There is value in knowing something useful about every customer and learning something about each customer in every interaction.
Customers have high expectations that things will work the way they want each and every time. They won’t accept poor or outdated customer experiences. Today’s competitive landscape requires service providers to focus on winning and keeping individual customers. Accurate customer insight, obtained through analytics tools, but used in practical ways, can be the cornerstone for revitalizing a customer experience. There is value in knowing something useful about every customer and learning something about each customer in every interaction.
The Multiple Message Problem
For many years, service providers have tried to improve each customer interaction through better communication. What has often evolved, however, is an architecture that generates multiple messages in different formats from a variety of disconnected systems. These messages have not been consistent. While each system may produce a message that seems appropriate and contextual at a particular moment in time within a specific channel, in aggregate the messages often differ from or contradict each other.
Redefining Challenges in Order to Address Them
There are several key issues to tackle in redefining and enhancing a typical customer experience.
- First, improvement of call center performance or web site usability alone is not enough anymore. We live in a multi-channel world where customers use a wide range of touch points in order to complete tasks; enabling a strong customer experience means delivering an optimized and consistent journey across all of those touch points in a customer-centric way.
- Second, service providers need to understand and predict customer behavior rather than asking customers about their preferences. This is a data-driven exercise that has to be approached from a cross-channel and multi-service point of view, which likely means redefining data collection methods, reports, and relevant metrics.
- And third, all customer-facing messages should be anticipated, personal and relevant. Service providers cannot be perceived as yet another source of meaningless spam. Privacy management allows customers to control what kind of information they want to receive and to opt-in and opt-out as needed, but that also must be complemented with messaging that is useful, interesting, and succinct in the first place.
Pragmatic Best Practices
The best approach to tackle these issues is to establish a true and open dialogue with the customer. Ideally, this dialogue is one which the customer initiates, or at least anticipates and does not disregard.
The obvious question is: how can organizations engage in this kind of high value conversation with its customers? According to Gartner, in addition to direct methods, such as asking for feedback, there are indirect methods such as collecting information from social media and chats as well as inferred methods such as looking at customer behavior pattern analyses.
Organizations have many sources of customer information and yet, on average, they only use roughly 20 percent of the data they have available. It‘s essential to tap into the other 80 percent, which typically means pulling data together from otherwise disparate sources, in order to build customer insight, using domain-specific analytics tools, as opposed to generic tools or less flexible data warehouse systems. They should be able to look closely at each customer and compare them against profiles of other customers who have previously responded to their efforts in the past. As a result, from the very beginning of any interaction providers are aware of possible pitfalls, opportunities and customer preferences. This information then must be injected into the systems and processes that govern cross-channel customer interactions in ways that are easily accessible to agents or customers.