There is broad recognition that today’s ’empowered’ customers are changing the fundamentals of doing business. The result: most companies are executing strategies that place the customer at the center. The customer himself gets to decide and inform the business if they are providing good customer service – or not. And, if the customer experience is good – or not. It is this customers’ perceptions of you and your company that count. Not yours. The only thing you can do is hope that your goals for their positive perception also becomes their reality.
Today’s markets are unforgiving, customers are not tolerant, and new competitors ready to take advantage of any shortcomings. Now add the gig economy, robotic outsourcing, and disruption-as-a-rule innovation cycles, and a consumer who can Google competitors instantly, and it is easy to see that companies can no longer take customer loyalty for granted. Instead, they must earn it repeatedly, with each interaction across the customer’s journey. This means that sales and support staff must know what their customers want and need, to boost retention and drive sales.
According to global research firm Forrester, the problem is one of magnitude and speed. Many companies have underestimated the magnitude of change needed to operate a customer-obsessed business, and the speed required to catch up with dynamic customers and disruptive competitors.
Upgrading customer experience
Most companies focusing on customer experience think about touchpoints — the individual transactions through which customers interact with parts of the business and its offerings. This is logical. It reflects organization and accountability, and is relatively easy to build into operations. Companies try to ensure that customers will be happy with the interaction when they connect with their product, customer service, sales staff, or marketing materials. But, this siloed focus on individual touchpoints misses the bigger picture: the customer’s end-to-end experience. A meaningful improvement in performance can be visualized only by seeing the customer experience through the customer’s own eyes.
A unified and seamless customer experience is a significant step towards meaningful interactions, putting the customer at the heart of support services. Brands can inspire trust and gain valuable insights by following the means of communications preferred by the customer, and by aggregating conversations across various channels. By giving sales and support teams the ability to view previous communications via many channels, staff can answer customer queries and concerns with confidence – knowing that they have all the information needed to provide a personalized approach, and above all, offer a superior customer experience.
Digital Transformation – getting started
1) Make it personal before they take it personally: Customers expect a consistent experience wherever and whenever they engage with your business (Via your website, social media, mobile, in person). Many companies we speak to have spent a lot of time and investment in tools like marketing automation, website etc., to revolutionize their customer experience, but so many are unaware of the efforts they could be doing via the telephone.
2) A seamless multi-channel experience: Technology has empowered customers to get what they want, whenever they want, and how they want. More than half of all consumers now expect a customer service response within one hour. They also expect the same response times on weekends as on weekdays. This need for instant gratification has forced organizations to remain accessible 24×7. Everything is now happening in real time, which is why companies who can offer immediacy, personalization and accessibility to their customers will win. Today’s consumers are not tied to any single channel. They browse in-store, shop online, share feedback through mobile apps and ask questions for your support team on social media networks.
3) An agile, flexible IT environment: Having the right technology to power up digital strategies is fundamental in today’s business world. Fortunately, organizations recognize the need for implementing agile systems, and 86% of businesses believe that cloud technology is critical to digital transformation. The cloud enables companies to be fast, dynamic and flexible – giving your organization the ability to test new projects that are cost-effective and low-risk – allowing you to use technology to meet customer demands faster. By easily connecting cloud applications such as customer databases, Big Data analytics, web and mobile apps, you can digitally record all touch-points to create a 360-degree view of your customer. By using this data, you will learn how, when and why your customers do business with you and from it, you can provide a better, more improved customer experience.
Three aces to win
Leadership teams responding to a customer-led market are asking a simple yet profound question: How do we operate to win? It’s not simple to answer, as operational change — and associated people change — is seismic, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But it’s also not elective. The market fundamentals are simply too different to force old structures into this new reality. Leaders are making the shift now to gain the first-mover advantage, and aggressively addressing threats from disruptors, focusing on personalized client experience, and delivering cross-functional consistency throughout the customer journey. By focusing on these three factors, you will help your organization embrace the new digital landscape, exceed customer expectations and improve the overall customer experience.
“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations!!”