Customers increasingly expect an experience that is connected and consistent across all the interactions they have with your brand. Cross-channel customer engagement was a great start in delivering a more consistent, intelligent customer service experience. But, the next challenge is cross journey.
Touch points in the customer journey are owned by different teams within an organization. It is difficult enough to get teams to coordinate with each other. To make matters worse, they often use different systems to manage customer interactions and those don’t talk either. The good news is that forces of progress are pushing all of us to break down these barriers. And, there is more evidence every day that the customer communication siloes are finally starting to come down.
Why now, you ask?
In short, because the stakes have never been higher. Businesses that succeed stand to win big, and those that don’t risk being at a competitive disadvantage. According to enterpriseinnovation.net, Michael Maoz at Gartner said, “Marketing may fill the sales funnel, and the sales department can close a deal, yet it is the overall impression of the enterprise generated by the quality of customer service that differentiates one enterprise from another.”
This makes the need for a cross journey approach critical to success. According to Maoz, this success “entails transforming the definition of customer service from its typical perception of an isolated function, into an enterprise objective across all customer contact points.”
At the same time, Gallup’s report on the State of the American Consumer points out that “while the recession and its continuing effect on customer behavior have devastated sales [for some], others have managed to succeed in this new normal by creating an aligned and integrated experience built on a foundation of exceptional service.” This creates what Gallup calls “fully engaged” customers that are loyal to the brand and promote it to others.
There is a growing recognition that customer engagement affects the bottom line. Recent Gallup research found that “customers who are fully engaged represent an average 23 percent premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth. In stark contrast, actively disengaged customer represent a 13 percent discount in those same measures.”
In response, companies are breaking down organizational silos to tap into those “fully engaged” customers. And, it’s being driven at all levels of the business. From a senior level, Forrester has talked about the “rise of the chief customer officer” – a position created to overcome the internal divisions that impede a holistic customer experience. In other cases, change is coming from grassroots efforts. The very teams that first implemented engagement programs are now hitting up against the limits of optimizing interactions in a silo. That is forcing them to have conversations across organizational lines in order to continue delivering performance improvements.
From a technology perspective, it all starts with the data. At Nuance, we are working with our clients to design and implement a cross journey roadmap using a flexible data model that eases integration. A successful data management strategy must also empower teams to create meaningful customer segments that drive personalized interactions. These segments can be used to maintain context. For example, customers who received a call to action can be treated differently when they call into the IVR, shortcutting the menus and getting them to their solution quicker.
Integrated interaction data also cuts down on over-communication and identifies instances where customer communication messages are not consistent. Ultimately, an integrated view of customer interactions – across systems, departments and data – will power anticipatory service through predictive analytics. Now THAT is the level of intelligent customer service that can truly differentiate your brand.