Why are companies increasingly competing on customer experience? Think about how high the bar has been raised by disruptive brands like Uber and Amazon—we’ve latched onto innovative concepts like on-demand transport and same-day deliveries as though they’ve been around for decades, proving that customers are not averse to change when it results in greater convenience.
Have we become spoiled? Perhaps, but businesses cannot deny how much of an impact CX has on the modern consumer. They are more likely to compare every interaction they have with a business to the best customer experience they’ve had, even if those businesses are not closely related. Our annual Benchmark Report analysed 45,000 companies worldwide and found that 46 per cent of customers admit to having higher expectations, and 59 per cent of support agents have recognised it too.
While it may seem unfair to compare an on-demand service to something like waiting at the Post Office, every business needs to consider how to continuously deliver better customer experiences that can compete with the likes of today’s leading brands. They have to realise how to deliver the speed, convenience and personalisation that customers are looking for—but first, they need to find the technology that can make it happen.
A more holistic approach
When attempting to create better customer experiences, the greatest obstacle that businesses often face is dated technology. Legacy customer relationship management (CRM) systems cannot handle vast amounts of customer data from various sources, leaving valuable information siloed in the place where interactions occur and disconnected from other relevant data points.
Consider the concept of omnichannel customer service. Traditionally, a customer might use various channels when they look for support, such as a live chat conversation followed by a phone call. Each interaction probably contained pertinent information, but if the support channels were both overseen by different agents, then two different understandings of the customer’s issue could exist. In omnichannel support, relevant data points from different support channels are all captured in a single support ticket, providing a complete picture of the customer’s enquiry.
Now apply that idea in a broader sense, where a business would be able to take in relevant data points from anywhere deemed important for the customer. A hardware manufacturer could utilise IoT sensors to report on the health of their product, or a retail company’s online service could know if a customer had an in-store interaction related to a purchase. Connecting data points in a way that’s beneficial to the customer experience provides a full understanding of how the customer has interacted with the business.
Getting a complete picture of the customer isn’t always simple with legacy CRM systems, which often restrict developers with proprietary data models and programming languages. Many modern tools use technology that differs from legacy CRM, meaning that if businesses wish to take a holistic and more future-proof approach to CX, they will need more flexibility in their CRM systems.
Working out what matters
Even with the right systems and tools in place, it can be difficult to know which bits of customer data are worth capturing. The correct answer is: you won’t know until you try.
Organisations which allow themselves to experiment and innovate have the highest potential to improve their customers’ experiences. These may include quantifying interactions, such as customer waiting times and agent response times, or trying out native and social messaging aligned with their customers’ channel of preference. As customer expectations shift, it’s the organisations which enable themselves to be flexible with different approaches that stay ahead.
We’ve seen it with businesses that have experimented with proactive engagement—the act of reaching out to a customer with a personalised interaction and helping them before they even know they need support. These businesses connect customer data sources with important insights, such as the time of day customers prefer interactions or the status of an order, to create a personalised message. By taking a strategic, data-informed approach, they are able to deliver relevant information and continually optimise their messaging strategy with specific insights into what works and what doesn’t. We have found that 90 per cent of customers look favourably or are neutral towards proactive outreach, especially when businesses create meaningful messages driven by relevant customer data.
Building today’s extraordinary
Building experiences that can go toe-to-toe with today’s top brands means doing what they do: considering every possible aspect customers care about and finding opportunities to innovate. It takes consistent perseverance and optimisation, but organisations can make it easier on their CX leaders and developers by having the right technology in place. It’s hard to say how customer expectations will shift in the future, but the data suggests that they are only growing higher.