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By Andrei Petrik.

As the CEO of an SME business, 2020 wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. The pandemic left us feeling like we’d had the light switched off and were spun around until we were dizzy. It wasn’t easy, but it looks like we survived. We weren’t the only ones, and most of our peers obviously felt the same trauma.

As a B2B business, everybody found themselves in the same boat rocking back and forth. This meant that the way we communicated with, sold to, and dealt with our customers changed. The year 2020 was one that changed B2B business forever. It required the adoption of new approaches and techniques to get by.

I want to share the same customer experience approaches and techniques that I’ll be taking into 2021 with my community.

The success of customers came first

In 2020, it became clear that customer retention had to take priority over customer acquisition. We realized that businesses would minimize their costs, meaning they might want to stop using our software.

There’s no point in acquiring new customers slower than you’re losing them, so we consolidated and leveled up our Customer Success (CS) program and relied on that as we plunged into the unknown.

It’s a strategy that involves being proactive to customer problems, instead of reactive. It’s all about getting to know your customers and their product so profoundly, that you can reliably give them the very best of your product for their exact niche and need.

I could go on about CS strategies until the cows come home. But in the interest of your interest, I’ll break it down into some smaller points.

1. Onboard and activate customers on an individual basis

Before any one-to-one conversation with a new customer, our CS Team does their research. They find out which industry the customer is in, which problems our product should solve, and which processes and workflows they employ that our product can fit in.

With this information, they can have an educated first meeting, skip the unnecessary questions, and get into the meat of what our product can do for them. 

2. A perpetual education and re-education of customers

CS revolves around shared education. After educating yourself, educate your customers… and never stop. Apart from the newsletter and in-product notifications alongside significant updates and releases, we run live webinars, walk through the features we have added or improved during the assessment calls.

Furthermore, we continuously produce educational and pre-boarding content on our blog such as guides, ebooks, cheat sheets, and checklists.

3. Stay in touch

We’re proactive. We don’t wait for a customer to contact us with a problem, we set regularly scheduled calls to check in on them and their experience of our product. We’re always adding features and tweaking our system. If that’s relevant to a specific customer, we always let them know so they can get the most out of it.

Above all, a successful CS strategy requires complete internal cooperation of the business that is practicing it. It needs sales and marketing singing off the same hymn sheet, using the same data, and putting out the same message. We do not doubt that our Customer Success strategy was one of the main reasons we survived this year.

Personalization needed to go further

Let’s bust the myth that calling somebody by their name in the subject line increases their engagement with an email.

It might be valid to some extent, but in 2020 literally every brand that you could name is doing it. It’s no longer impressive. If anything, it’s the bare minimum. In 2021, we need to go further in our personalization efforts. This all starts with immediate lead enrichment upon a user’s registration with a brand.

Personalisation is easy. Put some effort into it.

In my opinion, the definition of personalization got lost when Mail Merge was invented. In business, personalization should mean giving your brand a personality; humanizing it.

It means implementing a conversational customer experience and aggregating all communication channels so a customer feels a seamless, personalized brand experience, with no disconnect between the different arms of it. As the pandemic adds to even more uncertainty about buying power of leads, this only becomes more important.

1. Conversational Customer Experience (CCE)

A brand providing CCE is one that provides continuous support and guidance and support for customers on an individual basis. It opens up a two-way channel of communication between a brand and a customer, ensuring a smoother path to customer success.

We provide timely, relevant, and helpful information on request, and our relationships with our customers consolidate and grow.

2. Omni-channel, personalized communication

We try to meet our customers where they are, and I appreciate that this sounds somewhat vague at first. Simply put, our different buyers have different preferences.

This means we can’t expect the same approach to work for everybody. Ideally, we should be able to provide different, preferred channels without losing any information; a seamless buying experience. In 2021, we plan to experiment with even more promotional, distribution, and purchase channels.

Continuity is the cornerstone of customer relationships, and our end goal should always be for a customer to become a brand advocate.

We all needed each other

One of our biggest successes of 2020 was our user community, which was set up as a direct response to the coronavirus pandemic. It was initially set up as a simple Facebook page, titled ‘Crisis-Proof Community’, but the success of it meant we coded a section into our product as a new home. Eventually, it just became a general user community, rather than being focussed on pandemic response.

 

Our community empowered us in so many different ways, giving us benefits that we never planned for.

It lifted the weight off our Customer Success Team’s shoulders, simply because they had to deal with fewer queries and calls for the more simple, more common questions they receive.

  • It gave us more visibility on Facebook because we would pop up on the timeline of our users’ friends. Now the Facebook group redirects users to the native group.
  • We found a new source of product development leads, meaning we could hone our SaaS product. We could gauge how much a particular feature was wanted simply by the number of people who engage with the request for it.
  • It added more personality to our brand because we could reply from our individual Facebook accounts on different user posts. It gave us another, specific channel upon which to share content.

The pandemic drove both brands and consumers into deeper relationships with technology. We’ve been able to take advantage of that by bringing our whole customer base; people who share the same values, interests, and challenges together under one URL.

A little bit of humanity goes a long way

The last point I’ll make is a little bit more common sense. Above everything else in 2020, we understood just how nice it is to be nice. Our users, the exact ones that gave me this platform to share my advice, needed us.

They required us to show compassion and empathy to their situation because not everybody was able to weather the storm to the same end. A chatbot is suitable for solving minor problems, directing a customer to the right department… but it’s no shoulder to cry on.

Now, it’s more important than ever to close feedback loops promptly and satisfactorily to our customers. In 2020, our customers needed us more than ever, they needed our product — not only to drive them to success, but to help them keep their heads above water.

Regardless of whether we were able to implement a request or not, we listened and considered each individual one. If the request was related to their subscription payment, we’d trust our front-line employees to offer the correct discount, payment holiday, or additional service.

In return, we were able to ask our customers for something in return.

  • A review on dedicated platforms like G2 or Capterra.
  • A recommendation for our product to partners and friends.
  • To host a partner webinar if you have an audience overlap.
  • A success story to share on our social media or a blog.

Going forward in 2021, we will continue to be flexible for our customers in the hope that our customers can be flexible for us. A business can get bogged down in bad times at any time, not just during the pandemic. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the suit-and-tie of it all; to lose faces behind company logos.

Overall, we’re grateful that we were fortunate as a SaaS business. We’re blessed to be online, with the coronavirus’s impact kept to a minimum. We’re blessed to have been able to learn from it, rather than to be beaten by it. I’m blessed to be able to share the lessons I’ve learned from this year with my fellow business community. After all, as I said in the article… we need each other.

I hereby proclaim 2021 to be normal.

By Andrei Petrik

CEO & Co-Founder, NetHunt CRMAndrei is a customer relations expert with vast knowledge about business processes. When he’s not churning out code, he’s out on the water catching some fish!

