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The customer experience is in a constant state of flux. With both digital transformation and customer digital habits on the rise, enterprises must keep up with customers' ever-evolving expectations. Outdated methods of engaging with customers will no longer work to keep them loyal and brands competitive. In 2018, enterprises must think more strategically about interaction methods, like live chat and mobile, that have historically seen few investment dollars than the contact center. Here are six bad habits companies should shed to help them on the path to CX progress, as they make their resolutions for 2018.

Six bad CX habits to drop in the new year

Asking for emails at POS

Email addresses are one of the few tangible pieces of information that companies can easily gain from a customer. An email address turns into a marketing opportunity as it's added to a mailing list, a newsletter, or some other database. But repeatedly asking customers who are already in the database for their emails is annoying.

Rack Room Shoes, which is working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud, is solving the annoyance factor with that process by asking people to text their emails to a short code. The retailer has experienced fewer data errors using that procedure than it did when clerks typed in the addresses themselves, as well as greater opt in and a 15% increase in click-through.

Offering "live" chat that doesn't work

How many times has this happened to you this year? You hit the "chat with a live agent" button and no one shows up or you get this message:

Customers today want to interact with companies and agents the same way they do with friends and family: via a mobile messaging platform or text, and they want immediate resolution. An experience like this one doesn't help advance the customer experience. In fact, it will likely lead to customer defection. In 2018, companies must start viewing their chat agents as revenue streams that cut expenses and increase sales.

In addition to staffing up live chat agents or assigning dedicated chat teams, the use of AI-powered virtual agents and conversational commerce to engage with customers via messaging channels surely will help solve the chat latency problem in the coming months.

Thinking of mobile as a channel instead of a device

Mobile can no longer be thought of as a siloed channel. Rather, it's a device that customers use to interact with other true channels such as email, social, community feeds, messaging platforms, and click-to-call service. As enterprises develop their mobile strategies, they must optimize all processes and fields for mobile but also for the different environments.

Referring to all chatbots as AI

Writing code that seems intelligent is not the same as getting a machine to learn all by itself. A company can set rules and program the machine to do certain things when it comes across identified conditions. This is what we find in a lot of what is sold today as artificial intelligence. Simply put: chatbots are rules-based programs that use scripts to send automated messages that typically handle first-level queries. AI, or virtual agents, rely on machine learning algorithms to learn, self-correct, and even train agents. They incorporate natural language understanding and can integrate with or escalate seamlessly with live agents.

Pretending your chatbot is a human

Throughout the course of this year, I've encountered several vendors that have decided to pretend their chatbots are human, even giving them names and assigning them avatars. Ovum is a proponent of transparency with chatbot delivery. Customers need to know when they are communicating with a machine and not an actual human. It's the only way to build trust and set customer expectations when interacting with bots.

"When building a chatbot, transparency is a critical consideration," Rob High, CTO of IBM Watson, said in a recent interview. "This boils down to the question, Is it clear whether the user is talking to a bot or a human? Customers are savvy enough to be able to tell the difference and expect brands to be honest with them. Customers don't expect chatbots to be perfect, but they want to know what they can and cannot do, and that they are reliable … within reason."

Sending "no-reply" surveys and emails

It's hard to believe that ending one-directional emails would still be a resolution heading into 2018, but it is a habit many companies have yet to break. Every email or survey a brand sends to its customers should be considered an opportunity to gain feedback and increase engagement with customers. The ability to enable two-way dialogue also avoids sending customers to the contact center, increases issue resolution, and can more easily pinpoint areas across the organization that need attention.



Mila D'Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement

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