Successful CX requires businesses to be customer-centric and technology-agnostic
In today’s business environment, delivering a good customer experience (CX) has become the baseline. Yet, there are so many communications channels and tools available, where do organisations even start? It comes down to identifying where their customers are, before gaining the necessary insights in order to drive sustainable change that brings about business success.
Retaining customers becomes especially crucial in the prevailing tougher economic conditions. Think of it, a business puts much effort and resources into winning customers and it is equally important to continue to deliver a good quality, personalised customer service in order to retain these customers. This is easier said than done: while 4 out of 5 organisations consider themselves to be customer-centric, only 1 out of 5 customers think that the brands they interact with are customer-centric.
This shows a stark disconnect between how the two parties view customer experience. It asks the question as to whether organisations are truly listening to the voice of their customers and testing whether they are implementing technology for technology’s sake, or if they are doing something that works for the customer. It becomes crucial for brands to understand that technology is not customer experience, it is just an enabler and they still need a committed team to support.
Understanding what CX really means for business
Author and design expert Matt Watkinson defines CX as “the sum total of all interactions a customer has with a company, across all channels, over time.” He further argues that CX is essential for business success, as it can lead to increased customer loyalty, advocacy, and profitability. He identifies some key focus areas for CX in his book, “The 10 Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences“:
- Make it easy – Customers should be able to easily interact with your company at all touchpoints, from your website to your customer support team.
- Be relevant – Personalise your interactions with customers to show them that you understand and care about their needs.
- Be responsive – Respond to customer inquiries and requests promptly and efficiently.
- Be consistent – Deliver a consistent experience across all channels and touchpoints.
- Be proactive – Anticipate customer needs and take steps to meet them before they even ask.
- Be human – Build relationships with customers and make them feel valued and appreciated.
- Be transparent – Be honest and upfront with customers about your products and services, and any potential problems.
- Be empowering – Give customers the tools and resources they need to make the best decisions for themselves.
- Be forgiving – When things go wrong, apologise to customers and make things right.
- Be memorable – Create experiences that customers will remember and talk about positively.
In another analogy, Michelle Badenhorst – a local industry veteran in CX, customer journey mapping and design and systems thinking – likens customer experience to a chocolate cake with three different layers:
- Customer understanding (Voice of the Customer)
- Employee feedback (Voice of the Employee)
- Process insights (Voice of the Process)
She points out that the desire to create an authentic customer experience requires an organisation to get their whole team onboard as they shift toward becoming more customer-centric as it is the employees who will fuel this change. As such, the employee experience is equally important; it will be very difficult for a business to see an improvement in the CX it delivers if employees are not on the same page as the leadership and believe in the strategy of improving CX. Getting employees onboard also means that there is ownership of the various elements in this shift to being more customer-centric.
In saying that, there has to be a distinction between customer experience and customer service: CX is about creating a memorable moment (the feeling the customer gets from interacting with a brand), whereas customer service is the enablement thereof (what is the brand doing for the customer). The two are symbiotic and one is not more important than the other.
How to enable good CX?
So then, even as businesses are becoming aware of the need to deliver good quality customer experience, it can get confusing when considering where do they even start if they are to make a meaningful difference. It starts with realising that even though there are numerous communications channels and technology tools on the market, they do not have to do it all.
The key here is to be where their customers are in order to be relevant. Deploying customer-facing people and technology toward channels that customers don’t use is a waste of time and resources, while adding communications channels that the business is not able to adequately support will simply erode credibility and deteriorate the overall customer experience. Businesses have to make sure that they have consistent service experience and brand voice across the different channels that you are deploying.
What is certain is that a key building block to good CX is having a good customer relationship management (CRM) system and being able to integrate it with their communications tools. These communications tools can provide either multichannel capabilities (which focus on customer engagement, channel-centricity and quantity of channels) or omnichannel capabilities (which focus on customer experience, customer-centricity and quality of customer support).
As an example, Telviva Omni allows for the management of different channels in a single pane of glass. This includes bringing open channels – any type of integration that a customer wants e.g. from a legacy CRM – into a single view. This is crucial from an agent experience or employee experience point of view, as it aids in delivering a good, personalised customer experience.
Taking an omnichannel approach also allows for brands to better respond to customer needs when it comes to interaction and engagement. For example, we are seeing a drop in voice calls and this decline is projected to continue into the future, with more interactions moving to being text-based. However, brands must keep in mind that there will still be a place for voice, as an augmentation to discussions or for complex matters that can’t be handled through text, and customers should be given the choice of upgrading a support enquiry from text to voice.
Another example is that while WhatsApp might be the flavour today, that can also change in future and businesses should need to be able to accommodate these changing communications preferences. Ultimately at its core, good CX has to be customer-led and technology-agnostic.
Whether you require a basic solution or a full-function omnichannel operation, our highly experienced professional service team will help you evaluate the best fit for your needs and your digital journey. Contact us today.
By Clara Wicht, Senior Product and Marketing Manager at Telviva.