2020 has brought about many challenges for organisations unprepared for the rapid shift to digital cloud-based processes. As we discussed in our recent webinar on The New Normal, the organisations that were able to rapidly and smoothly shift to digital platforms for customer communications and business procedures were those who had already mastered the end-to-end customer experience (CX) and had already started the digitalisation process.
These organisations focused on building a reputation of reliability, consistency and functionality and mastered the art of end-to-end customer experience. By using cloud-based technology businesses found it was feasible to operate their workforce remotely, providing consistency of service. Expanding functionality to online services also made it possible for customers to make informed decisions via real-time interactions. At the same time, setting customer expectations for digital service deliverability and performance at a much higher level and other organisations needed to step up quickly or lose out.
What’s end-to-end experience?
End-to-end customer experience is the conscious development of positive interactions between a customer and a company. At each of the customer touchpoints, the experience of the customer is considered, to make the interactions more enjoyable and user friendly.
End-to-end experiences incorporate everything from systems that automatically fill in key details, intuitive interfaces, plain English content through to centralising customer service centres for streamlined assistance when it’s needed.
One key aspect of the end-to-end experience is the shift to customer communications management (CCM) software. These systems facilitate centralised customer communications that capture every interaction both inbound and outbound between the business and the end customer. This allows for more personalised and targeted communications, easier collection and reporting of customer requirements and also supports channel of choice, thereby improving the customer experience.
Build on existing systems or start afresh?
Many large organisations are already dealing with legacy systems that have been cobbled together over several years as new technology, products or customer needs arise. These systems create siloed service centres and a disconnected customer experience. If you’ve ever had to call an organisation in response to an email and been passed from customer service, to billing, to tech support and back just to get the answer to a simple question you’ll know how ineffective siloing of service departments and communications affects the customer experience.
If your organisation is bogged down with manual methods, fragmentation and messy customer interactions, it might be time to step back and look critically at what’s working and what’s not.
So, how do you create an end-to-end customer experience?
Firstly, as we suggested during the webinar, take a step back. If the pandemic has taught businesses anything, it’s that those with a clear vision and strategy are already a step ahead with creating meaningful business transformations. As the peak of the crisis eased, every savvy organisation took the opportunity to reflect on what it learnt about itself and its customer experiences. The current climate presents a unique chance to review, reset and then step up and create customer experiences that’ll help build sustainable businesses for the future.
What else can you do?
- Prepare early and know the organisational risks and opportunities
Events like pandemics, economic emergencies and climate related crises will continue to affect businesses of all sizes in the next few decades. Careful preparation and building the ability to jump on opportunities will help organisations be more resilient to these changes.
- Have a bold vision of what your customer experience looks like and how you’ll get there
Far too many projects have stalled before they’re realised because the drive to complete them has faltered. Successful end-to-end customer experiences requires each organisation to have a strong vision of its end goal in mind and to back this up with the resources and momentum to turn that into reality.
- Test, measure, reset and test again
Traditionally, customer communications usually played out with a ‘set and forget’ mentality that saw all customers receive batched, templated and fragmented communications. Measuring the success or failure of communications could take weeks, if not months, usually with manual data collection and analysis. Moving to CCM systems, with centralised communications and real-time engagement and data collection allows for greater testing and accurate feedback within seconds.
- Think outside the box on staffing
One of the advantages of centralising systems and involving cross sections of organisations is that it enables staff to shine in roles outside their usual scope of work. Bringing together teams from marketing, legal, accounts, customer service, IT and sales gives your project insights into the challenges and opportunities across the customer journey. Cross dimensional teams can also improve staff engagement, allowing employees a chance to shine outside their usual roles and build their skills in new areas.
- Think long-term, empowered teams
Meaningful change in customer experience won’t come out of a one-day strategy session. It requires a commitment to creating a dedicated team that have both the vision to make changes, the authority and resources to implement them and the sole purpose of building the best possible customer experience.
- Singular customer view and streamlined information
Responsive organisations are stepping up to meet customer expectations by moving to platforms and digital services that provide customers with real-time access through dedicated customer portals that centralise all the relevant information in one place.
What can go wrong (and how to fix it)
One of the challenges of moving to digitalisation of customer services can be keeping the interactions personalised. This can happen when organisations transfer from paper-based communications to digital without considering the ways customers interact. Engaging with customers and implementing good user experience principals is the best method to boost the customer experience.
Another common mistake is to simply add a CCM as an add-on to legacy systems. When you only change one part of the process without considering how it fits into the whole of the customer experience, it creates more siloes of information that disconnect customers and staff. Whilst implementing significant changes to the way information and communications are managed within an organisation is daunting, the benefits for staff and customers can be enormous. Taking the time to critically evaluate just how much time, effort and resources your legacy systems are costing you in productivity and the customer experience can make it an easy choice to transfer all your practises over to a new system at the same time.
One of the biggest customer experience failures is to not build testing, measures and goal posts into the process. While implementing an end-to-end communications platform allows key personnel to measure, adapt, test and respond in real time, it’s no longer enough to design, set up and implement a system without testing and measuring how it’s working. Once it becomes a part of business as usual you must always continue to evaluate to ensure your business processes remain relevant to customer expectations.
Creating a strategic pathway
Making the choice to revolutionise how you communicate with your customers by moving to a fully integrated cloud-based CCM platform can be daunting. That’s why partnering with an expert in creating fully integrated, end-to-end platforms, such as our virsaic™ CCM platform, will equip you to free up the flow of your communication and remove all roadblocks that stand in the way of digital transformation for your customer engagement strategy.