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Sourced from TNW

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Cleanup in aisle five! Has there ever been a more disruptive time in retail? To get a better handle on what businesses should be doing to fix this messy situation, The Drum called up long-admired retail trends spotter and PSFK founder Piers Fawkes. Here are the three top actions he recommends:

1. Own the experience. Customers are anxious to return to their everyday retail and lifestyle routines, but stores and physical marketplaces are having difficulty offering any creature comforts as they reopen with limited services. Consumers are looking for brands to step in and streamline the purchase path or even reduce the frustrations of today’s in-store visits ‑ all to make the total shopping experience feel just a little bit more manageable. At Best Buy for example, after scheduling an in-store appointment, customers preparing for a visit receive a call from a store employee ahead of their visit to review store procedures and offer more information about their shopping purpose.

2. Reenergize the relationship. Regular store visits were an anchor for customer/brand relationships. As customers are forced to spend more time on apps, websites, and digital spaces, use this moment to re-establish and reenergize relationships with shoppers by focusing social engagements around community building and amplifying the voices of your most loyal customers. For example, Vans has done wonderful job celebrating, supporting and promoting the subculture of LBGTQ+ skaters called The Skate Witches with a series of online photo, video, and writing workshops. Vans have found the right way to say welcome to this culture in a way that is authentic.

3. Redesign the infrastructure. The retail industry as a whole is realizing a new level of nimbleness and flexibility necessary to survive constant consumer trends, marketplace evolutions, and global economic shifts. In doing so, retailers and brands are learning to navigate and thrive in environments that are less certain and consistent. Part of this evolution involves brands allowing customers to shape your brand’s long-term operational strategy and product direction. Enact this change by inviting customers into the design process, while reconfiguring retail infrastructure to respond to their real-time trends and behaviors. For example. makeup and skincare company Arfa promises 5% of its profit to the customers who participate in creating, testing, and marketing the products.

Piers Fawkes is founder of PSFK. Fawkes has inspiring leading brands, retailers and their partners on trends and innovation since 2004.

Feature Image Credit: PSFK founder Fawkes. / Randee St. Nicholas

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Sourced from The Drum

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What do design thinking, user experience, customer experience and employee experience have in common? They are all focused on empathy, learning how a person’s experience with a business, product, service or employer can be improved.

Empathy is used in design thinking, UX, CX and EX to provide a better journey — that is, to improve and personalize the touch points that a person has with a business, product, service or employee. Empathy can be a potent tool in the business toolbox, and can enhance products, services and businesses.

2019 report from BusinessSolver showed that 82% of employees would consider quitting their job for a more empathetic employer. More than three-quarters (78%) also said they would be willing to work longer hours for a more empathetic organization. In a report from Ipsos on behalf of PepsiCo Beverages North America, results showed that nine out of 10 consumers in the United States feel it is critical that brands show empathy and take measurable action if they want continued loyalty and support. Clearly, empathy is a core business value in 2020 and should be part of the corporate social responsibilities of socially responsible — and successful — businesses.

Defining Design Thinking, UX, CX and EX

Design thinking is about understanding the needs, emotions, motivations and drivers of behaviors of customers and employees. Since design thinking is about empathy for another person’s experience, it’s applicable for both employee experience and customer experience strategies, as well as user experience programs.

According to Brian Spain, consultant for InTouch Solutions, design thinking is a way to introduce people to “thinking, concepts, or products and services through a lens that respects the perspective of the audience and works to incorporate audience feedback.” Spain starts by “gathering facts and observations and looking at a problem, or opportunity from a contextual perspective, before drilling down into details.” He then begins the process of “interviewing your audience (individuals, or small groups) to clarify assumptions and present them with very rough conceptual approaches, offerings or ways you would interact with them in order to gain their feedback in a back-and-forth way.” At that point, Spain said it’s time to refine “concepts or proposed interactions before more time is spent developing a complete finished product, service or experience.” Design thinking is an iterative process that never really ends as it leads to further refinements, adjustments and changes as additional feedback is gathered and analyzed.

User experience (UX) design is the process in which a product or service comes together — everything from acquiring and integrating the product or service, including branding, the design itself, usability and functionality. It revolves around the experience of the end user, what their expectations are, how they will use the product or service, how it feels to them when they actually get their hands on the product or service — every aspect of their journey.

Husam Machlovi, CEO of With Pulp, a user experience design and development studio, said UX design is “an ongoing process that aims at making better solutions for people. It starts with good listening skills.” The user’s journey is the key to the design process and “it’s important to understand what the stakeholder is trying to get done, what their frustrations are with the current method of doing things and what’s working well. This is the case for any stakeholder, whether it’s an employee, customer or user.” As with design thinking, the process never ends because it can always be improved. “Once a solution is shared with stakeholders, design managers should observe and go through the listening process again,” Machlovi said. “And then form a new hypothesis. And so on and so forth.”

Customer experience (CX) is the king of the buzzwords right now because we live in a customer-centric world. CX starts when a prospective customer realizes they have a need that must be filled, continues through the period where they are searching for a solution, on through the decision to use a specific business, the purchasing process and on to the phase after which they have purchased and used the product, service or solution. They will either end their journey or hopefully continuing being a loyal customer. CX strategies may include the use of a customer data platform (CDP), a voice of the customer (VoC) campaign, as well as the use of extraneous data from email, reviews, feedback and word of mouth.

Alyssa Jarrett, director of brand and content marketing at Iterable, said her company learned that “we must strive to learn what our customers want from us — what can we provide them that they cannot get on their own at this very moment? Asking this question helps better empathize with your customers’ experiences and distill the message that serves them best.”

Jarrett said it’s important to let customers know that the business understands and aligns with their values. “Each of our customers is set upon their own unique journey,” she said. “It’s the marketer’s role to support them from touchpoint to touchpoint — as if we’re doing it together. This comes from communicating in supportive ways that demonstrate ‘we get it.’” She points to Penzey’s Spices as an example. The company infuses marketing messages with viewpoints on social and political issues, calling out political leaders or inviting customers to buy and donate spice kits to those in need.

Employee experience (EX) is the journey employees undertake during their time with a business. It begins with the pre-screening process then the hiring and onboarding process, continues through training, the daily experience at work, on through promotions, and on to their last days with the business. Happy employees equate to happy customers so businesses that focus on EX tend to do better with CX as well. Employee feedback is crucial as are voice of the employee (VoE) campaigns, both of which provide insights to improve the employee journey.

Coonoor Behal, design thinking expert, founder and CEO of Mindhatch, said businesses should think of their employees as they do their clients. “There’s always a kind of primary and secondary customer,” she said. “You have to serve your primary customer, like the people buying your service. You also need to design for your secondary customer, which is your employees.” Much like design thinking, EX is about learning to empathize with the drivers of the behaviors, needs and emotions of employees. Behal suggested companies “take a human-centered approach to actually understanding your employees and their needs and their wants and their challenges.”

How Does Empathy Differ From Sympathy?

Empathy involves seeing another person’s situation from that person’s perspective and sharing that person’s emotions and distress. This involves, literally imagining oneself as that person in the exact situation the person is currently going through. From a business perspective, being able to feel empathy for your customers and employees provides leaders with actionable insights that enhance products, services or solutions as well as the lives of customers and employees.

