Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

CRM Becoming Customer Experience Management in Omni-Channel Environment

October 05, 2015

In an effort to ensure they have a 360-degree view of their customers, many companies invested heavily in customer relationship management (CRM) a decade or more ago. The earliest implementations were premises-based, took a long time to implement and had poor usage. For many companies, it was an enormous investment that led to very little return. When Salesforce introduced its cloud-based CRM years ago, companies got their first taste of a hosted solution that could be used by anyone with a stake in the customer: the contact center, inbound and outbound sales, marketing and back-office functions without an enormous upfront investment and an 18- to 24-month installation schedule.

While most companies still use CRM, there is evidence that the technology needs to evolve. The days when marketing created a promotion, blasted it out and waited for the queries to roll in are long over, according to a recent article by Jason Lark writing for Digital Marketing Magazine.

“Marketing methodology is no longer a matter of organizing the rollout of outbound communications in accordance with a fixed promotional strategy. Consumer organizations have to respond promptly to customers wherever they are: whether they send an email, fire off a social post, write a text message – or call the front desk. Consequently, the lines between traditional marketing and customer care have been blurred: both are now about creating a cohesive, satisfying experience across all channels – and at all times.”

Enter the omni-channel customer experience. Customers expect to be able to initiate contact from anywhere, via any communications media, and receive the same consistent service (and the same accurate information) regardless of which channel they choose. In essence, customers may come at you from any direction, and handling these contacts in a siloed way will result in a disjointed, unsatisfying and even error-filled response. Even more important, companies wishing to present a truly excellent customer experience need to be proactive, and not just reactive, as in years past.

Image via Shutterstock

“The evolution to CXM [customer experience management] heavily emphasizes the need to proactively create a positive overall feeling about your brand – reactivity, while still important, isn’t going to encourage customer retention on its own,” wrote Lark. “The idea, essentially, is that responding to a customer’s needs is less effective than making them feel like you’ve already addressed them.”

Small neighborhood businesses may know their customers on a friendly basis and understand their needs. Larger companies will need robust technology and a good plan in order to mimic this “corner shop experience.” Fortunately, modern software makes it possible to scale this up and make all of your customers feel truly valued, according to Lark.

“By bringing together your disparate sources of data to form a single customer view (SCV), and investing in technologies that allow you to drive insight and automate targeted marketing messages, you can start talking to individuals based on their buying history and their behavior across all channels,” he wrote.

To anticipate customer needs and handle them in a proactive way, first you need to understand them. Without a good omni-channel customer engagement platform, it will be difficult to gain the holistic picture of each customer required for this approach. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle