Customer experience is high on the priority list for many IT leaders. As I noted in a blog I posted last month, 82 percent of 100 CIOs and CTOs from companies with 500 to 10,000 employees that were recently surveyed by Yankee Group place customer experience as their top strategic priority this year.
As the economy continues to improve and companies look grow their businesses by adding new customers and retaining existing customers, it's important for CIOs, CTOs, and other executives to develop a stronger understanding and appreciation for delivering on multichannel customer experiences.
Customers often interact with companies using multiple channels, including voice, email, SMS/MMS, chat, online, IVR, mobile, social, etc. Meanwhile, studies have shown that consumers who use multiple channels to interact with companies tend to be higher-value, more profitable customers than those who tend to use a single channel.
Problem is, few companies have taken steps to deliver consistent experiences to customers across the multiple channels that they use. According to a study conducted last year by eGain Communications, more than 70 percent of North American enterprise companies were rated "below average" or "poor" in delivering multichannel customer experiences.
So where do CIOs fit into the multichannel customer experience equation and what are some steps they can take to help companies deliver consistent and improved multichannel experiences to its customers? Here are a few starting points:
- 1) Gain CEO Commitment to multichannel customer experience. One of the primary reasons why customers receive inconsistent experiences across various channels in their interactions with companies is that each channel is typically owned and managed by a single channel manager. Each channel manager and their teams are incented to provide customers with the best possible experiences within their own channels (as determined by customer satisfaction scores and other metrics). However, channel managers are rarely incented to provide customers with consistent experiences across all channels.
CEOs and other C-level executives need to be educated on the value that multichannel customers bring to the organization as well as the importance of providing customers with consistent experiences across all channels (reduced customer churn, higher customer satisfaction, improved loyalty/long-term customer value, and increased referrals/recommendations). Once senior management understands why multichannel customer experience is critical from a business perspective, they'll be more likely to champion the support of multichannel customer experience efforts, including changes to compensation and incentives programs that are aligned with providing customers with consistent and superior experiences across all channels.
- 2) Integrate the flow of customer data across channels. Decision-makers can only develop a 360-degree view of customer preferences, behaviors, and attitudes when they have a full range of customer inputs that are made available to them. This includes information from across all customer channels supported by the company, as well as operational and transactional information. This type of information can also help channel managers as well as sales, marketing, and service leaders to identify best practices that are working in certain channels that can potentially be adopted by other channels.
- 3) Apply analytics to cross-channel customer information. Companies can identify patterns and trends with customer behavior and preferences by analyzing how customers use various channels and the feedback they offer. Analytical tools, including predictive analytics, can also help decision-makers to identify and act on "what-if" scenarios (‘if we make the following changes to the look and functionality of our mobile commerce application, we can improve customer satisfaction or Net Promoter Scores by X in these 5 regions).