Sympathy, on the other hand, is used to convey compassion, pity, concern, care, commiseration or feelings of sorrow for someone experiencing something bad. In other words, while you might feel bad for the person, you don’t know what it is like to be in their shoes.

Saleema Vellani, innovation strategist for World Bank Group and adjunct professor of design thinking at Johns Hopkins University, said not understanding the difference between sympathy and empathy can cause serious problems for CX and EX teams. “Sometimes when we’re trying to practice empathy, we’re actually mistakenly practicing sympathy,” she said. “And even though these words have different meanings, a lot of teams are actually incorrectly using sympathy and empathy.” Teams often make the mistake of thinking they are synonymous and “that confusion actually leads to a huge gap in addressing real human needs.”

With design thinking, UX, CX and EX, it is not enough to have sympathy. To be able to improve the customer and employee journey, a leader must be able to put themselves in the mind of each person, whether they are a customer, end-user or employee. For example, they must be able to imagine how it feels for a new employee to start a job but not be able to fulfill their new tasks because of a week-long delay between when HR hired them and IT set them up with access to the required software or tools. Or a customer who has filled out a form on a business website and completed the credit card information, only to be directed back to the shopping cart because one of the items in their cart was out of stock and they have to re-enter their information all over again.

These are the types of intersection points or pain points in the employee and customer journey that require empathy. Each time a leader can place themselves in the shoes of a customer, user or employee, especially during one of the pain points in the journey, they can take action to improve that journey.

Vellani teaches her clients that design thinking is about increasing the connection between leaders and the people they serve through connection. The goal “is to move to compassion. So empathy is a step up from sympathy. You’re just stating, ‘hey, I feel for you’ or ‘I hear you’, which is a step up from pity, which is like, ‘I’m sorry for you.’ Sympathy is more like ‘I feel for you.’ You’re acknowledging the suffering of others, but you’re not actually trying to feel what the other person is feeling. Empathy is more like ‘I feel with you.'”

“More than anything, it’s about relationships and being able to develop authentic human connections between our business and our customers in our community,” she said.

Vellani said design thinking can’t happen without empathy and that empathy begins with self-awareness. “This is where design thinking and innovation can be very much about output and empathy is part of the process. It’s somewhere between input and output because you’re trying to understand your user and you’re trying to know your audience. But it’s not just about trying to understand your audience — it really starts with knowing who you are … it’s about developing the capacity to have empathy.”

Empathy Mapping for Better Understanding

The definition of an empathy map, as defined by the Nielsen Norman Group, a UX research group, is “a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user.”

“Understanding people and their motivations is key to any customer experience,” said Adeline Heymann, associate VP of loyalty experience strategy at Kobie. “You need to uncover motivations and unmet needs to inform a human-centered design that grows loyalty. Empathy mapping is a key design thinking tool to that end, allowing you to visualize and understand the end-user. It can be foundational to leveraging UX, CX and EX to better serve your customers.”

To create a better journey for users, customers and employees, it is vital to empathize with them through each touchpoint. Heymann said “UX, CX and EX all aim to create frictionless, integrated journeys for the end-user which will ultimately build loyalty over time. They’re all based on holistic interactions and experiences with not only the company or product but also external forces like people and environment, which is particularly important as the goal is to determine which parts of the experience you can optimize to drive loyalty.”

The empathy map is broken down into four areas which are largely based on the two types of empathy — cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. Cognitive empathy is derived from acknowledging that a person is acting or feeling the way they do for reasons that are logical to them, while emotional empathy is more about feeling what a person feels for the reasons they feel that way. The four areas covered by an empathy map are:

  • What a user says.
  • What a user thinks.
  • What a user does.
  • What a user feels.

What a user says is collected from user feedback, sales calls, interviews and usability studies. It might go something like this: “I continue to use Amazon.com because they always direct me quickly to the product I am looking for.”

What a user thinks requires empathy with the user, customer or employee and seeks to determine what a person may be thinking when they encounter a problem, stumbling block or bottleneck. It would look something like this: “I have tried to add this item to my shopping cart three times but it is not appearing there when I check. Am I missing something?”

What a user does is easier to figure out because data that is collected during their experience shows what they have done. It might be something like this: “searches multiple times while trying to find a specific product” or “adds several items to the shopping cart, then abandons the cart before checking out.”

What a user feels is more of an emotional breakdown of their experience and also requires empathy and imagination. It may go something like this: “irritated: could not find what they were looking for” or “satisfied: they were directed immediately to the category of products they were looking for.”

An empathy map cannot be created without first knowing what the user, customer, or employee feels strongly about and identifying the user, customer or employee touchpoints or pain points. But once created, it can be a valuable tool to understanding the needs, requirements and areas that can be improved in the user, customer or employee journey.

Related Article: Use Design Thinking to Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

Knowing the Customer as a Person

Bernard May, CEO of National Positions, an internet marketing firm, said “empathy really comes down to doing the right thing for everyone involved — our customers, prospects, and our team. It is the difference between ‘what works’ and ‘what matters.’ There may be a million ways to create something that ‘works,’ but it takes far more diligence and perspective to develop and implement something that truly ‘matters’ when it comes to the brand experience.”

There is a natural order among the practices, May said, and “when it comes to the relationship between CX, EX and UX, the overall experience comes from the order in which they are considered and implemented.”

Part of the EX is going to stem from the CX — one is going to contribute to the other. May said to begin with the experience a business wants the customer to have.

“If this is e-commerce, you may want a streamlined experience so customers can easily find and purchase your product. For SaaS brands, you may want customers to realize the value your service offers, so your solution can be implemented in record time,” May said.

The experience you want customers to have is going to fuel the user experience you create within your processes. From there, turn to the employee experience. “Employees want to feel connected and invested in your brand message, offering, goals, and overall values, which need to be considered in the content you create — to breathe life into your user experience,” May said.

By creating a positive experience for users and customers, employees will have a hands-down more positive experience themselves. “Your employees are going to feel the effect of the user experience you create, positive or negative,” he said. “So even the longevity and sustainability of your employees are going to be a factor when building and improving the customer and user experience. They are interconnected, but at the end of the day, the CX (strategy) needs to come first so that everything else can be built to support and bring this experience to fruition.”

The bottom line is learning how people feel about the products they use, the experiences they have with a business, and the experiences they have as employees allows leaders to gain actionable insights to improve the journeys of the human beings that interact with their businesses. Empathy can improve customer and employee loyalty, create a greater level of personal satisfaction and contribute positively to ROI.

“Business has always been and will always be based on relationships between humans,” Vellani said. “And no matter how advanced we get with technology, skills like empathy are only going to increase in value.”

Feature Image Credit: DENYS NEVOZHAI ON UNSPLASH.

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Sourced from CMS WiRE

By Cath Everett

Advanced customer experience software can help companies weather the current Covid-19 storm, as well as build resilience. Marks & Spencer is one firm exploring the technology.

