So there’s big news in search recently.

Accenture Analytics have acquired Search Technologies, a tech services firm that specialises in handling and implementing big data and search analytics. Now, Accenture Analytics is a big dog in the industry (as you probably already know); the fact they’re doubling down on their ability to collate customer data is a pretty good indicator of which way the wind is blowing.

At The Chat Shop, we try to keep our fingers on the pulse just like you do. And whilst some little developments here and there may give us the slip, there’s something we can’t help but notice this year: There's accelerating interest in customer experience management analytics.

Why invest in CX?

CX (Customer Experience) is the discipline of mapping a customer’s entire digital journey - everything from introduction to your brand to post-purchase customer service - in order to create as smooth, intuitive, and memorable an experience as possible. But the importance of customer experience is far more than a definition. 

At its core, good CX is about being able to predict what a customer wants, when in their journey they’re likely to want it, and meeting and exceeding their expectations. So, when we think about CXM as a process and practice, the relevance of analytics starts to become obvious.

Recently, Forrester found that companies who ranked highly on their CX Index, a compiled ranking of companies based on their commitment to quality CX, outgrew companies who scored at the bottom at a rate of five to one in revenue. And with The Chat Shop, we've seen how providing superior customer experience can send a 500% ROI.

Not bad, right?

The thing is, when we think about CXM, we’re talking about something that’s never been especially data-driven. Measuring customer satisfaction? Sure. But measuring customer experience? The experience a customer has with your brand seems entirely subjective: Do they find your site intuitive; Do they remember interactions with your staff in a positive light; Do they find your messaging welcoming and helpful?

We’re talking as much about your customers’ feelings and perceptions as we are about metrics and touchpoints.

So the question is: How do we use data to hack and reverse engineer our customer-centric agendas to achieve these positive, authentic customer experiences? And how does that translate into improved customer retention?

We’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at some actionable CX insights you can start delivering today.

Artificial Intelligence in analytics

Artificial Intelligence is old news by now. It’s been a buzzword on LinkedIn and Quora for 12 months and you’re probably thinking of permanently hiding it from your timeline if you see one more crap article on it. However it’s only recently that CX artificial intelligence has really come onto the scene and the discussion around it has enriched. We’re already hearing rumblings about “agent assist AI”: machine learning software that understands, analyses, and suggests responses for live conversations between customers and agents.

The idea is to provide real, actionable insights to your agents and brand ambassadors through real-time analysis of customer conversations. Your staff can proactively offer insights and advice before the customer even knows what to ask. It’s great stuff and it’s got the industry talking.

Earlier this year, Harvard published its yearly Business Review on quality CX and included the results of a survey with a 680-strong base of customer service decision makers. While a good website is still regarded as the most important part of a quality customer experience, respondents were adamant that predictive analytics will race ahead to take the number one spot in the next two years.

Even now research is showing that “90% of business managers believe analytics can improve sales, and another 62% report they believe analytics can increase sales by more than 20%.” Investing in customer experience artifiical intelligence software to make actionable predictions from all your customer data will be one of the best ways to stay agile – to spot opportunities earlier, so we can act faster.

It’s still early doors, but as CIOs, CXOs, and IT departments keep collaborating on their CX, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics will become a major player in achieving this. So now that we’re at the turn of the tide, how do we begin thinking about incorporating AI into our analytics systems for a CX-ier agenda?

You could be forgiven for thinking the development of sophisticated customer experience artificial intelligence software should start and end with your IT department, but when we look at the track record of the big digital disruptors (the Googles, Monetates, Ubers, and Airbnbs of the world), we see how every tool created to personalise and segment their CX effectively is coordinated with their CX department at every step of the way. 

And one of the primary reasons for this is measurement.

Measurement in CX

Measurement should be a huge component of CX. If the goal of CX is to provide your customer with a smooth journey from awareness to consideration to conversion to brand ambassador, then you’ve got a lot of data from each moment of truth to sift through.

Think of all the component parts of a customer’s touchpoints: the marketing emails sent out the app features; the information available to contact center representatives; the social media star ratings; the dynamic product pages; the tone of your content writing, product descriptions, and CS representatives; and the way returns are handled.

Those moments of truth are many.

So you’re asking, "How do we make this process better so the customer is more delighted and the business outcome is even more robust?" Investigating this means constantly measuring the impact of each individual component of the customer's mindset and behaviour at each moment of truth. Measuring these interactions isn’t easy, because it requires collecting data across many different touchpoints and then being able to correlate it so as to figure out the cause, but it’s worth your time.

As Daniel Davenport, Managing Director of LiquidHub, an agency that focuses on customer engagement, articulated, “I think it is important for the CIO to have a voice at the table and co-create the ultimate solution.” If we’re going to see how AI is going to meaningfully factor into your CX, your CX and CS department needs to collaborate with IT at day one.

One of the easiest ways to get started with measuring CX is with live chat software. Powered by The Chat Shop, our fully-automated and human-proofed live chat software now comes with its own powerful analytics and measuring tool so that you can explore your full data set from a customer's first touchpoint through their checkout process. If live chat outsourcing with the full package sounds good, ask for no-commitment consultation just to find out how we can help you measure and analyse your CX. 

