Tuning In to Customer Experience Technology

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Customers share a great deal about themselves through their multichannel interactions. Between social media posts, recorded contact center exchanges, email, text, and other types of communications, customers reveal quite a bit about their needs, preferences, interests, and behaviors. However, companies can’t act on customer information without the tools needed to gather, distribute, and analyze this data.

Unfortunately, too many companies are saddled with a hodgepodge of legacy and standalone systems that have been cobbled together through years of mergers, acquisitions, and rogue technology deployments. Business leaders can’t gain a comprehensive, multi-dimensional view of their customers when information about customer accounts, channel behaviors, and transactions are siloed between different business units and organizational functions. In today’s economy, it’s imperative for companies to be agile and responsive to meet customer needs and preferences.

There are rich opportunities available for companies to leverage existing and emerging technologies in order to learn more about and to maximize relationships with customers. This includes the use of analytics to identify customer sentiment and behavioral trends. These types of insights can help marketers fine-tune marketing offers, drive higher conversion rates, and optimize their marketing spend.

Enterprises can also take advantage of intelligent automated IVR phone systems that draw upon information that’s known about a customer to tailor their service experience while meeting their needs more efficiently. Knowing which technologies to invest in requires business leaders to map their technology priorities against top business goals. Meanwhile, cloud computing platforms can help companies become more agile and responsive to customer needs through the ability to redirect resources and adjust to shifts in customer demand on the fly.

In this article, TeleTech’s Chief Operating Officer, Martin DeGhetto, answers a series of questions about the challenges, opportunities, and best practices for using technology to become a customer-centric organization.

What role does technology play in delivering exceptional customer experience?
Customers want to be served on their terms. They want their problems solved in a way that makes sense to them. And, it is not static. They want different kinds of problems solved in different ways. If it’s a complex issue, such as understanding the terms of a healthcare claim, they want to speak to a trained expert. If it is a simple task like confirmation on a hotel reservation, a text message fits the bill.

All of that customization requires a deep understanding of customer needs and behaviors, as well as the ability to respond to it across every channel. Companies need a seamless, integrated technology platform fed by robust analytics to enable that kind of responsive relationship with customers. When the technology is pieced together and the customer insight sits in disconnected silos, the customer experience is disjointed and frustrating.

Delivering an integrated customer experience that solves the customer’s problem also saves money for the brand. It costs a lot more to deliver a bad experience than a good one. Think about it—if the company can’t solve a customer’s problem the first time, customers will continue to call back until the problem is solved. Each interaction increases cost and decreases satisfaction.

What are the technological building blocks companies need to put in place to help drive customer centricity?
When customer experience technology works correctly, it’s like flipping on a light switch. There are tons of processes and systems that you activate when you turn on an electric light, but you never think about them. You just expect them to work. A well-architected customer experience technology system works the same way. There are several pieces to the puzzle. On the surface, there are the applications and platforms that enable interaction: a chat window, the IVR system, a web self-service tool, mobile application, etc. Companies need to understand how the technology is changing. For instance, IVRs today can be much more flexible than the old days of “phone tree jail.” Many IVR systems are smart, analytics-driven tools that can anticipate why a consumer is calling and route them accordingly.

Systems integration is the next key piece. In order to deliver a personalized, relevant interaction, all of the pieces need to knit together. Companies don’t grow in an orderly fashion. This creates disconnected systems and information silos that then translate into a disjointed and frustrating customer experience.

Finally, companies need to focus on the ongoing infrastructure. Many companies are looking at the benefits of moving their infrastructure from on-premise to the cloud. The cloud provides a path to upgrade legacy systems in a more affordable and scalable model.

In what ways do managed network services help companies get closer to the customer?
The cloud is creating new ways for brands to accelerate the deployment of customer-centric programs and affordably test new innovations. The cloud also enables companies to become more agile in responding to changing customer needs by allowing them to add or shift resources quickly as needed. In addition, the managed services provider has access to the newest tools and strategies to deliver on best practices that the brand might not be able to execute on their own. The benefit to the customer is better service and access to new ways of interacting as soon as they are available.

Analytics can be used to learn an incredible amount of things about customers by evaluating their multichannel interactions, sentiments, and behaviors. What are the top barriers companies face in acting on the full set of customer data that’s available to them? Data is the currency of growth today and many companies are struggling with how to harness the power of this asset. There are lots of reasons. In many cases, data sits in silos, making it difficult for various business units to gain a full picture of the nature of their relationship with each customer. Often times it’s hard to separate the noise from the nuggets of gold. Companies are collecting so much information that they are drowning in it. Instead of trying to make sense of all of it, companies should focus on understanding the key pieces of data that impact the business.

With so many powerful technologies to choose from, how should executives prioritize which ones to invest in?
Companies need to see technology as an enabler, not the strategy. They need to take a step back and really think about their overall business strategy – How will they grow? Which customers have the most potential? What do they need to do to increase their value? Then, they need to look across every channel and understand how technology is currently enabling the interactions and whether it is helping or hurting. Too often, companies spend money on things that customers don’t care about and not enough on the things that really matter to them. I really encourage leaders to implement Voice of Customer programs and use that insight to help drive next steps.