The rapid spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and the resultant global economic downturn as countries put their citizens in lockdown means that both individual organisations and entire industries worldwide are having to rethink how they operate.

But rather than simply abandon the customer experience (CX) management activities and competencies they have been building steadily over the past few years, Bruce Temkin, experience management (XM) guru and head of the Qualtrics XM Institute, recommends they focus on “adjusting and reprioritising their efforts to align with the organisation’s changing needs”.

He believes XM professionals have an important role to play in assisting their companies to weather the current storm by helping them to understand how customers and staff are feeling and then using such insights to adapt their activities quickly.

“In these times of rapid change, the last thing you want to do is to lose a connection with your customers,” Temkin says. “You need to be listening and responding even more than you have in the past.”

While there are various ways of doing so, which include gathering input from employees and undertaking pulse surveys among the client base, asking for feedback needs to be undertaken with care, otherwise organisations risk appearing “self-absorbed” rather than supportive of customer needs, warns Temkin.

Moreover, it is important to bear in mind that the “ideal pace of feedback” should be defined by a company’s “capacity to act on what it finds”. This is because the ultimate goal is to “drive actionable insights” across the business, with the aim of enabling it to adapt appropriately on an enterprise-wide basis rather than simply in pockets.

“CX is about changing the entire organisation to become more focused and responsive to the needs of the customer,” Temkin says. “But it’s not good enough to just learn what customers are thinking and feeling – you have to get actionable insights into the hands of the people who have been empowered to do something with them, such as customer support or product design, and in a form that’s useful to them.”

CX maturity is at base camp

Unsurprisingly then, given the extent and depth of the organisational transformation required to adopt this kind of approach, Temkin rates the “CX movement” as currently being at “base camp” in terms of maturity – a finding that would appear to be backed up by technology services company NTT’s latest Global customer experience benchmarking report.

This study indicates that, according to most of the organisations questioned (57.8%), their CX strategy is still in development, with a further 13.8% acknowledging it is only at the planning stage and has yet to be defined. A mere 7.6% said they would describe their CX strategy as being optimised, while only 12.1% believe their customer base would give them a positive Net Promoter score.

This is despite the fact that 81.6% were convinced CX offered the business a competitive edge, with 58% considering the approach to be a primary differentiator – although only 14.4% stated that CX formed a crucial part of their overall organisational strategy today.

According to Rob Allman, NTT’s senior vice-president of customer experience, there are three key reasons that companies are failing to optimise their CX strategy effectively. These consist of “lack of leadership, a lack of inter-departmental cooperation, and a lack of empowered capability in implementing well-designed, intelligent processes and outcome-driven data fluency”.

As a result of this scenario, Temkin believes it will be another three to five years before CX progresses into the mainstream, not least because most enterprises are currently just moving through the first of three waves of adoption.

The first wave consists of deploying some form of CX or XM platform plus analytics and dashboard functionality to help organisations start collecting and distributing customer experience data, which can then be combined with operational information to create “signal data”.

“So experience data is what you collect, but signal data is what you take from that information,” Temkin says. “For example, if a telco sees that young consumers in the South East are reacting poorly to a particular service, that’s a signal.”

CX: the difference between success and failure

Other key technology initiatives that are currently being prioritised by CX teams, the NTT study indicates, include customer journey management and the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) software. The latter is mainly taking the shape of virtual assistants, natural language processing and machine learning applications to undertake specific tasks rather than acting as a means of automating the entire business.

The second CX wave, meanwhile, is about introducing more intuitive analytics tools and integrating the CX system and underlying processes more tightly with organisational workflows. It is also about designing effective ways to put information and insights into the hands of employees who can take action on them.

Finally, the third wave will take place when a clear understanding exists of what data is required to operate effectively, Temkin says. In other words, companies’ CX system and processes will be able to provide staff with the right information to take immediate and appropriate action when dealing with customer issues, whether that means starting an action ticket or informing the customer support team of a particular problem.

But, he advises, it is important to bear in mind that CX is not just about how you treat an individual customer – instead, it is about “creating an entire system that continues to learn”.

“This system propagates insights and adapts rapidly in a repeating pattern that you have to make faster and better across the organisation. There’s no individual or team that owns CX – it affects everyone,” Temkin says.

But looking further into the future, he believes that AI software will also have an increasingly important role to play due to its ability to spot “signals” much earlier. This, in turn, will inevitably mean that companies are able to “reorient themselves at a much faster pace” – something that could make the difference between success and failure in the face of yet another crisis, whether local or global.

Case study: Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer’s decision to add a chatbot to its interactive voice response (IVR) system not only led to it generating incremental sales of several million pounds, but enhancing the customer experience at the same time.

The high street retailer’s IT team started working on the initiative about 18 months ago in response to a challenge from the senior leadership team to cut costs and adopt a digital-first strategy, with the aim of moving all sales online by 2026. This situation translated into a focus on simplification and automation, which included improving support for efficient processes and eliminating inefficient ones.

To this end, the choice was made to layer natural language processing (NLP) and customer intent analysis software on top of the company’s IVR system. The aim was to have the resultant chatbot act as a gateway, initially to deal with the high-volume, low-value and low-complexity customer calls coming into 12 of the company’s stores that still used legacy switchboards – although the software has since been rolled out at the company’s contact centre too.

When calling, most customers simply wanted to be put through to a specific store, department or individual, but rather rely on an expensive team of 135 switchboard operators – most of whom have since been redeployed – the aim of introducing the chatbot was to route people intelligently to the right place after establishing their intention.

As to how the system works, the NLP software, which was integrated with the telephone platform using Twilio’s speech recognition application programming interface (API), converts customer speech into text in real-time. Further integration with Google DialogFlow also enables the software to determine why the customer is calling. It then routes the call to the appropriate destination.

Much more flexibility

Chris McGrath, Marks & Spencer’s IT and digital programme manager, says the deployment has made a significant difference in customer service terms. “At the store level, it wasn’t a great service as between 60-70% of calls weren’t being answered, but that’s completely changed now,” he says.

As a result of this turnaround, the monetary gains have been high. Not only are customers happier with the service they receive, but stock enquiries are now handled by a centralised call centre rather than individual stores, which has resulted in a sales boost.

Reporting is also much quicker than previously as the retailer knows exactly how many customers are calling about what in real time. This means it is clear which products are in high demand and which are not, which helps improve forecasting.

In other words, says McGrath: “We’ve turned the system from not providing actionable insights into providing actionable insights.”

He also indicates that, although the expectation had been that 10% of calls would still need to be managed by humans, in reality 97% of customers are happy to communicate with the chatbot and have it route their call.

Such levels of acceptance are particularly important during the current Covid-19 lockdown when the number of contact centre agents required to work from home has expanded greatly.

“From a call centre point of view, it’s been really challenging as while supporting food-related enquiries is an essential service, we have a duty of care in not bringing people together. So, NLP technology has given us much more flexibility at the front end in redirecting calls, which has been really useful there,” McGrath says.