Find out more

Chatbots and live chat in CX

For a long time, we thought Chatbots chatted chit. Now? We’re not so sure.

That said, there’s plenty of caveats to that statement. You need authenticity and human intuition in chat to make the most of the customer-retaining, lead-generating powerhouse that live chat can be. If you’re interested, this is something we’ve talked extensively about before.

However, if the volume of your customer queries is such that you need a means of filtering and segmenting their queries - or resolving the low-engagement, minimal-knowledge requests like password resets and FAQs - then automated bots become a powerful, effective, and low-cost CX tool. Just remember that bots can’t be expected to deliver the goods in high-value, high-stakes experiences; Facebook’s recent launch of a bot API for its Messenger IM service highlighted that only 30% of requests could be resolved entirely without a human stepping in. That means 70% of queries are going to make that bot go berserk. And what’s the ROI on that for your CX?

“While chatbots can serve as an efficient way to offer customers solutions to their problems, their future success will depend on how thoughtfully brands leverage them to meet customers’ needs. After all, delivering a great customer experience depends on it,” says Kristopher Arcand, a Forrester Data Analyst.

The reality is that the chatbot is representative of your brand and your service; it doesn’t send a good message if they’re getting spammed by a chatbot that can’t understand their query.

So, if you’re going to take live chat seriously as a means of optimising your CX, you need skilled human agents to do the heavy lifting: Providing that Human Touch that bots and scripts can’t deliver. But how can our human agents make use of the kind of tools and analytics we’ve been talking about? Enter: Knowledge bases!

Knowledge bases

The proliferation of knowledge bases being used in customer services is one of the best examples of human agents working in harmony with good data. From product-level troubleshooting through to contract queries, the ideal knowledge base will contain all the information your agents need to get to the crux of customer enquiries.

Almost as important, they’ll be able to do it quickly. It bridges the gap between your CS staff’s knowledge and the actionable insights your systems can glean from your customer’s queries and site activity.

It’s internal

By knowledge base, we’re not referring to the FAQs, how-to videos, and various other resources you put together for your website visitors. These are all fantastic for building a useful “self help” portal and should be the first priority of your site. The bottom line is customers ideally don’t really want to have to contact your site for support; if they end having to, it needs to be as frictionless and seamless an experience as possible.

No matter how user-friendly and informative your website, some customers will still have specific queries that need to be answered. And many will prefer to either get on the phone or drop a message to a real life person rather than searching through an online help centre. Your knowledge base is there to help your agents when that moment comes.

It’s reciprocal

What we want to emphasise here is that your knowledge base is not doing the work of your agents; it provides them with the space to play to their strengths. It takes skill, empathy, and intuition on the part of your agent to use a knowledge base effectively.

So for an example, if we look at our own knowledge base, we try to build an interface that’s clear and supports our agents in real time. The knowledge base is built in-house by our own knowledge base managers, who ensure the agents are familiarised with the system as early as possible and understand its advantages as well as its limitations. They know how to use the knowledge base but also know where they are going to need to apply their own intuition and experience.

These guys will have the knowledge base active whilst helping site visitors to identify what they need before providing their answer. If you want to find out how we examine and respond to visitor queries, read about our Explore, Identify, Match engagement methodology.

So a quality knowledge base is the exact opposite of a rigid script. It’s not a brochure, nor is it a ‘playbook.’ It’s more a portal, one that enables your staff to identify what customers need and prompt them with the right answers.

A knowledge base facilitates the kind of memorable CX that customers come to associate with a brand. Most importantly it does so quickly; sources indicate that 77% of customer cite “valuing their time” as the most important thing a brand can do to improve customer retention.

If we’re trying to create a seamless CX journey for customers, it starts with ensuring the right people or on hand with the right information at the right time. Careful investment in data driven tools for your staff like knowledge bases can go a long way to achieving this.

Personalisation and the Human Touch

Personalisation is quickly becoming one of online businesses’ key competitive factors: Pitney Bowes conducted research indicating that 73 percent of customer prefer to do business with brands that personalise their shopping experience.

With the online space becoming more and more competitive, delivering optimised and memorable personalisation rather than just basic segmentation is instrumental to customer retention and robust returns.

We’re moving in some pretty exciting directions right now. Quality CX and personalisation are becoming such high priorities in the industry and the potential returns are massive. Investment in AI and predictive analytics is on the rise and we’re getting better at interpreting customer data every day.

But our take home? The tools available to us are only as useful as the Human Touch allows. It’s how we generate actionable insights from data, it’s how we insert authenticity and empathy into our dealings with customers. It’s how we achieve that personalised CX and it’s how we turn queries into leads. The people are more important than the data. The right data needs to be in the right hands.

One of the reasons we’re big fans of knowledge bases here is that, when tooled up with the right knowledge, your staff can focus on what’s really important: Delivering that Human Touch with skill and precision. It means your agents are now far more capable of delivering a personalised - and memorable - customer experience. And that’s exactly what we’re after.

If you’re keen to know a little more about how the Human Touch can transform your personalisation efforts, feel free to head over to our to our How We Can Help page. Alternatively, if you’d like to hear a little more about what Live Chat can do to fit human-to-human experiences into your services, feel free to get in touch with us. We’d be happy to help – we live for this stuff!