This article first appeared in the Autumn 2016 issue of The Record.
How have customer expectations changed?
Although some people still prefer traditional physical channels and face-to-face interactions, customers in all age groups expect to be able to access services, buy products, check their bank balance and much more via mobile and online apps on their smartphones. Customers get frustrated if online and mobile services aren’t quick and easy to use, while recent Ovum research shows that they usually want to speak directly to a person if they have a complex query. Consequently, organisations must enable people to seamlessly switch between whichever channels are most convenient at the time.
What are the challenges of providing this seamless customer experience?
Most commercial organisations still have product-centric business models and recent Ovum research found that senior executives tend to devolve responsibility for customer experience to a single customer services department. This, combined with the fact that most customer data is held in siloed systems, means that organisations find it hard to understand what customers expect.
What best practices will help enterprises meet customer needs?
To provide a seamless and personalised omni-channel customer experience, companies must take a holistic overview that enables them to coordinate best practices across all front- and back-office departments. Data analytics tools can help organisations to analyse customer data to gain deeper insights into the factors driving their customers’ spending behaviour, brand and interaction preferences. They can then design the customer experience around this information.
What technologies are playing a key role in driving new customer experiences?
Predictive analytics, machine learning and dynamic content management enable companies to use historical data to predict what information is most relevant to consumers so they can personalise their online experience. The same technologies provide agents in the contact centre or in the field with immediate access to the right information at the right time. Meanwhile, internet of things sensors can be used to detect product defects or service quality issues so companies can proactively resolve them before customers notice anything is wrong.
How will the customer experience evolve in future?
Customer expectations will continue to rise and technologies that would be considered unusual today will soon become the norm. For example, robots will automate monotonous administration processes, such as data gathering. This will free up employees so they can prioritise serving customers. Some companies have already proposed using drones to enable same-day deliveries. We can expect to see organisations delivering a significantly more seamless and personalised customer experience across multiple channels over the next three years.
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