By Cath Everett

Sourced from ComputerWeekly.com

By Blake Morgan.

Digital transformation and customer experience go hand in hand. These 100 statistics show the growth and importance of digital transformation, its impact on customer experience and digital challenges and opportunities for the future.

Growth of Digital Transformation

70% of companies either have a digital transformation strategy in place or are working on one.

21% of companies think they’ve already completed digital transformation.

40% of all technology spending in 2019 will go towards digital transformation.

Companies will spend a total of more than $2 trillion on digital transformation in 2019.

Most digital transformations are driven by growth opportunities, followed by increased competitive pressure and new regulatory standards.

Executives say the top benefits of digital transformation are improved operational efficiency (40%), faster time to market (36%) and the ability to meet customer expectations (35%).

60% of companies that have undergone a digital transformation have created new business models.

55% of startups have adopted a digital business strategy, compared to 38% of traditional companies.

89% of all companies have already adopted a digital-first business strategy or plan to do so.

The top industries for digital-first business strategies are services (95%), financial services (93%) and healthcare (92%).

39% of executives believe their companies will get the most value from digital transformation initiatives in three to five years.

Nearly 77% of companies say their relationship with technology is average or above average.

65% of companies are positive about their ability to adapt to technological disruption over the next three years.

44% of companies have already started a digital-first approach to operations and customer engagement.

Only 7% of companies have fully implemented their digital transformations.

By 2020, more than 40% of all data analytics projects will involve customer experience.

27% of companies say digital transformation is a matter of survival.

87% of companies think digital will disrupt their industry, but only 44% are prepared for a potential digital disruption.

71% of digitally mature companies say they can attract new talent based on their use of data, compared to 10% of early-stage digital companies.

55% of marketers are prioritizing more effective audience segmentation and targeting.

52% of marketers around the world say driving growth through digital transformation is their top strategic focus.

Of companies that haven’t started a digital transformation, 59% fear it might be too late.

55% of companies without a digital transformation believe they have less than a year before they start to lose market share

Nearly half of all companies say improving customer experience and customer satisfaction were the leading influences to start a digital transformation.

45% of executives don’t think their company has the right technology to implement a digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Success

Companies that earn $1 billion a year earn an additional $700 million over three years by investing in customer experience.

56% of CEOs say digital improvements have led to increased revenue.

Digitally mature companies are 23% more profitable than their less mature peers.

More than 50% of digital transformation efforts fizzled completely in 2018.

39% of outperforming companies have a fully integrated digital-physical strategy.

Digital-first companies are 64% more likely to achieve their business goals than their peers.

Just 19% of companies have a customer experience team that helps bridge gaps in the business.

Fewer than 30% of a company’s technology vendors are actively involved in their digital transformations.

Of the $1.3 trillion spent on digital transformation in 2018, an estimated $900 billion was wasted when initiatives didn’t meet their goals.

70% of digital transformations fail, most often due to resistance from employees.

Digital transformation and a focus on customer experience can generate a 20-30% increase in customer satisfaction and economic gains of 20-50%.

Only 16% of employees in one survey said their company’s digital transformations have improved performance and are sustainable long term.

Employees at companies with less than 100 employees are nearly three times more likely to say their digital transformation was a success than employees at companies with more than 50,000 employees.

Impact of Customer Experience

62% of companies view customer experience delivered by a contact center as a competitive advantage.

Two-thirds of a company’s competitive edge comes from its customer experience.

Consumers who have an emotional connection with a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value.

The most common experience metrics tracked by executives are overall revenue (24%) and Net Promoter Score (23%).

67% of consumers will pay more for a great experience.

74% of business buyers say they’ll pay more for a better B2B experience.

Loyal customers are five times more likely to buy again and four times more likely to refer the brand to family and friends.

76% of consumers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.

Only 31% of companies are actually experience-led.

Experience-led companies have 1.6 times higher customer satisfaction rates and 1.9 times higher average order value.

79% of U.S. consumers only consider brands that show they care.

70% of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are treated.

Omnichannel Experience

Companies with the strongest omnichannel experiences retain 89% of their customers on average, compared to 33% retention for companies with weak omnichannel customer experience.

89% of customers get frustrated when they have to repeat their question to multiple customer service agents.

The percentage of companies investing in omnichannel experience has increased to more than 80% from 20%.

83% of consumers say they want the ability to move between channels when talking to a brand, but only 50% of companies support cross-channel interactions.

74% of marketers say it is important to have a cohesive omnichannel experience.

73% of shoppers use more than one channel during their shopping journey.

Growing Technologies

84% of customer-centric companies focus on the mobile customer experience.

Just 36% of contact centers use any kind of cloud technology.

93% of companies consider innovative technologies as necessary to reaching their digital transformation goals.

60% of businesses in North America use public cloud platforms, a five time jump from the number that used them five years ago.

60% of executives believe connected technology and the Internet of Things will play an important role in their company’s digital strategy.

68% of global business leaders believe the future of business involves humans and AI working together.

70% of businesses will use a multi-cloud strategy in 2019, up from less than 10% in 2017.

By 2022, your personal device will know more about your emotional state than your own family.

34% of marketing leaders believe AI will lead to the biggest improvement in customer experience.

80% of companies have already adopted AI chatbots or have plans to do so by 2020. 

By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse.

84% of customer-centric companies prioritize their mobile customer experience.

76% of companies are investing in emerging technologies.

86% of companies believe cloud technology is critical to digital transformation.

Transformation Leadership and the Workforce

25% of CIOs will take more control of digital transformation initiatives in 2019.

28% of digital transformations are led by the CIO, and 23% are owned by the CEO.

71% of leaders say the workforce is important in supporting their digital transformation strategy.

70% of companies say their CEO has an adequate or above average practical understanding of new technology.

CEOs and senior executives say digital transformation risk is their top concern in 2019.

Around 40% of companies have dedicated digital transformation teams in place.

37% of companies say digital transformation helped them create new jobs.

20% of employees said their company’s leadership doesn’t know what to do with digital transformation.

A survey of employees found the most common obstacle for digital transformation was the CEO at 35%.

80% of companies say their digital transformation efforts involve multiple business units or the entire company.

Companies with an engaged Chief Digital Officer are 1.6 times more likely to report a successful digital transformation.

55% of digitally maturing companies say they need new leaders in order to succeed in the digital environment. 

81% of employees at digitally mature companies say innovation is a strength of the company, compared to just 10% of employees at early-stage digital companies.

Customers and Technology

Intelligent systems will drive 70% of customer interactions by 2022.

63% of customers are happy to get service from a bot as long as they have the option to talk to a human agent if needed.

54% of consumers contacted brands by email in 2018, making it the most commonly used customer service channel over voice.

Customers who have a bad experience with a website are 88% less likely to return.

61% of consumers won’t return to a mobile site that had trouble accessing.

