more than men prefer that channel by about eight percentage points, according to the survey results. I know, I don't know about you, Steve, but I live my work days on video conference these days. So I'm used to it. But women respondents said that they're more uncomfortable with video interactions than men. There is a sixteen point difference. So that was interesting. And then as you get into some of the more digital channels like web chat or messaging, via iMessage or WhatsApp in some of those, web chat versus messaging chat, women more than men said that they don't like web chat because it's too slow to communicate back and forth. But the opposite was true for men. Men thought messaging apps like iMessage or or WhatsApp was more slow for them than web chat. So that was intriguing. And didn't expect that. And then social channels like if you tweet or, you know, respond on Facebook versus web chat, women more than men said they don't like social media because they don't feel understood communicating on that channel. But the opposite was true for men. They don't like web chat over social media because they feel less understood in web chat. So some intriguing survey responses. I think you take it as an input. It's not, you know, universal. And there's you can't just stereotype like that. But it was it was intriguing results when you dice the data that way.

Steve:
Yeah. I think it kind of reminds me of some work we did. Ours was more in the B2B space several years ago. But kind of what does it mean to have a good customer experience? And I think, you know, people do today would they want to leverage technology to self serve if they can. But then at a certain point, if they get hung up, then they want to be able to access the expertize. A lot of people, they don't want to talk to the sales rep if they can get information off the web site first and then be able to initiate that. And then you talk about all of the channels that we're talking about. You know, I mean, you got to be able to handle a customer request via telephone, via the website, or maybe even via the social media platform or the texting platform. So it's getting very complicated. But in this, in a sense, that's how we're tailoring it to the customer's preference. Right? And we're making it easy to do business.

Janelle:
Yes, but what makes it more difficult for companies is being able to stitch together all of those different communication channels, not just for customer service, but across their marketing efforts or sales efforts or customer service efforts.

Steve:
Informed product design, informed service design, informed supply chain. Yeah. Which is this is one of my things, as you know. Yeah. It's more complicated for companies, but what a great time to be in the customer experience business.

Janelle:
For sure. Absolutely. And I think nowadays, more than ever, as I think of when, you know, my interactions with contact centers, especially contact centers, are often sort of that front door to a brand's customer experience. Right? They represent that in a really huge way. And for so many years, sort of their performance drivers and their measurements were focused on efficiency factors or effectiveness factors. Right? Like, how to how quickly can you get the call answered?

Steve:
Right.

Janelle:
What's your service level? All of that. Right? And I think that a key missing ingredient now more than ever before is really that element of empathy and really just making, whether it be a man or woman, feel heard and understood in their channel of preference and feel known so that you can then personalize the experience from there.

Steve:
Yeah, actually reminds me many of the organizations that I saw in the contact center space. They would be very focused on internal metrics like talk time, first call resolution, time on hold. And with the evolution now of customer experience and experience management, we can tie that very much to the customer sentiment. So you can look at did the rep think that they got the transaction done? But you could also ask the customer, hey, was your problem taken care of? So and…

Janelle:
You know, those are different interpretations, right? [Laughing]

Steve:
Yeah, no, that's that's exactly the kind of dialog that I think is customer experience pros, we want to create those inside of organizations because this is another kind of I think common finding is it's rarely the people want to do a bad job. Most people came to the company to to fulfill the mission of the organization and they want to do a good job. It's oftentimes it's the process, the technology, the rules that that prohibit that. And so if we're truly going to be customer focused, we have to be kind of constantly trying to challenge those things that don't allow people to take care of customers in a way that they're willing to pay for and that they value.

Janelle:
Absolutely. And especially in these times, sometimes the most empathetic thing you can do for the customer is give them a really efficient experience too, right? like those things aren't mutually exclusive. If I just lost my job and I'm calling the unemployment agency, I don't want to wait in queue five hours to talk to somebody. If I can have automation, a bot, just give me the answer, the status of when my check is coming. Good to go. I'm happy. You know?

Steve:
Yeah, you are happy.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week is Janelle Dieken. She's a senior vice president of product marketing at Genesys, a global customer experience and contact center technology company based in Daly City, California. We're discussing with Janelle the results of some studies they did on the preferences people have for self-service in and interacting with technologies and humans for customer experience. You said something interesting sort of there in the last segment about the contact center is typically kind of where the rubber meets the road. And they really are. They're kind of the end of the road for the customer who can't really figure it out. And so a lot of the things that are not resolved end up in the contact center. We have a tremendous empathy for people that are frontline customer facing employees. You have any take on sort of what the role of customer facing employees are for customer experience and and how that informs your work?

