Posted by Subramanya C
In recent years, there’s been a shift in the way customers shop, highlighting an increased need to focus on unified customer engagement. Today, brands and customers are invariably using more than one channel when interacting with each other. A recent study surveying 7,000 consumers found that in the past 6 months, 67 percent of online shoppers made purchases that involved multiple channels. Consider this simple example as an everyday scenario:
Bill is considering buying a lawn mower. A colleague recommends Brand X. Bill immediately picks up his smartphone and starts researching lawn mowers from Brand X. Because Brand X’s website is not optimized for the mobile experience, he finds it difficult to see the photos and abandons his search for the moment. Once he’s back at his computer a couple of hours later, he continues his search for Brand X to get more information about the product his colleague recommended. Specifically, Bill wants to know what type of battery the lawn mower has. When he’s unable to find the answer to his question on the brand’s website FAQ section he gives up researching the recommendation and begins looking at a competing retailer’s site.
Today, prospective customers employ multiple channels before zeroing in on a purchase. Consequently, today’s brands have to be prepared and consistent across their service delivery channels.
If you’re looking to implement unified customer engagement, here are four must-haves:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Readiness: Your CRM application should be ready to support a complex strategy like omni-channel customer service. It has to have an open Application Processing Interface (API) that allows developers to build the CRM to link and share gathered data and provide for integration with all channels. This feature is crucial for a CRM to be ready to support omni-channel customer experience.
This readiness means that the CRM must be capable of studying and learning from your customer history and spotting and predicting patterns. Such an intelligent CRM can use this learning to help offer better, seamless customer experience by sharing and using this learning across all the channels in the omni-channel plan. The CRM should also be web-enabled and hosted on the cloud for better seamless integration, rather than being hosted on a server.
The CRM also has to be mobile app friendly. Why? In 2019 there will be 9.4 billion mobile subscriptions around the world, and 5.6 billion of them, or 60 percent, will be linked to a smartphone, according to new study by mobile network vendor Ericsson. The CRM must allow developers to integrate the apps for different operating systems (such as, Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows) for simulation, testing, and integrated CRM testing.
- Supporting Technology: Ensure you have the right computer systems with High Definition (HD) video, audio, and premium Internet bandwidth that can help your customer service agents support customers easily across channels. Along with all these front-end technology solutions, you also need to have powerful back-end technology infrastructure including Internet Protocol (IP).
Optimum quality, fast omni-channel customer support requires high capacity back-end technology that can enable the front-end technology to run efficiently.
- Robust, Integrated Knowledge Base: Preparing a strong and perceptive customer knowledge base is essential to a well-performing omni-channel customer support service. The knowledge base should be capable of addressing the information requests that come from different channels and furnish this information to customer service agents through the CRM.
The knowledge base should include information in different formats and lengths. For example, when answering a customer on Twitter, there is a character limit so the knowledge base needs to provide the agent with short, informative answers; if email is the platform, the knowledge base has to have descriptive answers.
- Synchronization and Personalization Capabilities: Link between devices is essential. Your CRM needs to be able to allow and support information exchange and learning to happen across devices. This can help each channel learn from the activities on other channels and understand customer interests and browsing history better to offer a more personalized customer experience. For example, if a customer has browsed books from a certain genre on your mobile app, this browsing and preferences history is shared by the app, through the CRM, with the company website. When the customer switches to the website from the app, the website can provide the best product recommendations based on the browsing history on the app.
It’s important to use the learning gained on every channel. This is possible with a web-enabled, open API CRM and knowledge base that shares data. If your service on the first few channels is lacking, you can use the learning that’s happened on these channels to improve on the next/ other channels.
Unified customer engagement comprises a complex system that involves near-constant learning from which companies that implement it need to evolve continuously to stay ahead of the game. BPM vendors can assist in launching and ensuring a successful omni-channel strategy. It’s a key focus of today’s optimized customer experience delivery.