A happy customer is the best business strategy of all. However, keeping a customer satisfied and engaged in the current dynamically changing environment is challenging and requires constant efforts. With digital technologies becoming mainstream, there has been an explosion of multiple channels. Therefore, managing collaborative engagement across these channels and elevating the customer experience throughout the customer journey has become highly complex.
Yet, enterprises have had to rethink their engagement strategy from selling to servicing in response to the ever-evolving customer preferences. For instance, garment manufacturers earlier sold their goods through retailers, but now many are choosing to sell directly to customers via online channels. As a result, manufacturers are having to overhaul not only their marketing strategy but also completely rethink their supply chain and distribution to ensure a consistent and superior customer experience.
Building an Effective Customer Experience
Building a compelling experience requires companies to address some key aspects:
Visibility and Responsibility: Businesses must always be visible and accessible to customers through user-friendly communication channels, easy-to-navigate interfaces, and ensure cross-linkages between channels. At the same time, customers today are expecting companies to be more responsible towards health and sustainability. For instance, they might ask questions about the origin of the product, how it was manufactured, or whether any child labour was used before buying it.
Superior Delivery Experience: Quite often, a company’s image gets distorted at the last mile, and it is essential that the company must be equipped to facilitate a superior delivery experience. Immediate confirmations, proactive alerts in case of delays, seamless collaboration with 3 rd party logistics service providers to ensure on-time deliveries, and visibility into the movement of the product throughout its entire journey, are no longer nice to have, but essentials for a modern customer journey.
Continued Engagement: Businesses need to stay engaged with customers even post-sales in the digital era. Plenty of insights gets generated in the social channels. These need to be analysed and fed back for process, product, or service improvements through active ‘listening’ programs. In the consumer durables business, actively listening to customer issues and honouring claims is essential to keep service standards high.
In reality, these practices are not easy. Given the multitude of channels, the vastness of data, and highly engaged customers, providing a uniform experience can be time-consuming and resource intensive.
Every business must build a dedicated customer support department with well-defined objectives and well-trained personnel. A multi-channel support, continuous feedback mechanism and a robust technology backbone can make a big difference to how you deliver customer experience. Of these in today’s world, technology plays the biggest role. Delivering effective customer engagement requires companies to have a broad set of technology capabilities that can equip them to orient themselves towards customer experience. Cloud apps have a critical role in facilitating the smooth adoption and deployment of these capabilities.
Cloud apps can help businesses achieve:
The ability to scale quickly and respond in real-time to market requirements and enhance customer experience is an essential capability that the cloud provides. Cloud apps offer the added advantage of shorter deployment time. For instance, while a traditional ERP will take over a year to enable the sales process, a sales cloud app can be deployed in three to four months to deliver the same results.
As global companies having multi-brand and omnichannel presence become prevalent, cloud apps can help build resilient systems that are lightweight, easy to maintain, and perform optimally. This can be achieved by having one catalogue and index with synchronization of data and a centralized view to enable faster Go-to-Market and fewer overheads instead of maintaining multiple catalogues for each country, brand, or channel. At the same time, this agility facilitates greater responsiveness and real-time visibility for customers, enhancing the customer experience.
For example, one of the biggest energy utility companies in the USA chose to move from a legacy system with hundreds of applications to a streamlined, tightly knit sales platform delivered over a combination of sales and service clouds. Besides vastly improving its call-handling capability, the company is now able to run segmented and highly customized marketing campaigns to engage consumers better.
Robust Data Governance
Data often passes through multiple applications and a mix of platforms, both company-owned and third party. Therefore, uniform data governance mechanisms to handle customer data are critical. For instance, to order through a food delivery app, the customer must move from the primary food delivery website to the payment provider’s site to possibly a discount provider’s website. The architecture of cloud apps enables easy integration across the ecosystem, given that they are API-based and adhere to global standards. Safeguarding customer data is a key part of designing a positive overall engagement experience.
Comprehensive Listening Mechanisms
As enterprises rapidly evolve in response to ever-changing customer needs, building an organization-wide culture of listening to customer sentiments becomes an essential part of ensuring a superior customer experience. A platform and methodology to listen to customers and record their experiences can facilitate better service. There could be a mechanism to register customer feedback at the point of sale, point of delivery, and even later in the lifecycle. Cloud apps can ensure easy deployment and function for these capabilities. The solution must bring together customer data, machine learning, and microservices technology to power real-time customer experiences across all areas of business.
A major seeds company reinvented the way it engages with customers, by deploying a feedback mechanism on the cloud that captures key stakeholder sentiments at the moment of delivery to enable continuous improvements in customer satisfaction levels and build brand loyalty.
As the paradigm for customer engagement continues to evolve, the flexibility to address changing requirements will be critical. Organizations will continue to be challenged as cloud apps play a crucial role in helping organizations to navigate this change.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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