by Julia Childress
The last decade was spent chasing the proverbial “360 degree” or comprehensive view of the customer. A shift is now underway where the consumer is driving the conversation, causing a need to deliver a 360 degree view of the company instead. That is, creating a consistent customer engagement across all communication channels, including voice, web, mobile, social and point-of-sale. This blog post explores how organizations can adopt a 360 degree view of the company and project a single, unified customer experience across all communication channels.
The 360 Degree View of the Customer
Companies have long struggled to form a single view of their customers in order to try to understand who their customers are and what their preferences are. To achieve this, companies have taken a couple of different technology approaches. One approach is basically a massive data (re) normalization effort that tends to be very costly, time consuming and has high failure rates. The other approach involves “surface integration” technology; while it is a bit more tactical, this approach is generally faster to implement at a lower cost and lower risk, but does not necessarily reduce the overall portfolio of IT applications.
The mobile revolution and the customer view
While gaining a 360 degree view of the customer has become easier due to better technology and better implementation processes, a massive adoption of mobile devices has revolutionized our view of the customer. The mobile revolution has given customers unprecedented accessibility to companies and they expect those companies to respond accordingly. Mobile customers want to interact with companies when they want to, and how they want, across multiple touch points.
Industry experts predict that within a few years the majority of customer engagements will originate from a mobile device, making it the largest engagement channel. So companies need to be prepared to deliver a satisfying experience or be prepared to pay the price.
Customers have come to anticipate that a conversation started in one channel (such as web self-service) will seamlessly transition to an agent in a contact center, with continuity of the conversation or session.
Most of us have experienced the frustration when a company’s website states one thing, but we are told something different by the agent. For the on-demand mobile customer, this frustration is no longer tolerated. Companies must provide a single, unified experience for their customers or they will move on.
How to integrate communication channels
Creating a single view of the company necessitates a look at both the technology and the content. At the most basic infrastructure level, vendors have long provided the technical ability to integrate channels. The more challenging problem has been the delivery of consistent content and the ability to convey the nature of the interaction across the various communications channels (web, mobile, point-of-sale, chat, social, IVR, voice). Given that each channel resides on its own technology platform, there has been little content sharing.
Newer products on the market hope to address these issues by providing a single “designer” to create customer service interactions that can be executed in any channel. These products take the approach that your customer interactions solve some core issue, and they should be reused, consistently, across any channel. For example, agent scripts can be transformed and reused in web self-service scripts, mobile self-service scripts, projected to social channels such as Facebook, and even automatically converted to an IVR tree. By centralizing the designing of customer interactions into one common technology, customers start to receive a consistent experience no matter what the channel. This prevents the fractured experience of receiving different information on the website and when calling in to the call center.
Customer interactions based on one common technology have the added benefit of being able to more easily share data across various instances of the same interaction. For instance, a user utilizing a mobile self-service interaction is able to reach out to an agent at any time with full continuity of the conversation or session, meaning the agent has access to all the steps performed by the customer and all the data entered up to that point. This type of information not only prevents customers from repeating information (resulting in significantly reduced call handle time), but also allows the agent to accurately understand and even predict the nature of the call or the problem.
First session resolution – the ultimate goal
Communication channels into an organization are only increasing, with each new channel fracturing the customer experience further. With the advent of mobile as the new engagement channel, we can expect customers to “channel surf” and transition from one channel to another more than ever in an effort to resolve their issues in a single session. Organizations should adopt a uniform channel content sharing strategy early on to tame channel complexity. By focusing efforts on creating self-service interactions that can be used across multiple channels, and allowing self-service sessions to seamlessly start in one channel and finish in another, you are ensuring a consistent customer experience. Put another way, you will be delivering the 360 degree view of your company.