As the global business world operates within a new landscape that includes artificial intelligence and machine learning, providing high-quality digital customer service is vital. After all, our technology may be changing, but our nature as customers remains the same: we expect our issues to be resolved quickly and our purchases to be frictionless.
While B2B enterprise companies understand this, the problem is that they need to quickly integrate and scale AI and Cloud technologies that can provide real-time insights into customer journeys and interactions. Without that information, they cannot analyze customers’ behavior or preferences. This leads to higher operational costs, incorrect strategic or data-based decisions, decreased customer engagement, and a poor customer experience. That ultimately drives down a company’s ROI.
Businesses can increase their revenue by improving their customers’ online experiences
I have worked for the past seven years to use data insights to provide customers with seamless and omnichannel digital experiences. I lead in a critical role for managing and driving digital product management and customer engagement for next-gen AI-based Reporting and Analytics products. As I have led multiple cross-functional product teams on digital product execution, product as well as business strategy, and advanced statistical analysis, I have launched multiple digital products that improve customer experiences, organizational processes, and operational decision-making for B2B enterprise technological advancements and cost reductions.
Because of my experiences, I have come to believe that the solution for companies is twofold:
- We must develop seamless digital customer journeys that use omnichannel (voice, email, chat, call, text, and social media) integrations to enhance customer experiences.
- We must create data-driven intelligent contact centers to better understand, predict, and model customer behavior for better customer interactions and for reducing the total cost of ownership and business complexity.
Companies can strategically drive stronger relationships with customers in a digital age
I have drawn upon my experiences at Cisco (and previously Deloitte) to create a four-step approach that can help businesses to provide superior digital customer experiences:
- Customization through digital product management is key. Every business has unique needs and requirements, so a one-size-fits-all approach to digital contact center solutions will not work. Providing a customized solution through well-rounded digital product management meets the specific needs of B2B customers and is crucial to delivering value. A good use case is digital product management that allows for optimizing a dynamic workforce and scheduling across agents, supervisors, and staffing analysts. This, in turn, will provide flexible, iterative, and optimized analytics as well as multi-channel queuing and data prioritization, all of which improve sales, customer retention, organizational operational efficiencies, and connected digital customer experiences.
- AI-based insights can drive meaningful improvements and operational decision-making. AI-powered analytics and data insights can help businesses identify trends, optimize processes, and improve customer experience. By using these insights, businesses can leverage a product’s next-gen reporting, analytics, and visualization features to make data-driven decisions and continuously improve their operations. Another use case is AI-powered voice and virtual chat agents to provide continuous support and generate operational efficiencies with advanced reporting and analytics across digital customer journeys. This strategy can solve customer issues in the shortest time possible and leverage data trends to improve the customer experience.
- Seamless digitization and integration are critical. A digital cloud-based contact center needs to integrate seamlessly with the existing systems and technologies that B2B customers are using. It is essential to eliminate legacy and manual processes that customers rely on to improve customer engagement and experiences. Product strategies that support this are key for delivering state-of-the-art platform solutions.
- The human touch is still needed. While I value the valuable insights and automation that AI can provide, I strongly believe that the human touch is crucial for delivering high-quality customer service. Ensuring customers have access to well-trained and knowledgeable agents is essential for building long-term relationships.
Next steps for businesses that aim to improve online interactions with customers
B2B customers (enterprise or SMBs) should identify strategic initiatives for leveraging product management and AI capabilities to build channels or funnels to orchestrate frictionless digital customer interactions. Accelerated digitization enabled with AI and data-driven decision-making should be used to manage and route incoming communications through omnichannel-agent-based or virtual-bot-based digital contact centers.
By doing so, companies will improve operational efficiencies, increase process visibility, drive customer engagement, and resolve customer issues as quickly as possible. The emphasis on innovation and customer demand is necessary for customer retention and adoption of new digital solutions.
About Varun Kulkarni:
Varun Kulkarni is an AI/ML, Cloud Modernization, and Digital Transformation Product Leader with 7 years of experience across the technology, healthcare, and consumer services sectors. As a Senior Product Manager at Cisco, he manages its next-gen B2B and B2C AI/ML Reporting & Analytics as well as Cloud Modernization product portfolio. Previously, Varun was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte, leading its Strategic Consulting and Product Management verticals for the digital transformation of Fortune 500 and public-sector clients.
Varun earned his MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and his MS from Northwestern University. He is also an Admissions Council Member and Alumni Mentor for Northwestern University, a University of Washington MBA EDGE Mentor, and a Criya Featured Expert for Mentoring. To connect with Varun, please reach out to him via LinkedIn.