Why are companies increasingly competing on customer experience? Think about how high the bar’s been raised by disruptive brands like Uber and Amazon—we’ve latched onto innovative concepts like on-demand transportation and same-day deliveries as though they’ve been around for decades, proving that customers aren’t averse to change when it results in greater convenience.
Have we become spoiled? Maybe, but businesses can’t deny how much of an impact CX has on the modern consumer. They're more likely to compare every interaction they have with a business to the best customer experience they’ve had, even if those businesses aren’t closely related. Our annual Benchmark Report that analyzed 45,000 companies worldwide found that 46 percent of customers admit to having higher expectations, and 59 percent of support agents have recognized it too.
While it may seem unfair to compare an on-demand service to something like waiting at the DMV, 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 realize how to deliver the speed, convenience, and personalization 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 aren’t enabled to 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 reach out for support, like a live chat conversation that’s followed by a phone call. Each interaction likely 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 a customer’s inquiry.
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 utilize 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 as it 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 if businesses want to take a holistic and more future-proof approach to CX, they'll need more flexibility out of their CRM systems.
Figuring 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.
Organizations that allow themselves to experiment and innovate have the highest potential to improve their customers’ experiences. It can include quantifying interactions, such as customer wait 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 organizations that 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 personalized interaction and helping them before they know they need support. These businesses connect customer data sources with important insights, like the time of day when customers prefer interactions or the status of an order, to create a personalized message. By taking a strategic, data-informed approach, they’re able to deliver relevant information and continually optimize their messaging strategy with specific insights into what works and what doesn’t. We’ve found that 90 percent of customers look favorably 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 that customers care about and finding opportunities to innovate. It takes consistent perseverance and optimization, but organizations 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’re only growing higher.