Information Technology

This is the year CX stamps its mark

By John Duffy, VoiceSage
Information Technology
Published: 14 July 2017

The world has changed. We have more choice than ever and we are also more demanding. This has made customer experience one of the big market differentiators. VoiceSage’s John Duffy looks at how technology is helping organisations to deliver on the promise

As markets become more disruptive and competitive, customer experience (CX) is firmly on the corporate agenda as it is the route to interacting with and building a loyal customer base – and is a way for organisations to stand out from the crowd.

Organisations have been quick to spot the importance of CX. According to analyst firm Gartner, 89% of marketing leaders in 2016 were looking to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience, compared to 36% 4 years ago. Nothing has changed. If anything that figure will have risen.

Customers today can easily compare experiences across industries and share them. This makes organisations more accountable and challenges them “to create a superior customer experience that will serve as a substantial differentiator,” according to Gartner.

In a recent survey we carried out in partnership with the UK Contact Centre Forum, we found organisations are increasingly turning to technology to help deliver on CX across industries to get a competitive advantage.

So what were the key take-aways? UK organisations are already delivering on proactive CX, a combination of data and insight that enables them to pre-empt customer needs and solve issues, often before customers know they have them. Despite the rise in social media and smartphones, the landline is surprisingly still the tool of choice to reach out to customers. SMS, however, is gaining ground.

Finally, the ‘omnichannel’ model is establishing itself. Omnichannel is a multi-channel approach that is designed to provide the customer with a seamless, integrated communications experience across channels – for example voice, SMS, email or social media. In fact, we found that a significant number of organisations have already invested and deployed integrated information and contact routing systems to support omnichannel.

It is important to point out that the profile of the respondents to our survey was broad, including accountancy service providers, building management systems, leisure companies and the public sector, including environmental, council tax and housing teams. We believe that this has provided us with an accurate and authoritative picture of what is happening in the CX arena in the UK right now.

Plotting the customer journey
The value of creating a customer experience that exceeds the customer expectation is well known. Organisations must be able to manage the customer journey from contact through to engagement – eventually building a relationship to create a loyal customer.

According to consultancy firm McKinsey “It’s not just about designing the best product or service but rather about striking the right combination and making sure the integrated customer experience is compelling”.

Although some organisations are finding following the customer journey cycle from beginning to end a challenging one, the majority have made significant advances. Nearly 56% of respondents said they can provide team members with access to customer histories on an issue across all channels. A further 18% said they are looking at incorporating these capabilities. This shows that UK companies have recognised the power of the omnichannel in customer engagement.

The proactive route
As well as dealing with customers’ issues and needs, proactive communication via personalised, relevant messages helps to build a strong relationship with customers over their preferred communications channel.

The proactive approach has captured the imaginations of UK organisations. 75% of respondents said they are already using a proactive approach and a further 87% said that it could potentially result in large savings on in-bound contacts.

A very high 71% believe SMS technology would mean less in-bound calls for their teams

SMS and Automated Voice fast emerging
SMS and Automated Voice are finding key positions for themselves in CX strategies, according to our survey. 51% of respondents said they use SMS, while 72% said they thought the use of text for proactive contact to be either ‘effective’ or ‘very effective’.

In addition, 19% said they have used Automated Voice, with 58% reporting it to be ‘effective’ in reaching their requirements.

The growing role of SMS: those yet to embrace proactive, show a strong preference for SMS

IT – changing the face of CX
The 2017 UKCCF Proactive Customer Service survey clearly show us that UK organisations are fast deploying technology to manage CX across touchpoints on the customer journey – and this trend will only grow.

The author is Enterprise Sales Consultant at customer contact tech services specialist VoiceSage

Download the full 2017 UKCCF Proactive Customer Service survey report here