40% of consumers end up visiting a competitor’s website if they have trouble accessing a company’s mobile site.

By 2020, an estimated 25% of all customer service operations will use virtual customer assistants.

92% of customers are satisfied using live chat services, making it the support channel that leads to the highest customer satisfaction.

Nearly half of global contact center leaders predict their contact centers will grow by 5-10% in the next year.

75% of online customers expect a response within five minutes.

60% of companies think they have a good mobile experience, but only 22% of customers agree.

78% of consumers use mobile devices to connect with brands for customer service. The number jumps to 90% of Millennials.

Around half of all consumers use mobile messaging apps to connect with customer service.

65% of consumers research a product online before going to a physical store.

30% of U.S. consumers say they find customer service chatbots very effective at resolving issues, and 12% said chatbots aren’t at all effective.

60% of American consumers say they prefer digital self-service tools for customer support, such as an online knowledge base, app or chatbot.

Nearly 80% of Millennials are more willing to purchase from brands that have a mobile customer service portal.

 

Feature Image Credit: Getty 

By Blake Morgan

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the bestselling author of the new book The Customer Of The Future. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Sourced from Forbes

Are you reaching your audience directly through mobile apps? If not, there is a whole new digital market that remains, literally, untapped.

Content consumption is nearly universal on mobile devices in 2019, especially on apps. From Instacart to Waze, apps capture the attention of billions on a daily basis.Three of every four users not only say their phone is useless with apps, but default to using apps when they’re bored. Access to these app users is easily unlocked for mobile marketers, who have access to targeting capabilities that other advertising forms do not. The prevalence of in-app marketing is currently the biggest shift in the digital marketing industry especially in the rapidly growing Asian marketplace, and any brand or company not taking advantage could fall behind fast.

In an era of short attention spans, in-app advertising can attract consumers’ undivided attention in ways that billboards, television commercials, and radio segments cannot. Rewarded video ads trade users’ attention for an in-app reward, native ads integrate seamlessly into apps’ interfaces, and prioritised listings and branded promotions get products in front of potential consumers without being instantly tuned out like traditional marketing formats. Additionally, in-app ads tend to be the only ad on a user’s screen when they are shown.

Generally, audiences’ favourite apps are the ones they use most frequently. Audience networks help advertisers gain instant credibility by reaching consumers on the apps they actually use the most, rather than guessing or generalising based on less-specific data. By positively associating their brand to a potential customer’s favorite apps, marketers gain a leg up on competition trying less-refined target methods that reach digital audiences on the wrong apps and websites.

There is already proof that in-app audiences are the most valuable players to advertisers. They cost far less to reach than their desktop counterparts, while clickthrough rates for apps more than double those of the other major platforms. The fastest-growing app category right now is shopping, showing that purchasing decisions are happening more and more on mobile devices. Even if advertisers can’t always reach users on other companies’ apps, this trend only drives home that apps and the shopping process are now interconnected.

When it comes to finding the apps that will end up hosting others’ brands and companies’ advertisements, social media networks are also doing a lot of the work. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have their own audience networks that advertisers can utilise to expand their reach, and Snapchat is reportedly developing an audience network of their own right now too. Outside social media, Google and demand-side platforms also connect advertisers and monetised apps (apps where external ads can be placed) with available inventory. Today’s marketing experts have no shortage of ways to put content in front of those most likely to consume it.

Mobile apps also offer the most precise data that can be optimised to reach users. Mobile device IDs ensure ads can target any app on a specific individual’s phone rather than just the web browser app. Hyperlocal geotargeting lets location-specific advertisers, like event promoters or restaurants, only target people in a physical location close to or relevant to the product being sold.

Developments like Pocketmath’s AppGraph even empowers advertisers to target users based on the apps they already have and use. The term “customer relationship” is used frequently in 2019, but apps open up whole new strategies for marketers to reach their audiences at the right time and place to provide them an advertising experience that will provide the highest chance of a conversion and ultimate return on investment.

The digital marketing space can be overwhelming and imperfect. Users may find ways to block or filter in-app ads, while others may gradually avoid apps that serve ads from outside companies. But a trip into any coffee shop, salon, or food court will show an all-too-familiar scene of potential consumers on their phones scrolling, liking, and engaging with mobile content. Society has become app-reliant, and marketing strategies should act accordingly.

https://www.pocketmath.com/

Joanne Joynson-Hewlett is a seasoned adtech executive with over 10 years’ experience in managing and optimizing a company’s ability to balance profits and growth within the extremely fast-paced and competitive advertising and technology sectors. Combining a finance background and experience with rapidly growing companies, Joanne’s expertise and acumen in business development, business strategy, and strategic planning positions her employees and organizations for both short and long-term success. Recently elevated to CEO, Joanne has led Pocketmath’s funding and restructuring efforts while managing the day-to-day roles of her prior Chief Financial Officer position. A numbers guru, Joanne is always prepared with Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C within a rapidly changing industry. Combined with her passion for people, she has a deft understanding of how to best manage the complicated ecosystems of fast-growing companies from all angles.

Sourced from MarketingTech

By Brian Carroll

How can marketers better connect with people we hope will become our customers?

Over the few years, I’ve been researching why there’s such a disconnect between marketing and customers so I can understand how to bridge that gap.

Why? Because right now, the trust gap between marketers and customers has never been more significant.

For example, this recent Gallup Poll showed that public confidence in the honesty and ethics of marketers and sellers is at the bottom of the list.

And this survey by Hubspot showed that only 3 percent of people surveyed consider marketers and salespeople trustworthy. I’ve asked myself: how can things get better?

Quick Takeaways:

  • Focus constantly on improving the customer experience.
  • Make your communication people-centered, not product-centered.
  • Do not objectify people when following your standard sales or marketing processes.

Don’t Forget the Customer Experience

This is a problem we face in marketing. And as you’ll see much of problem is self-inflicted.

Here’s what I mean:

I think we marketers can be cynical and even snarky at times. We know good marketing. And we have well-tuned B.S. meters. We’re customers who know a great experience too.

For example, I talked with a VP of Marketing yesterday about these ideas, and he shared a recent negative marketing experience he had as a customer.

He said, “It sucks, but here’s the thing: I’m guilty of doing the same thing too.”

I asked him why marketers struggle with connecting with customers, and he replied:

I think it’s easier for us in marketing to talk about what we’re comfortable with which is the product/service we sell. And we LOVE to talk them. But what I’m not very good at is understanding what motivates our customer and how to best talk to them.

Listen to Your Own Words

The significant part of the problem is the words and jargon we choose in marketing and sales to describe what we do and the people we’re doing it for. Namely, customers and potential customers.

Why? Because our words affect how we think.

It’s something linguists call the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis which suggests that the words and the language we choose influences our thinking. I understood this intuitively, but I don’t know that I’ve helped much.

A decade ago, I wrote the book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, and it succeeded beyond my hopes. Back then, I wrote that marketing and sales come down to one thing: starting and growing relationships. And I still believe that’s true.

