Empathy in the CX Sector; Learning the Lessons of World Mental Health Day
October 10th, 2022 is World Mental Health Day. In the ever-shifting digital world, too often we forget to pause and take stock. World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to do precisely that; to think critically about what we can do to make our world a more comfortable place to live and work.
In the world of customer experience, World Mental Health Day is more essential than ever. CX is the science of people; it comes apart when we fail to put people first. When more and more interactions are handled by chatbots, when contact centers work to silence the customer rather than empower them, when engaging with customer service becomes a chore, rather than a delight; this is when we know we’ve lost sight of the human element.
Today, providing a connective, empathetic experience is essential to businesses. Customers are learning to put their own well-being first and realizing that they don’t have to do business with any organization that doesn’t respect that. Customers are prepared to make the hard decisions, discriminating on experience even more so than on price.
Supporting the mental health of your customers, then, is a priority for your CX. But what lessons can we learn from Mental Health Day, and how can your business implement them?
The numbers behind World Mental Health Day
At any given moment, 50 million Americans are suffering from mental health problems; one-sixth of the country. Of those, the most common ailments are depression and anxiety disorders, including PTSD, OCD, and phobias. More than 50% of those suffering from these conditions don’t receive treatment for them.1
For these people, contacting an organization’s customer service can be an anxiety-inducing, harrowing experience. When customer service architectures are built to funnel customers into automated resolutions, the customer can feel ignored, unwanted, and dehumanized.2 As customers learn to better manage their mental health, you can find your business left behind.
Mental health is at the core of customer experience and is only growing more important. As inflation continues to rise, customers find their pockets increasingly bare. In the UK, 89% of adults report that their living costs have increased, and millions will struggle to meet rising costs this year.3 That’s not the only lingering consequence of the pandemic; depressive disorders rose by 25% during 2020 and don’t seem likely to decline soon.4
Mental well-being is a priority for your customers, and that’s not about to change in the near future. Successful CX will depend on creating experiences that make your customers feel respected, supported, and humanized. In a word, the future of customer experience is empathetic.
Humanizing the omni-channel experience
At the core of customer service is human interaction. The customer is obviously keen to have their issue resolved, but often they’re looking for something more. Even if it’s not stated, the customer is looking for trust. They’re looking for an explanation that makes sense. They’re looking for recognition of their feelings. They’re looking for reassurance that it won’t happen again.
Trust is something that you simply can’t get from a chatbot interaction or a self-serve IVR. Customers want agents that can function as advocates; who can make them feel that they have a voice in that your business will hear.
An omni-channel CX solution allows your customer to reach you over the channels most convenient to them, whenever they need to. In this omni-channel reality, human interactions are not limited to over-the-phone conversations. Customers expect to be able to contact an agent over SMS, webchat, email, and more. The digital customer can easily tell the difference between an automated chatbot and a human agent. You need to make certain that your most essential interactions are being handled by human agents, and that those agents are equipped with the data and technology to build a meaningful customer relationship.
Empowering the agent
When it comes to building customer trust, a seamless experience is essential. Any delays, any friction in the customer journey, will undermine your agent’s efforts to build rapport with the customer. When the customer reaches out, your CX solution should be able to quickly and accurately route them to the agent best equipped to resolve their inquiry. Your customers shouldn’t be forced to wait in queues, uncertain as to whether they’ll get an answer at all.
With powerful AI-backed tools such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), this becomes easier than ever. Customers can call or text, and your CX solution will transcribe and process their unstructured speech. From here, the customer is routed to an agent based on skillset, experience, or even personality. No button-pushing required.
On the other side of the coin, trust-building experiences depend on engaged agents. If an agent seems uninterested, rude, or even uncertain, those emotions are passed on to the customer. Giving your agents the tools they need to succeed is essential to creating this mindset. A single interface that unifies all channels of customer contact, and that enables flexible homeworking, should be your first step.
Agents need data to thrive. You need to ensure your agent interface integrates directly with your system of record, to provide the agent with essential customer data as and when they need it. This prevents the agent from having to ask clarifying questions, letting them get straight into establishing a connection with the customer.
Empowering your agents with a powerful, dynamic workspace is a key step toward putting customer well-being at the core of your CX solution.
Creating experiences with a human touch
Obviously, agents aren’t always available to answer every contact. At times of peak demand, expecting your agents to build trusting relationships with customers is unreasonable. At times like these, you need to deliver the best experience you can without asking the impossible from your agents.
Intelligent Automation offers a solution here. Digital chatbots can respond instantly to customer inquiries online and via text, delivering automated interactions with a human touch. Through NLP, these chatbots can understand unstructured text in the way a human would, responding to a customer’s questions accurately and effectively. By linking the customer to knowledge articles, they can provide the next steps to give the customer agency over their problem. If none of this solves the issue, the customer can be escalated to a human agent.
By automating even a small number of inquiries, you can take the pressure off your agents. If you can give your agents space to do their best work, the quality of customer interactions will improve. Empathy will be at the heart of every interaction, taking your customer experience to the next level.
Empathetic experiences with storm®
To deliver an empathetic customer experience, you need a powerful CX solution.
storm® is Content Guru’s cloud-based CX solution, providing everything you need to deliver the empathetic interactions that will set your business apart. From an omni-channel interface to AI-backed Machine Agents, storm makes empathetic engagement easy.
When it comes to empowering your agent, the first step is the agent interface. storm DTA® is a flexible, intuitive interface; based in the browser, the DTA (or Desktop Task Assistant) can be accessed from any internet-enabled device, allowing your agents to work comfortably from home. Through the DTA, agents can initiate and respond to interactions over any channel, whether over the phone or digitally, without having to switch applications.
With brain®, Content Guru’s AI toolkit, you can create intelligent Machine Agents™ that deliver automated experiences with a human touch. These Machine Agents make use of NLP to make these interactions as authentic as possible. By taking the burden off of your agents, you can free them to deliver empathetic experiences to your most essential customers.
World Mental Health Day highlights the challenge of providing empathetic experiences to customers. Content Guru makes delivering empathy easy.