I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I’m pretty sure Maya Angelou’s quote wasn’t talking about employee or customer experience (or anything to do with software for that matter). But then again, she was a very smart woman ahead of her time, so let’s not rule it out completely. What I do know is that making people feel good by truly delighting them – whether they’re your customers or colleagues – is pretty thin on the ground. Satisfying customers isn’t enough. You must proactively and deliberately delight them. It’s ironic that in the digital era of automation, service, and convenience, delight keeps falling through the gaps.
There are a lot of good customer service intentions, of course, but they typically collide and crumble when they hit the wall of instant gratification that the digital economy has bestowed on us. For all the innovation and technology at our fingertips, the expensive and uncomfortable truth is that most business software hasn’t kept up with sky-rocketing customer service expectations. One of the most visible examples is first-generation SaaS.
Don’t get me wrong, first-generation SaaS was good for its time. Twenty years ago, it freed organizations from the shackles of their restrictive client-server relationships. But the world has moved on and legacy SaaS software just hasn’t. It was never designed with end-users in mind, it imposes the burden of high total cost of ownership and long time to value, is bloated with feature complexity and isn’t appropriate for every size of business.
While most of these legacy SaaS vendors have all now become software giants in their own right, their growth in size and profits over the past two decades has failed to keep pace with rising customer service levels. Their products are aimed at the enterprise business buyers writing the checks, rather than the customer service agents solving the problems. The overlooked irony in all of this is that solving issues for the frontline means that your upstream data is actually better able to serve upper management – but that’s a whole other article.
So why then are we tolerating these shortcomings and are we even aware of their invisible overheads? Recent research shows that US sales and service agents waste a combined 516 million hours a year trying to navigate their software. The squandered hours are a result of these agents searching for information, clicking through confusing menus and working around glitches and/or dealing with missing functionality. It’s estimated to cost $8.3 billion in lost productivity every year.
Delight should be easy. And that’s where next-generation SaaS really shines. Modern functionality should augment human engagement. It’s intuitive, easy to use, rapid to onboard and affordable for organizations of all sizes.
Renowned MIT professor and serial inventor, Alan Kay, famously said that context is worth 80 IQ points. He’s right. That’s why next-generation customer and employee engagement delivers personalized, context-aware interactions across multiple channels using AI and Machine Learning to enable the best experience possible. This means service agents are not only able to be highly responsive to customer inquiries, but also consistently exceed customer expectations. It fosters growth, boosts retention, reduces friction to adoption and accelerates time to value. This in a nutshell, is how you make delight easy.
Taking what have traditionally been difficult software problems, such as integrating AI and omni-channel communications and making them ready to go “out of the box” is powerfully simple. Specialist bots, for example, can help customer self-service some of the commonly occurring transactions like order status, change delivery address, etc.
By putting more power into the hands of end-users through intuitive interfaces, easy integrations, straightforward workflows with more autonomy, scalability, intelligence and affordability, you unleash productivity. You can also empower an entire industry to claw back those millions of lost hours clicking multiple tabs and navigating software that’s indifferent to both the service agent and customer being served.
During the pandemic, for example, we helped one of the largest event and concert ticket marketplaces deal with huge surges in customer demand. The company was experiencing 70,000 calls a day from customers needing refunds for cancelled events or to reschedule new dates. Our chatbots helped service agents delight customers by just how quickly and easily they could help resolve issues – smoothly and without any hassle. If I had the space, I’d also tell you about the 50,000+ other user stories of how we’re making delight easy everyday around the globe. (I’ll go into more detail and explain the ‘Delight Index’ in one of my upcoming articles.)
A few years ago, none of this would have been possible. First-generation SaaS was pretty much the only thing on offer. Organizations tolerated the shortcomings as there simply wasn’t anything else and it was an improvement on what came before. Customer and employee delight wasn’t even a consideration, let alone a priority. Not anymore. To quote the wise words of Maya Angelou again:
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.