Janelle:
Oh gosh, I, I share that empathy every time I sit down and do those those side-by-sides with contact center employees. I'm like, I don't know how you do this every day. Right? Switching between so many applications or trying to act like they know the customer, you know, right in the moment when they're still trying to dig into the right data and just maintaining all of the latest and greatest that's going on in the company that they're having to keep up to date. It's really, really difficult. And… And I think you compound that even more when we were more in a virtual work environment where, you know, you're not going into an office and you have to keep up that level of engagement and adherence to schedules. So. Absolutely. I think with customer engagement, hand in hand goes and employee engagement and you can't have one without the other. And you need to be able to support it and provide technology to make it easier for the employee to have and serve their customers with that empathy and immediately help the customer feel known and understood and understand where that customers in their journey and how they might be feeling to address their problems and empower them more to to maybe cross boundaries every once in a while to to, you know, break a few rules here and there for for the good intention of serving the customer at the end of the day.

Steve:
When you look at the results of the study, what things kind of surprised you the most?

Janelle:
I think it was some of the differences that I alluded to earlier related to sort of the gender differences. It was surprising to me that close to 90 percent said their last three experiences were positive. I don't know if I could say the same right now, but I think that there's still opportunity for improvement and a lot of perceptions out there. There's another question, for instance, that rated customer service with with small businesses much higher than customer service if it's an online only experience or unfortunately, oftentimes an experience with a government agency. And so there's a lot of room for growth and improvement there. That also kind of counterbalanced that 90 percent. But I guess maybe going back to some of the gender differences. One of the things I also noticed between men and women in their responses to this was that there was a 10 percentage point difference in men basing their decision to purchase from a company only based on customer service. And in fact, 19 percent points difference in men's willingness to pay more for that. And twice as many men versus women said that they were willing to pay a surcharge of 10 percent or more for that.

Steve:
You were starting to allude the implications for CX pros, so we're going to put it up on the website how they can get access to more of this information and, particularly CX pros, if your organization runs a contact center, you're gonna want to try to get this information and glean that and put that into it. But what are some of the big implications that you see for the practitioners just based on what you've seen and obviously your knowledge of putting technology into contact centers?

Janelle:
Well, I think some what some insights that stand out to me maybe for the CX leaders listening in as we talked about how this is proving to be yet another strong validation point of the importance of customer experience, not just for the sake of customer experience, but really for the growth and survival of your brand. Number one. And number two, I think as as we kind of look into the variances, even just at a gender level, I think that highlights a larger macro trend that regardless of your gender or region or, you know, age group or however you want to slice the data, there is an expectation of having this have it your way service experience. Right? And so I think of airlines or hotel chains or banks or retailers, for years, they've had sort of their tiers of customer based on, you know, the value of gold, silver, bronze, et cetera. But even within that, there's… you can't have all consumers being treated equal. And I think the opportunity there is really to go beyond personalizing that experience and a profile level down to like a one to one individual level.

Steve:
Janelle, this has been a fascinating discussion about the results of the study and how Genesys is applying that for your customers. The companies that want to be more customer focused, how could they apply some of these findings into their organization to create some better outcomes?

Janelle:
Well, I hope you're intrigued by some of this research and can use it as a valuable data point. One of the things that I've learned in my career is as using design thinking as a design, customer experiences and one of the takeaways I keep with me in that is that as part of that, you have to triangulate around many data points. So hopefully this at least piques your curiosity to take this. And then dig into the on your own experiences that you're providing through your company's customer experience today through data as well as experiential investigation. I think that's one. But beyond factoring these insights into your design process, actually getting to the level of moving from just how do I adjust the experience based on a customer's profile to adjusting the experience based on the individual themselves and who they are and where they're at in their journey with you? It's nearly impossible without the support of technology unless you're that small business that has that manageable set of customers. So I think that's where technology innovations that are available today, like using data and feeding that into ongoing improvements of artificial intelligence, as well as customer engagement tools, not only for the customer, but for the employee, can help you take that personalization really to the next level and make this concept of personalization at scale to improve the experience, something that's that's real and doable. And this is really… At Genesys how we're helping companies of all sizes. We provide some of that tech as well as the experience in how to do that, to make that experience unique to the individual, allowing businesses to really understand the customer, help them feel known, heard and understood, and then predict what need will be next and and deliver it in real time, stitching together all those channels across marketing and sales and service to really, you know, drive your business outcomes at the end of the day.

