It’s easy to believe that customer experience (CX) results from a series of individual touchpoints, from social media communications and sales engagements to service and support encounters. Today’s high-touch customers, however, don’t see these interactions as discrete events but rather as one continuous conversation with a company. As a result, savvy executives understand that to use CX for competitive advantage, their customer-facing staff must be ready to switch hats on the fly and to do so flawlessly.
But pitfalls abound, including having slices of customer data locked within separate departments, which makes it difficult for reps to see a complete picture of each individual. Data overload is another hang-up. Successful CX requires tools to help reps make informed decisions in real time so customers feel understood and valued.
Fortunately, companies have new technology options for achieving what I call connected intelligence, the key to overcoming many CX pitfalls and turning CX into a competitive advantage.
The Power to Pivot
To imagine connected intelligence in action, consider the call center rep who’s speaking with a longtime customer about a dishwasher that’s gone haywire. During the troubleshooting process, the rep and the customer realize that instead of a technician coming to revive the machine, a better option would be an energy-efficient replacement. Suddenly, the service call becomes a sales conversation. To satisfy the customer, the rep now has to make a series of decisions, such as how to tailor a promotion that closes the deal and discourages the caller from comparison shopping. If that works, the same rep must be ready to discuss service contracts and perhaps offer free shipping and disposal of the old unit.
This seamless flow begins with a solid foundation of customer data. The IoT, customer sentiment inputs from social media, and a wide range of other innovations, are giving companies a clearer picture than ever of their customers and prime prospects. AI is helping turn all that information into valuable insights by highlighting essential data points that show reps what options to focus on as they’re working on each encounter.
How can progressive executives fully capitalize on data and advanced analytics to become CX leaders in their markets? They can start by focusing on three areas.
First, ensure that CX activities are supported by the widest-possible array of data. That means looking beyond traditional customer profiles held in customer relationship management systems. Companies can now gain an even deeper understanding of their customers by adding detailed, anonymized information from third-party data brokers that collect insights about key demographic groups, including their lifestyle and purchasing preferences.
Second, use today’s advanced analytics to transform, not merely automate, current CX processes. Embed AI and its power for assisted decision-making at every touchpoint: Should we extend this customer’s warranty? Should we offer a rebate on a new product? AI doesn’t replace a human’s expertise; it simply sifts through available data so reps can make better decisions more quickly.
Next, consider adding a new position to the org chart: chief customer officer. This person’s prime responsibility would be customer retention, and to do that he or she would have full visibility into all relevant departments, including sales, marketing, and customer service. This executive would also have the authority to make any changes necessary to improve CX. For instance, if service people have a history of arriving late for appointments or frequently don’t resolve problems on the first visit, the chief customer officer could authorize enhanced training or additional staff.
CX is a continuous conversation between companies and their clients. Keep the dialogue flowing by applying advanced analytics to today’s rich reserves of data.
(Photography: Theo Stroomer/The Verbatim Agency)