Become One with Your Customers: How Brands Can Harness the Power of Technology and Personalization to Elevate Customer Experience
By Mark Smith, Vice President of Digital Engagement Solutions, CSG
Consumer expectations for every brand are constantly changing, and that means brands need to work in real-time to stay relevant to their interactions with customers. Today, customers balk at the idea of the traditional sales and customer acquisition approach. Instead, they want a journey that is both seamless and personalized. Luckily for brands around the world, the technology and capabilities exist to create proactive and predictive customer journeys by tapping the power of data and intelligence tools.
CSG’s State of the Customer Journey Report details insights based on over 10 billion customer interactions across multiple industries and channels in 2021. Let’s look at the ways companies are successfully building brand loyalty and trust with their customers.
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Channel Surfing with your Customers
I’m not saying you should hop on your customer’s couch with a bowl of popcorn (although imagine what you could learn if you did!). “Channel surfing” in this sense means connecting with your customers via their preferred channel and riding the wave that will get your message in front of them. Depending on what industry your company is in, your ideal channels for engagement will vary.
Telecom providers on average use a third more channels than other industries to reach customers, but phone and web reign supreme as the easiest ways for them to resolve bill pay and service issues. To keep up with the demand, telecom companies are increasing their use of customer journey technology and advanced tools like conversational AI (Artificial Intelligence). These technologies relieve the strain caused by high inbound call volume by providing contact center employees with customer background and suggested next steps to increase ease and speed to resolution.
The financial services industry has a broad range of channel use (40% more than average). They have embraced channel diversity to ensure the delivery of timely, accurate communication. That said, most of their customers now utilize their smartphones (77%) for communication. To ensure the best journey management for their customers, financial institutions should automate interactions, especially around routine questions like account balance. This added efficiency reduces operational costs and improves the customer experience.
The retail sector continued to dominate customer journey orchestration in the sheer volume of interactions, led by email (77%) and social (13.5%), while also balancing the return to in-store shopping. With that in mind, one of the easiest ways for retailers to create the best customer experiences is to increase everyday value-add and orchestrate transactional messages through the most intelligent journey workflows possible.
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Are You “All In” on Smart Notifications? You Should Be
Have you received a notification from your favorite brand about a deal on those shorts you were looking at, and thought “wow, what timing!”? Well, that’s your favorite brand using smart notifications. In 2021 alone, smart notifications accounted for 50% (5.2 billion) of all customer journey interactions with over 50% of those stemming from email.
This doesn’t mean that email is king. Phone channels (i.e. voice and SMS) are just as valuable for companies. The data backed this up as voice and SMS year-over-year volume increase were 270% and 950%, respectively. This trend highlights the growing importance and value of intelligent automated phone system technologies like interactive voice response (IVR), which can better understand customer needs and offer more self-service options for faster resolution. Phone channels have a higher level of immediacy than most other channels because consumers are more likely to check incoming calls and texts before they do with email and social.
In the end, smart notifications can come in many forms on all channels and are used by companies to alert their customers of order reminders, payment reminders, service appointments, problem/issue alerts, and more. By creating proactive and personalized messaging in context, in the preferred channel of the customer, brands can generate greater trust and loyalty.
Data is your Friend, Use It and Do So Wisely
Despite companies collecting more customer data than ever before, the data is often disconnected and lives in multiple places, making it hard for companies to get a true picture of who their customers are. Customer data platforms (CDP) can eliminate these data silos and aggregate data from multiple sources to give brands a clear view of each customer’s profile so they can create relevant, customer-centric actions that are impactful.
Once you have a unified view of the customer, the next step is to layer on technologies that enable you to intelligently orchestrate your customer communications. Solutions like machine learning, predictive analytics, and conversational AI help brands better understand where the customer is coming from and coordinate the next best action.
In the age of the digital-savvy consumer, businesses must maximize the benefits of digital communications that are intelligently coordinated, as evidenced by the expanding channel mix and rise in smart notifications. It’s time for brands to move away from the “inside out” push-centric mindset and focus more on building customer loyalty and trust by thinking “outside in”. Simply put, the digital transformation shift is here to stay and the key to winning your customer is to know who they are and be where they are.