Steve:
I know that historically these kinds of systems have only really been available for the really big companies. But the cloud is really scaling this, right? That middle space between the the self proprietor that knows all his customers employees up to the mega corporation that has all the systems, there's a whole lot of companies in the middle that can now really take advantage of this kind of technology.

Janelle:
Absolutely. I'm so glad you mentioned that, because I know if you… if we were going to have this conversation five, 10 years ago that would have been reserved for the large enterprises with huge I.T. staff and big budgets and time to do this. Right? And now it doesn't have to be so hard. It can be accessible to a really a company of any size through the power of cloud technology. And it can be something that doesn't have to take a 12 month deployment cycle in terms of people. Right. I know we helped tons of companies all over the globe manage their contact center operations through this COVID 19 crisis and they were up and running with our cloud solution in a matter of 24 hours. So it's become so much more accessible for companies of any size.

Steve:
We've reached that part in the show, Janelle, where I ask every guest to provide their best take home value. That is a tip that our CX pros can go and put into use later today or first thing in the morning tomorrow and and make their customer experience program even better. So, Janelle Dieken, please give us your best tip.

Janelle:
Well, can I give two?

Steve:
Sure.

Janelle:
OK [laughing]

Steve:
That's extra… extra credit, actually.

Janelle:
Extra credit. So here's a really simple one fun little fact from the survey responses. We asked survey respondents to rate the type of on-hold music that they prefer the most when they're waiting to talk to someone. And there is this whole range of options.

Steve:
70s for me.

Janelle:
[Laughing] Interesting! The number one choice was classical music.

Steve:
Classical.

Janelle:
Yes. But right up there was country and hip hop. And as I was thinking about this, I can't remember the last time I called in and didn't hear classical music. So it tends to be sort of the norm, I think. Right? And so maybe something super easy you can try an experiment with is for various customers play around with just different on hold music and spice it up and kind of trigger a memory for them and and put a smile on their face. If they are waiting to talk to someone like that's number one. That's super easy.

Steve:
Wait. I got a question for you on number 1.

Janelle:
Yes.

Steve:
How about if the first question in the automated system was, you know, your estimated wait times, two and a half minutes. What kind of music would you like to listen to?

Janelle:
There you go. And then you can store that information and just play that back as part of their, you know, data set that you have. [Laughing]

Steve:
Sorry, I digressed. Good, great tip.

Janelle:
No, you're just taking this to the next level.

Steve:
No, I love it!

Janelle:
Maybe that is not an hour our effort or whatever, but could be a day or a week is goes back to some other survey responses where we asked top three most irritating aspects of customer service. It was too many automated options before talking to somebody being put on hold for more than five minutes and having to repeat yourself. Right. And interestingly, all three of those can be overcome with the use of A.I. and chat bots and voicebots where they're so much smarter and intelligent than they used to be years ago. And it's an area where that doesn't have to be difficult to implement. We've helped customers implement it in less than two weeks. We can help you in trying it. And in building one yourself over the course of an hour even. So, it's another, I think, shorter term little tip that you could consider to help overcome some of those here.

Steve:
Janelle Dieken, thank you so much for being a guest on The CX Leader Podcast. Really enjoyed talking to you. And congratulations on all the success at Genesys.

Janelle:
Thanks, Steve. It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Steve:
We're gonna post the link on the website so the people can get more information about the study. But if they would like to continue the conversation, are you on LinkedIn or can they find you on the Genesys Web site?

Janelle:
You can certainly find me. Janelle Deacon on on LinkedIn. Feel free to to to go to genesys.com and talk to somebody or trial out building a bot, get a demo to really easy to to get to the next step.

Steve:
Great. Thanks a lot. Janelle Dieken is the senior vice president for product marketing at Genesys, a global customer experience and contact center technology company based out of Daly City. And Janelle, thanks again for being on CX Leader podcast and best of luck to you. Thanks.

Janelle:
Thanks.

Steve:
And if you want to talk about anything you heard on this podcast or about how Walker can help your business customer experience, feel free to e-mail me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com. And be sure to check out our website, cxleaderpodcast.com, subscribe to the show and find all of our previous episodes, our different series and contact information. Even you can drop us a note if you'd like to think about what we're doing and have a suggestion. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, we're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for listening and we'll see you again next time.

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