As technology continues to evolve, the science and analytics behind Customer Experience (CX) must race to keep pace. Alok Kulkarni, Co-Founder and CEO of Cyara (pictured above), explains the key customer experience challenges in 2017 and how organisations can tackle them.
As technology continues to evolve, the science and analytics behind CX must race to keep pace. New innovations are consistently entering the market, and the responsibility for CX and satisfaction is becoming more fragmented within organisations.
In the past, this responsibility sat under what was then termed a customer service manager. This person was usually someone with great telephone manner and the ability to inspire their team, train, and give feedback — easy.
These days, however, with numerous customer touch-points, including websites and mobile, tablets, old-fashioned landline, and email, the areas of responsibility within an organisation become blurred.
As a result, we see the involvement of teams across the business from Marketing, Customer Experience, Operations, Finance, IT and HR, just to name a few.
Key challenges for the new owners of the customer experience
The Global State of Customer Experience Report, which analysed the key trends and challenges for global leaders in the next 12-18 months and took into account survey results from 700 organisations across the world, highlighted the hurdles that come with building a customer-first culture.
It found marketers and business leaders will continue to struggle to create a customer-first culture, due to competing business priorities, lack of buy-in from cross-functional teams, and the difficulties of demonstrating ROI to continue CX investment.
With the variety of cross-corporate responsibilities in optimising the customer experience, it is imperative that all departments are in agreement when it comes to strategy. The best customer journeys share some key characteristics:
- Respect for the customer: The customer’s time is honoured. Transactions are completed in the minimum amount of time, service is immediate, and the customer does not need to “try again” or repeat information.
- Personalised experiences: When a customer interacts with an organisation or speaks to a representative, the organisation knows who the customer is, their history in dealing with the company, and their common transactions.
- Predicted desires: The system anticipates what a customer needs and offers service beyond the immediate demands, or in advance of a problem.
Problems arise when each department or vendor operates in isolation. Interoperability is essential, and with rapid advances in technology, each new tool and process must work seamlessly with existing systems across teams and vendors. Adding to that, businesses need to recognise the impact on budget and cost for continuous upgrades.
Tackling these hurdles head-on in the face of change in 2017
Cloud-based solutions are helping to make compatibility much easier, and are faster to implement, as they operate independently of underlying technology. This significantly reduces costs as less investment is required in backend systems, and the responsibility for the investment decision is taken out of the hands of one department or vendor.
A cohesive approach is also best achieved using a unified dashboard, which brings together information from various data sources, giving all parties a real-time view of the CX and analytics. This could involve integrating anything from your content management system (CMS) to your helpdesk support system.
In order to ensure the customer-first experience is being fulfilled, it is essential for companies and organisations to have a test monitoring system that simulates a large number of customer journeys. This provides a way to see and experience their systems in exactly the same way a customer would.
The outside-in approach truly reflects the CX, and allows businesses to more realistically walk a mile in their customers’ shoes to understand their needs and pain points.
When you stop to consider that Gartner research identified 89 per cent of companies believe they will be competing primarily on customer experience by 2017, it should be clear to business leaders that their CX strategy should no longer be the responsibility and priority of one particular person, but rather the entire C-suite and their respective teams.
For any customer-facing business, the customer experience strategy should be defined and approached in a consolidated manner.
Companies and vendors who develop a unified strategy and approach to dealing with CX that incorporates universally accessible analytics and dashboards to measure performance and ROI will ensure they stay ahead of their competitors in 2017 and beyond.