To help, I’ve written about things like

Be human. Use empathy. Remember leads are people.

But I realize that didn’t articulate the problem which is the words we use in the sales and marketing are object-centered, not people-centered.

Let me explain.

Understand How Jargon Influences Thinking and Perception

In my experience, our words express more than our thoughts and feelings. They reflect our motivations and values. And our customers feel them. This is why customer empathy is essential.

But more than that, our words influence brain function, i.e., how we think.

Case in point, Andrew Newberg, M.D., and Mark Robert Waldman the authors of Words Can Change Your Brain confirm this through their extensive research. In sum, their research shows that our words actually change brain function and we are astonishingly unskilled when it comes to our understanding and communicating with others.

According to Newberg and Waldman, “We communicate in so many different ways and in so many situations, but if we don’t bring self-reflective consciousness into the equation by reflecting on what we say before we say it, we’ll fail to reach the depths of intimacy and cooperation that we are capable of.”

For example, the minute I call someone a “lead” or “prospect,” I turn them into an object in my mind. And when I see someone as an object, I treat my marketing as something I DO to people rather than something I do FOR them.

We objectify people when we use jargon like leads, prospects, suspects, conversions, opportunities, pipeline, MQLs, SQLs and more.  We also use phrases like, “crush your quota,” “lead magnets, “wins,” ”closes,” “deals,” and more.

When we put ourselves in our customers’ shoes and use empathy, we can begin to see how we unwittingly talk in a way that dehumanizes people and treats them as objects.

Nobody wants to be treated as an object to convert. Instead, we need to address others as thinking and feeling people with individual needs.  So how can we identify with others and connect on a human level?

Close the Trust Gap

It’s no wonder the perception of marketers and sellers is negative, and we have a trust gap. And we’re due for a change.

It starts with the words we use which ultimately affects how we think and act towards others. We need to think about how we can connect more humanly and engagingly.

We have this incredible capacity to influence people positively or negatively.

That’s why we need to find congruency in the words we use and the ultimate purpose of marketing which is to help start and grow customer relationships.

To do this, immerse yourself in your customer’s world and think from their experience. Begin by looking at what you see and hear. And then consider the words you use from your client’s perspective. This will help inspire new language.

Also, the use of words that people-centered. For example, instead of leads, you can talk about change makers, potential customers, future customers, future advocates instead. See what I mean?

Next Steps

  1. How will you change the words that you use to describe customers and future customers?  
  2. How might you change the way you talk about what you do inside (an outside) your companies to treat people like humans rather than objects to convert?  

Based on the words and jargon we use, it’s no wonder the perception of marketers and sellers is negative, and we have a trust gap. It’s time for a change.

The post How to get your marketing unstuck and connect with customers appeared first on B2BLeadBlog.com.

By Brian Carroll

Brian Carroll knows what drives B2B buyers. As the founder of the B2B Lead Blog, a researcher and lecturer on marketing best practices, and leader in empathy marketing, he’s at the epicenter of the shifting B2B marketing landscape. Brian is the author of the bestseller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale (McGraw-Hill). He is also the founder of the B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group with 19,533+ members. Brian recently finished a stint as Chief Evangelist at MECLABS (parent company of MarketingSherpa) and is now back to helping B2B understand and execute modern lead generation and empathetic marketing with his speakingconsulting, and training workshops.   www.b2bleadblog.com @brianjcarroll

Sourced from Marketing Insider Group

Sourced from BW CI World

Innovating new business models and maximizing revenue and profits are the next set of priorities for data analytics

Infosys published a global research on data analytics from the Infosys Knowledge Institute. The survey titled, ‘Endless possibilities with data: Navigate from now to your next’, reveals that a majority of organizations are deploying analytics to enhance customer experiences and mitigate risk.

This research tries to understand how data analytics is becoming core to driving digital transformation for enterprises and makes an assessment of enterprise expectations in a world of endless possibilities with data. It also explores a range of challenges, opportunities, and the role of new technologies in the analytics world.

Highlights of the survey
* 31 percent of respondents identified the use of analytics with experience enhancement. This includes using intelligence generated by listening to internal and external stakeholders to drive extreme personalization and high quality customer service

* 28 percent respondents were interested in leveraging analytics for risk mitigation – predicting risk to enable better decision making, and detecting anomalies that could disrupt business effectiveness.

* Developing new business models by unearthing the latent needs of customers and offering innovative products and services was seen as the primary analytics requirement of 23 percent of respondents.

* Revenue and profit maximization through increasing channel effectiveness, and thereby, enhancing profitability across processes, channels and stakeholder ecosystems was the analytics priority for the remaining 18 percent.

* The majority of respondents in the U.S. (32 percent) and Europe (34 percent) stated they would like to use analytics for experience enhancement whereas in ANZ about 31 percent respondents consider it for risk mitigation.

Functions across organization are benefiting from the possibilities of data. Finance and accounting was found to use analytics the most at 32 percent, followed by marketing and operations at 20 percent and 17 percent, respectively. In terms of the emerging technologies, Artificial intelligence was perceived to deliver increased outcomes when combined with analytics at 37 percent followed by IoT and Cloud Technologies at 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

The survey found that enterprises in every industry encountered several challenges that prevented them from implementing their analytics initiatives fully. The biggest challenges stemmed from a lack of expertise in integrating multiple datasets (44 percent of respondents) and failure of understanding in deploying the right analysis techniques (43 percent).

This is where enterprises are looking up to their partners to help industrialize their analytics capabilities by creating an analytics strategy, build an operational framework, and define a process for executing and governing analytics initiatives.

Sourced from BW CI World

By

Customer experience management (CXM) is the management of customer interactions through each physical and digital touchpoint in order to deliver personalized experiences that drive brand loyalty and increase revenue, according to David Clarke, global chief experience officer at PwC.  Brands accomplish CXM programs through a combination of software, analytics, research and data-management systems. In recent years, several brands have infused CXM with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning engines that help manage customer data and predict future interactions to allow brands to serve relevant content.

“Customer journeys are either historical or hypothetical,” said Tim Linberg, chief experience officer at Verndale. “We can guide journeys, but we can’t absolutely dictate them. And, moreover, a truly customer-centric organization wouldn’t try to. What we can do, though, is use behavioral data, customer insights and marketing technologies to better understand and optimize every step of that journey. That’s customer experience management.”

Why Does CXM Matter?

Well, that’s simple: it affects your organization’s bottom line. No longer is making good products enough. According to a report released by Forrester earlier this year, the top-performing CXM brands see a direct correlation between good CXM and rising stocks. The top 20 percent of brands in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) had higher stock price growth and higher total returns than companies drawn from the bottom 20 percent, according to Forrester researchers.

Further, according to the “Customer Experience Optimization Report” by Econsultancy and Ensighten, 96 percent of company marketers and agency pundits consider customer experience optimization somewhat important or critical. Also, 94 percent of marketers and 79 percent of agency respondents said that higher engagement and conversion rates are among the many benefits of CX optimization.

