Despite the importance of a great customer journey and positive customer engagement, it’s not uncommon to find companies that continue to do a bare minimum for customers. Part of the problem is that companies are leery about spending money that doesn’t immediately lead to measureable return on investment (ROI). For managers and executives whose job it is to provide short-term cost savings – and whose bonuses and advancement may be tied to these short-term goals – it makes more money to cut out the “fat” and make a minimum effort.
But great customer engagement does lead to revenue gains in the long-term, as multiple studies have borne out. One of the most recent is a study by Microsoft (News - Alert) this year that revealed that 60 percent of customers across multiple groups say they have ceased doing business with organizations because of a single bad customer service experience. Bad customer service costs American companies billions each year. Earning customer loyalty means you have to “wow” customers every time they reach out…and even before they feel it necessary to reach out.
“This isn’t just about the importance of delivering good service, or even about gaining better insight into your customers’ needs and expectations,” wrote Aspect’s (News - Alert) Chris O’Brien in a recent blog post. “This is about bringing the customer experience out of the contact center silo and breaking down the walls between people, processes, systems and data sources. It’s about closing the loop on the customer journey.”
“Closing the loop” is a tall order today. Many companies have built their customer support processes channel by channel over time, so there exist multiple barriers between channels, between processes and between technology platforms. Building a holistic, omni-channel customer engagement infrastructure is going to take time and money: there’s no getting around that. The world is no longer a 9:00 to 5:00 to place, and waiting until Monday to contact a call center isn’t something customers are content with any longer. They want to pick the communications media or channel, they want to get the information or accomplish the task as quickly as possible (preferably on their own), and they expect results before they put their phone down.
“The traditional contact center is being pushed into obsolescence by consumer demand for a more modern approach, reemerging as the customer engagement center,” wrote O’Brien.
Self-service is an important element of a customer engagement program today, but it’s not the last decade’s self-service. It’s not a list of FAQs on a Web site, or a “press one” interactive voice response (IVR) system. It’s a social media presence, a mobile phone app, an automate “smart” chat bot that guides the customer to the next step and – if necessary – a live help presence stand stands watchful behind the process in case the customer reaches a roadblock. The most important thing, however, is that all these channels be properly integrated so there’s no loss of transaction information if the customer needs to traverse channels. It’s also about having room to grow, according to O’Brien.
The CEC provides a framework for supporting omni-channel communications, including the ability to easily adopt new channels as they become available or as your business requirements evolve,” she wrote.