Posts

#CXDay: Bridging the Gap for Great Customer Experiences

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

Happy CX Day! Today marks the 4th annual CX Day, a global celebration of great customer experience and the professionals who make it happen. There’s no escaping the fact that customer experience has become a key factor in customer purchasing decisions, often even outweighing price. And to say that delivering a positive experience can be challenging is certainly an understatement!

I was recently reading a blog post from Gartner about improving the customer experience by creating bridges between silos of engagement (more on that later), and it brought to mind a story about Waldameer Park, a small, family-run amusement park along the shores of Lake Erie in the US. In the 1990s, park owner Paul Nelson began the quest to build a new roller coaster, the Ravine Flyer II, to replace the original Ravine Flyer which closed in 1938. He was adamant that, like the original coaster, the new one cross over Peninsula Drive to give riders a unique, thrilling experience. Bridging the 4-lane highway, which is the only access road to popular Presque Isle State Park, became one of the main obstacles Paul would face in gaining approval to construct the new coaster.

Waldameer Park bridgeIn 2008, after nearly 20 years of planning, legal battles and long delays, the Ravine Flyer II opened – featuring a 165-foot-long arched bridge that takes riders over traffic on Peninsula Drive and back during their minute and a half long ride. Paul’s dedication to his vision paid off. The Ravine Flyer II won the prestigious ‘Golden Ticket Award’ as the best new ride in the world for 2008 by Amusement Today and park attendance jumped by 20% that season. The park has continued to maintain those increased levels of attendance in the years since the coaster opened, and the Ravine Flyer II is consistently ranked as one of the Best Wooden Roller Coasters in the world, reaching 5th place in 2016. Riders continue to rave about the experience of the Ravine Flyer II, many returning year-after-year to enjoy the coaster.

Just like bridging the 4 lanes of traffic was an obstacle for the construction of the coaster, so is the bridging of engagement silos for the improvement of the customer experience. According to Gartner analyst Gene Phifer:

“Delivering customer engagement in silos can significantly damage the customer experience. We predict that through 2020, silos of customer engagement will be one of the top three leading causes of customer dissatisfaction for enterprises across all industry segments.”

Even though silos may be the natural result of how your organisation is structured, your customers don’t care. They just want a smooth, seamless journey that enables them to remain oblivious to the fact that they may have transitioned from one internal silo to another. Mr Phifer continued:

“Bridging the silos of customer engagement leads to a seamless transition across channels and devices. Moving from a disconnected, siloed customer experience to a truly unified customer experience is an important step in maintaining and improving the customer experience. This may be nothing new, but the difference now is that it is no longer a ‘nice to have’. It has become a necessity for survival.”

That’s certainly some good food for thought as we celebrate CX Day and great customer experiences around the world. Organisations that want to be truly competitive need to take a step back and evaluate whether or not they are providing their customers with seamless, end-to-end engagement – even if their journeys feel like a roller coaster ride as they switch between channels and devices!

Whether or not you’re a roller coaster enthusiast, I’m sure you can appreciate that it was Mr Nelson’s unwavering commitment to his customer experience vision that made all the difference. While I’ve not met him personally, I’ve been told by someone who has that his passion for Waldameer Park and the experience of his park visitors is very obvious in every business decision he makes. Today we recognise him and all the customer experience professionals who are dedicated to bridging the gaps in order to deliver great experiences that make customers want to come back for more. Thank you for the hard work you do all year long!

 Photos courtesy of Mekis Construction.

The Smart Machines are Coming! Are You Ready?

By Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager (Global)

“Smart machines offer huge potential benefits to early adopters within financial services, even with regulators barring banks from some use cases. CIOs must proactively prioritize potential investments in smart machines and begin pilots in 2016.” *

Everything seems to be getting smarter these days – our phones, our TVs, our watches – and now even our banking experience. In their recent report Where Banks Can Use Smart Machines, Gartner Analysts Tom Austin and David Furlonger explore the impact six smart machines (smart vision systems, virtual customer assistants, virtual personal assistants, smart advisors, other natural-language processing technologies and smart campus infrastructure) will have on financial institutions during the next few years.

The report discusses both the direct and indirect impact these technologies will have on financial services and provides recommendations for CIOs and other business leaders on how to work together to exploit smart machines. Early adopters have the potential to take advantage of huge benefits, including a positive impact on customer experience, productivity and commercial value throughout the value chain.

Virtual customer assistants (VCAs) are one of the key smart machines discussed by Gartner. As a VCA vendor mentioned in the report, we at Creative Virtual have experienced first-hand the evolution of this technology within the financial sector. Like our phones and TVs, VCAs are becoming ‘smarter’ and have proven their value by improving customer experience while reducing support costs for organisations currently utilising the technology.

Gartner includes some powerful sample use cases of smart machines already being used by banks. Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) is included on this list with their VCA ‘Ask Sara’ which is powered by Creative Virtual’s V-Person™ technology. We know this is a great use case for financial organisations researching VCA technology. CBD has not only won several external awards for their VCA, but they have received a great response from their customers. They now offer ‘Ask Sara’ across desktops, mobiles, tablets and kiosks, and in 2015 implemented an Arabic version (in addition to the existing English version) of their VCA to provide a self-service option to even more of their customers.

“At CBD, our goal is to bring online banking to the next level: smarter, easier and responsive. Virtual Assistant Sara helps us do that across desktops, mobiles, tablets and kiosks.”

– Deputy General Manager, Personal Banking Group, CBD

Gartner’s Where Banks Can Use Smart Machines is available to download from Creative Virtual for a limited time (request your copy here), so don’t miss this opportunity to read the full report.

After reading the report, be sure to check out CBD’s Customer Success Story for more details about the implementation and positive impact of their VCA.

 

 

* Gartner, Where Banks Can Use Smart Machines, Tom Austin & David Furlonger, 16 January 2016

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.