May 23, 2018
collaboration, customer engagement, customer experience, Contact Center, analytics, digital marketing, artificial intelligence, CRM
When is the last time you had a spectacular customer engagement? How about one that involved digital channels, including webchat, screen sharing, or even video conferencing—or any combination of them in the same interaction?
We can readily recall incredibly bad customer service, but the rest is often “ho-hum,” meaning the company got the job done efficiently, but didn’t knock our socks off. We find ourselves thinking: “Why can’t that company get the basics right?” These continue to include routing customers to the right agents, seamless information transfer between channels, Natural Language Processing that actually works, and avoiding the use of bots (or even IVR) for functions that are too complex.
From business executives’ perspective, customer experience has become the cornerstone of their transformation strategies. Whether rated excellent or unacceptable, customer experience has a profound impact on revenue, costs, and competitive advantage. Via social media, customers wield power and influence by immediately broadcasting how a company treated them—good or bad.
So it’s no surprise that many companies in our research are focusing heavily on transforming how they engage with customers with the goal of increasing customer experience ratings. Chief Marketing Officers or Chief Customer Officers often lead these transformation initiatives, but the Chief Information Officer also should play an instrumental role. After all, the technology strategy is crucial to success.
Customer engagement transformations can rely upon numerous technologies. Among them are the following:
- Traditional contact center platforms (Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, Genesys)
- Next-Generation contact center services (Five 9, Nice InContact, standalone or via RingCentral partnership; Serenova, Sharpen, Talkdesk, ZenDesk)
- Collaboration (Avaya, Cisco, 8x8, Microsoft, Mitel, RingCentral)
- Digital marketing (HubSpot, Merketo, Pardot)
- CRM (Salesforce.com, Oracle, SAP)
- In-app contextual communications (Oracle, WebEngage, Relay Network)
Two technologies underscore all of these apps: Analytics and Artificial Intelligence.
I would argue the metrics provided by good analytics tools are the most important part of any customer engagement strategy. Then, of course, the right people in an organization must analyze and interpret that data to determine any adjustments they must make to improve success rates.
AI primarily provides ways to reduce costs and (hopefully) improve the customer experience by making intelligent decisions on how to best interact with the customer. AI is important to making customer engagement efficient—but it’s vital to use AI hand-in-hand with the analytics to prove whether it’s working as intended.
Regardless of which technologies an organization deploys to communicate with its customers, they must deploy them with an omnichannel approach. Otherwise, customer frustrations will become insurmountable—they’ll have more ways to communicate, none of which are integrated with one another.
The challenge, organizationally, is that customer engagement transformations don’t fit neatly in one person’s job description. The CMO must factor how the initiatives align with branding or even product marketing. The CCO must map out details of the customer journey, while identifying areas of problems and opportunities.
The CIO must know which technologies most effectively address everything the CMO and CCO want to accomplish. Unfortunately, many of these technologies are outside what have been traditional CIO areas of interest and responsibility. That includes some of the technologies previously cited, but also others, such as sentiment analysis tools, crowdsourcing, chatbots, marketing automation, self-service or advanced enterprise search. That must change, if the CIO organization is to remain relevant in customer engagement and be considered a trusted technology advisor among his or her peers.