The future will still be about good CX. According to the 2017 Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing Survey released earlier this year, 81 percent say that in two years they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX. And further, PwC’s latest Digital IQ report found that 65 percent of respondents see CX as critical to advancing business performance, and 70 percent see it as crucial to achieving digital transformation.

How CXM Software Helps

A strong CXM program is only as good as the software behind it. Brands need to collect, track, manage, organize, analyze, personalize and execute relevant interactions with customers and prospects and can do this primarily through CXM software. Capterra, a product review site, provides reviews of nearly 300 CXM software platforms.

CXM software can also incorporate systems like CRM, web content management, personalization engines, web analytics and most platforms within the digital experience platform ecosystem. According to Tech Target, CXM software falls into a few buckets that include:

Right CXM Tools for the Right Prospect and Customer

“Every customer, brand and campaign are unique,” ​said Josh Martin, senior director of product marketing for Perfect Sense. “Therefore, delivering a good experience requires tools that allow companies to deliver the right content in the right context at the right time.” Companies, he said, must first understand what customers they want to target. “This usually manifests itself as journey mapping,” Martin added, “and allows content creators, marketing teams, product managers, etc. to create a personalized experience that delivers value to their users.”

Having the right tools — instrumented correctly — is more important than having a lot of tools, Martin added. “A great customer experience,” he said, “allows a brand to meet customer needs and be seen as helpful. To deliver this type of personalized experience across all channels, languages and content types, requires various marketing solutions. At the core is CRM, CMS and marketing automation. In the future, artificial intelligence will help drive content and experience optimization.”

How do you bring good CX to life? By making connections, according to Clarke. Connect goals, POVs, responsibilities and ideas as they flow through the organization, according to Clarke. Connect cross-department teams and budgets to share in the commitment. Connect associate, customer and partner journeys. Connect systems and technologies to provide a platform for iteration, he added.

Technology Does Not Define CXM Strategy

To effectively manage CX, brands should not get distracted by newly available technology, according to PwC’s Clarke. “Imagine your ideal CX: don’t let technology define it,” Clarke said. “Visualize all touch points across the digital and physical world. It is most important to ensure that you are providing customers with what they need, when they need it the most.” This may mean deploying chatbot-based customer service, and other times it may mean reducing the number of clicks to get to purchase.

Brands should be thinking about democratizing CX. “CXM,” Clarke added, “isn’t an out-of-the-box solution. Great customer experiences are owned by the C-Suite and only happen through a matrix of co-dependent connections.” It’s not just on the marketing department to execute CXM. And it’s not just about using a CRM. “It should be on the agenda across functions,” Clarke said. “Having the customer in mind even when thinking of back-office system functionality has an effect on the customer. Don’t silo the responsibility. Everyone affects CX.”

Winning CX Examples

CXM is worthless without executing on good experiences for customers and prospects — and seeing more money for your brand’s bottom line. Here are a few resources that include examples of excellent CX:

Related Article: Customer Experience Measurement: Back to Basics

Putting the Customer First

In conclusion, a good CXM program leads to a CX that is consistent across channels, frictionless and valuable to the consumer, according to Verndale’s Linberg. “The promise of CXM for marketers is the ability to purposely move from ‘ready fire aim’ acquisition and retention tactics to a ‘ready aim fire’ approach that puts the customer first. This move towards true one-to-one marketing is enabled through technologies that unify customer data, and leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive personalization at scale.”

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock

By

Sourced from CMS WiRE

By Kris McKenzie

Do we all need chief customer officers to bridge a gap between marketing and tech?

Consumers are more connected than ever, and with that connectivity comes sky-high expectations about their experience with a brand. This shift isn’t just changing the tools businesses use; it’s also changing the C-suite.

The roles of the CEO, CMO and CIO are more complex than ever before. CMOs and CIOs, in particular, are tasked with transforming massive amounts of customer data into increased revenue and topline growth. As these roles continue to evolve, success hinges on a key addition to this duo: The Chief Customer Officer (CCO).

Today, many CMOs have sole ownership over the customer experience. Not only that, to increase acquisition and combat customer churn, many CMOs now control or heavily influence customer-focused technology spend.

This blurs the lines of ownership in the C-suite and can infringe on the CIO’s domain. As the traditional technology-enabler who oversees deployment, security and support, the CIO has the power to stop a new customer experience technology implementation dead in its tracks.

Given the power struggle, it’s no wonder that 47 percent of CMOs say that they lack the right tools to understand customer challenges.

Conquering those challenges requires more than technology and data; it requires companies to listen to customers.

While CMOs and CIOs have access to massive amounts of customer data, from website activity to order history, that data alone doesn’t tell a story. That story is locked inside the voice of the customer, and it’s the CCO that holds the keys.

Contact centre agents are on the frontlines of customer relations and loyalty building. Every day, customers reach out with questions or issues, and it’s contact centre agents who act as brand ambassadors on the other end of the line.

The best part? They learn what customers want and need directly from customers themselves.

Unfortunately, many companies aren’t capitalising on those interactions: 56 percent of senior leadership say they only sometimes or occasionally use data from the contact centre to inform decisions.

A recent report from McKinsey stresses the importance of customer interaction analytics, and notes that these insights can build customer loyalty, improve the employee experience and drive revenue increases of five to 10 percent.

Companies can’t afford to ignore contact centre insights. The CCO is the missing link who will finally bring the true voice of the customer to the C-suite.

Not only that, in 2018 alone, the number of communication channels is expected to grow from nine to 11. For companies that want to create a great customer experience, that’s 11 channels to hear what customers have to say.

However, it’s also 11 ways through which companies must create the right experience. Whether they reach out via phone, email, chat, social or any other method, it’s contact centre agents who best understand customer sentiment.

However, without the help of an internal champion, the customer’s thoughts and feelings never make it to the C-suite. As the CCO takes control over the entire customer experience, data silos will be destroyed, unleashing powerful customer insights on both an individual and aggregate level.

As the C-suite power triangle forms with the introduction of the CCO, he or she will bridge the gap between the CMO and CIO, allowing voice-of-the-customer data to become a fundamental driver of customer experience strategies.

CMOs will be able to quickly measure customer reaction and make informed decisions based on customer sentiment, while CIOs will be empowered to make technology decisions based on customer data and insights.

It’s a customer-centric world and companies must keep up with consumer demands. As the importance of the customer experience continues to grow, the roles within the C-suite will also change.

Data is more important than ever to driving this change, but CMOs and CIOs can’t manage the influx of data alone. It’s the CCO who can extract the voice of the customer and tell the story in all the noise.

With these customer insights, companies will ultimately increase customer acquisition, build brand loyalty and decrease churn. With the addition of the CCO, this new power triangle can transform the customer experience.

By Kris McKenzie

Kris McKenzie is general manager for EMEA at Calabrio. He is responsible for Calabrio’s EMEA operations and go-to-market efforts. He oversees sales, operations, strategic partnerships and customer success.

Sourced from Minute Hack