This article first appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of OnWindows magazine.
Customers are no longer communicating with businesses when and where businesses plan them to. We are living in a 24/7 world, and customers want to be served anytime, anywhere and in any medium that they choose. Often these touchpoints operate in silos, with different technologies supporting on-line and off-line channels. Investments have been made by some of the large contact centres in quite sophisticated tools to manage and monitor communications, but not all customer interactions happen at the contact centre. Democratising these technologies to help improve and optimise all customer interactions can have major benefits and deliver on some of the broader customer experience promises.
Consistency helps to build trust. Having a holistic view of customer interactions and the ability to see which interactions are having a positive and negative impact on the customer experience is critical to driving down poor interactions.
Advances in technology have opened up a lot of new opportunities within the customer analytics space. With increased availability of technologies using mobile first, cloud first delivery models, there is greater flexibility and simplicity, with reduced deployment time. Advanced functionality available from Hyper Cloud providers such as Microsoft – which has launched Cortana Analytics within the Azure platform – help to bring advanced capabilities in speech to text, machine learning, data analytics and data visualisation to a much broader audience. Designing applications that are able to leverage these technologies in a very user friendly fashion take advanced technologies out of the domain of the traditional contact centre and put them into the hands
While knowing the difference between good and bad communications and the impact on customer experience is interesting, it is the intelligent action that actually makes an impact on business. For example, with machine learning and predictive analytics, we are able to begin to see what actions are most likely to have the greatest possible impact. Routing communications to different people, adding automated services or implementing a training programme may all bring improvements. However, knowing what the possible impact of each is likely to be enables you to choose the best action. Algorithms can be used to automate some of these improvements on the fly to optimise the experience.
If you know when a customer has a higher propensity to buy from either experience score, mood or position in the buying cycle then you can upsell and cross sell more effectively.
Using communications to improve the customer experience can appear idealistic and seem difficult to quantify in terms of the financial benefits, but there is plenty of research to back up the financial gains attainable through these improvements.
Often these will focus on customer retention rates and customer advocacy, both of which take time to build and reap the benefits from, but there are also more immediate benefits. Knowing more about the customer in terms of their feelings towards your company can enable better matching of sales opportunities versus the likelihood of the customer being receptive to the offer. Whilst this can sound very business-to-consumer focused, it is also very effective in a business-to-business environment where improved communications often leads to greater trust and likelihood to purchase additional products and services.
Steve Haworth is CEO of TeleWare Group, based in the UK
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