Customer experience 2020: Mobile, voice, social and contextual
"Technology has flattened the competitive landscape. It has lowered the barrier for entry, allowing a new era of competition to change the market place."
Technology has flattened the competitive landscape. It has lowered the barrier for entry, allowing a new era of competition to change the market place. The increased competition has pushed most brands and businesses to reinvent themselves digitally to survive. The digital business revolution is driving significant enterprise investments for purposes of leveraging digital technologies (like mobility and IOT) to address new channels of customers and address market disruptions. The way businesses engage with customers and manage relationships has changed radically.
Today's customers are empowered through mobile and social technologies and are better informed than ever before. Customers are now in control of the relationships they have with their favorite brands. Businesses need to have the ability to satisfy the growing demand for orchestrated omni-channel customer engagement. While other tools on the market independently address silos of sales force automation, call centers, email campaigns, web widgets, analytics from social listening, loyalty programs, what businesses need is a comprehensive approach. Such an approach needs to be based on unified view of customers and products, enabling brands to engage with customers consistently across all touch points.
Customers are in control of their journey and it doesn't happen in a linear fashion rather it is dynamic and it happens at the convenience of the customers. This is why businesses need to have an adaptive customer engagement platform that provides a unified view of the customer. To successfully engage with today's customers, businesses need more than just the view of a customer's past interaction information because customers will demand more in context to customer experience from businesses everyday and it will not stop. Ever evolving consumer technologies are enabling customers to do things faster than businesses can react to them. The focus is shifting more towards consistency and multi-channel integration to device independent interactions. As per Gartner's 2015 Customer 360 Preconference survey, major focus of the businesses will be to increase customer satisfaction and improve customer experience.
To achieve the above objectives, businesses need to focus on the following three aspects:
1. Incorporating Mobile & Voice 2. Leveraging Social 3. Creating Context
1. Incorporating Mobile & Voice:
When does mobility impact customer engagement process? The answer is - all the time. The customers are with their devices / smartphones all the time, at home, in office, business meeting, sports, workouts, shopping, driving, in between sales calls, travelling, etc. and with multiple devices. As per recent Gartner, by 2020 40% of sales organizations will rely primarily on mobile digital technology for their sales force automation initiatives. Before we discuss this insight, let us understand the current challenges faced by businesses while integrating mobile into their customer experience initiatives:
Apps get old fast: Most mobile apps are abandoned, forgotten or deleted which makes supporting them a challenge.
Too many options to choose from: There is a wide rang of possible mobile customer support capabilities that require careful observation of customer behaviors to improve them even incrementally.
Give Mobile a voice: Voice driven apps will be increasingly used by customers and employees over the next five years.
Be social: Social Apps will gain more momentum as customers (digital natives) and new, younger employees who by nature are more socially collaborative continue to drive the business and enter the workforce.
Is it right for my industry or process: Industry specific and process specific considerations impact customer service usefulness on mobile devices.
While moving forward to 2020, businesses need to focus on the following:
4. Experiment with innovative mobile digital technologies with small groups as many of them (technologies) are still unproven or untested
5. Incorporate voice-driven apps where as possible to improve the interactions
6. Minutely observe the daily lives of customers and employees from dawn to dusk to determine which mobile technologies will have the greatest impact
It will be beneficial to observe customers directly to see what the most popular mobile functions are at present but push the envelope with innovative additions. Every new initiative takes time to mature hence businesses need to commit a period for mobile support maturity model planning, as key technologies and consumer behavior may dictate shifts in prioritization. Another requirement is to employ a range of analytics techniques and applications to monitor the success of the customer experience functionality on the mobile device, as businesses need cases on advanced analytics.
2. Leveraging Social:
In my interactions with couple of organizations in western and southern part of India, I realized businesses are confused or mislead on the social media integration with their customer experience initiatives. Let us understand the warning signals. During my discussions, some of the marketing managers revealed that social media strategy doesn't account for responding to the posts related to the brand. Some business owners mentioned social media as something the marketing team handles. Many organizations are still struggling to show ROI on social for CRM and many times because they have yet to define a strong use case. Mature organizations like Mahindra & Mahindra and other Indian and multinational MNCs are recognizing that social media far more than just marketing promotions and can be a source of knowledge throughout the organization. An effective, holistic, global social strategy supporting CRM is still elusive to the majority of these organizations. (Not to mention the recent British Airways case of Sachin Tendulkar).
As per Gartner, by 2016 B2B enterprises will account for 40% of spending on social software and business services. And by 2018, 75% of social-only customer service agents will be blended into the customer service agent pool. To make social media as the game changer in their customer experience initiative, businesses need to focus on:
Provide support to the business lines when and where response is necessary based upon social business goals, encouraging business leaders to identify operational and customer experience repercussions of deciding to or not to respond.
At regular intervals meeting with social leads in customer service, digital commerce, marketing and sales to reconcile unique and repetitive business objectives and the people, process and technologies that support them. And identifying gaps with use of social datasets that could be optimized if social strategy was coordinated at an enterprise level.
Assessing the current level of CRM capabilities for including social activity and information into primary customer records against desired state; while investigating ways to link the loyalty program to social profiles such as offering points for activity or sign up or rewarding advocates for their endorsements.
While getting ready for the next level of customer experience, businesses need to determine for investing in social and align stated use cases with CRM business goals. The sooner organizations can tie social engagement legacy records, the faster they can realize if they are achieving their ROI.
3. Creating Contextual Experience:
Customers' now-a-days want personalized customer experience, which can make them convinced as personalized. Social and mobile are two mediums that are further strengthening this sentiment among customers. The Indian ecommerce industry is continuously experimenting and innovating new means to provide a personalized experience every time their customers visiting for a transaction; the recent example of Amazon India and Flipkart are two classic examples. Personalization makes the experience contextual for the customers. Businesses need to deliver context at every stage of interaction.
While plugging in context into the customer experience, businesses need to provide a unified customer experience, customer service agents, marketers, digital professionals and sales force must have a 360-degree view of the customer with whom they are interacting. Managing multiple sources of customer data, businesses need to have two separate applications for CRM and social for CRM and many more with emerging trends and preferences, leaving them with different sets of customer records.
Many of them while aiming for systemic reconciliation need to consider investing in a master data management (MDM) application or extending their existing MDM program to meet customer data needs as a solution to their customer records reconciliation problems. MDM processes recognize that unique attributes of the social data, including allowing for frequent updates and allowing end users to control which attributes are updated by the social data. In the coming time we will see context architectural models, context brokers and the emergence of standards around the handling and management of contextual attributes.
And as per Gartner by 2020, IoT will deliver new sensors and devices that will increase the number of contextual attributes by orders of magnitude. Context will turn into a big data problem, which will put organizations on the road to digital contextualization of the customer experience.
Aroon Kumar is Director - Marketing with mGage India. Twitter: @aroonin