Using Technology to Bring a Human Touch to Customer Experiences

December 12, 2019 Nicole Sholly

Many companies focus on bridging the divide between their employees and the technology they use to serve customers. Rightly so — workers can’t deliver seamless customer experiences without the tools necessary to do their jobs.  

At Dreamforce 19, Emma Annand of the Customer Success Marketing team at Salesforce, spoke with three experts about "finding the right way to bridge technology and humans to empower smooth and personalized customer service experiences.” 

The session was aptly titled, “Providing Deeply Personal Customer Experiences,” and we’ve distilled a few highlights for you here. 

Let technology get out of the way so employees can focus on customers 

Service agents who handle conversations with customers about life insurance plans and long-term care need to focus on empathy as much as on policies. Tracy Kelly, AVP, Contact Center at John Hancock Financial Services, said, “it's critical to me to make sure that our employees have the technology that enables them to do their job, with as minimal level of stress as possible.” 

Having the right technology in place involves transforming their contact center with Amazon Connect and Salesforce. (Amazon Connect is a cloud-based contact center solution that provides agents with one consolidated interface.) This state-of-the-art technology, said Kelly, makes agents’ jobs easier “in terms of managing the conversation and getting the information that they need to answer customer questions.”  

The results are impressive, with employees reporting less stress on the job because the technology lets them know why a customer is calling, enabling them to fully focus on that customer. This has led to increased employee engagement scores, and they’ve even seen, according to Kelly, a “dramatic increase in Net Promoter Scores as well.”  

For this increase in scores, Kelly credits the “frictionless experience” delivered by the Interactive Voice Response system when customers call in: Incoming callers navigate a phone system before talking to a human. They interact with “the bot” and can choose to self-serve or speak to an agent. If they choose the agent, they're routed to an agent equipped to address the inquiry and who also is provided the reason for the call. 

Let technology create customer service heroes 

As customer expectations continue to rise, companies are placing more emphasis on creating excellent customer experiences that include personalized service to remain competitive. Patrick Beyries, VP of Product Management at Salesforce, talked about companies who “empower and value their agents to deliver that personal service, and let the technology help them assist them, and even help them become heroes to their customers.” 

"The benefits of the Service Cloud console is the idea of bringing the right information together at the right time for an agent to help resolve that customer issue and, at the same time, allow the technology to help them elevate that conversation and focus on the customer.”  -Patrick Beyries

It’s easier for employees with the right tools to hone their skills and build insights that help that agent "deliver on the brand promise of customer service,” added Beyries. Better customer service leads to more loyal customers and better business outcomes overall.  

It is these types of results that, according to Beyries, “really have that transformational effect, not just on their service operations and their contact center, but on their business in general.” 

Let technology answer the “easy ones” 

Pasquale Demaio, a General Manager with AWS, was on hand to briefly describe Amazon Connect’s role in helping customer service agents more easily do their jobs.  

Demaio explained that Amazon Connect is being resold as a part of Salesforce Service Cloud Voice, “which takes a lot of the challenges that we've had over the years of taking a contact center and a CRM and putting them together. Instead of customers focusing on integration, now they can focus on innovation.” 

Innovating with Salesforce and with Amazon Connect is extremely fast. Demaio noted, "people can make changes in seconds and have them rolled out and employed.”

This enables companies to have an almost immediate effect on their end-customer experiences. From the agent perspective, automating the “easy things” — the password resets and balance questions, for example — allows the agent to focus on the more challenging customer issues that require a human touch.  

Looking at the future of experience, today 

The experts agreed that the key to delivering personal customer experiences is to keep evolving and pushing forward. As Beyries stated, “it's about setting up a platform for agility that allows [customers] to adapt to tomorrow's problems” — even the ones we haven’t thought of yet.  

Demaio concurred: “we're learning every day more about our customers and the tools we're going to build with AI, to be able to understand the information contained in the CRM and then provide that information to the agents.” 

Annand brought these sentiments back to Kelly and John Hancock’s contact center transformation, which has better prepared agents for the difficult conversations they’ve had.  

Kelly agreed, stating, "one of the earliest pieces of feedback we received from an agent was in terms of getting a call reporting a death; in life insurance, that's a fairly common call, and just understanding that somebody was calling in to report a death, the agent was able to offer condolences right up front and ensure the conversation was focused on helping that individual in a very emotional moment.” 

Accentuating human centricity 

The common thread in these points is the concept of human-centric technology. As Kelly succinctly put it, “I think of human-centric services as just designing your interfaces and your processes to be as simple as possible.” Technology after all should be making our lives easier, not harder. The goal is to ensure we’re building experiences that people — customers and employees alike — can go through with few hiccups. 

Finding ways to close that experience gap is what Appirio is dedicated to — by implementing tools like Salesforce for clients in a way that makes sense for each client's industry, employees, and way of doing business. 

To learn how Appirio is closing the experience gap and driving long-term value for clients, get in touch with one of our consultants today. 


About the Author

Nicole Sholly

With two decades of writing, editing, and author coaching experience, Nicole has written on topics ranging from big data security to improving employee workspaces to how to be a better wordsmith -- for Rackspace, Office Depot, Macy’s, Social Media Today, and others. When she’s not writing, editing, or otherwise playing with words, Nicole enjoys reading them.

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