How customer engagement goes far beyond CRM
Marketers can dramatically strengthen customer relationships by going beyond CRM and customer satisfaction, and instead proactively engaging each customer to provide a better overall customer experience, according to Keith Pearce, senior EMEA marketing director for Genesys.
An essential part of this renewed focus on customer engagement centres on the fact that the enhanced customer experience must be independent of the communication channel the customer uses or prefers. No longer can retailers rely on simply improving the in-store experience or the call centre, as more and more consumers are choosing to interact via the web and even by SMS and social media channels.
The ideal customer service experience fulfils four key elements:
- Convenience An enterprise needs to deliver on ease of contact, short wait times, through any channel the customer prefers;
- Competence Humans or self-service tools need to have fingertip access to all necessary information and be consistent across all channels;
- Personalisation Companies and their web sites must recognise and remember the customer, and use existing information about them appropriately;
- Proactivity A company must proactively reach out whether by phone, text message, or other channels. The topics range from a simple follow-up to informing the consumer about relevant products and services (while still respecting the need for permission and being mindful of customer preferences).
To deliver an ideal customer experience, it is important to have a well thought out customer experience strategy. For example, the Dynamic Customer Engagement model outlines five key factors that are critical to a successful customer service engagement strategy:
- Interactions - supporting e-services, phone, and mobile smart phones;
- Resources - skilled human resources throughout the organisation, anywhere customers are supported;
- Infrastructure - underlying voice and internet-based infrastructure;
- Processes - business processes that determine how customers are treated across all channels;
- Insights - both historical and real-time information that provides perspective.
While many companies are still adjusting to new consumer demands, some have already implemented key elements of Dynamic Customer Engagement strategies.
For example, in Germany, the telecommunications provider Freenet has used Intelligent Workload Distribution (iWD) to better react to customers when they are interested in moving to another service provider, in an environment where they process more than 150,000 requests per week. They use iWD to prioritise tasks based on the customer content. So, if a customer were to write or email asking to cancel their service, the request would immediately be scanned and brought into the CRM system where staff can apply business processes and the customer can be contacted in a matter of hours.
The speed with which the company can now react has had a significant impact on customer retention. With iWD, Freenet can quickly route the request to a retention department that will immediately initiate a proactive outbound call to the consumer. Using iWD, Freenet has reduced its average handling time by approximately 30%, increased its overall productivity by some 20%, and improved customer satisfaction by 15%.
"Clearly, the challenges of addressing a new generation of consumers will require many more companies to revamp their approach," concluded Pearce. "To prepare for the future, each company must first take a critical look at its current capabilities. Consumers are also moving quickly so companies must become even more nimble."