We live at a time where all organisations face greater challenges than ever before to remain relevant to customers. It is not simply ecommerce platforms, personalisation products and online systems that serve up the customer experience. Internal business culture, ways of working, a connected approach to customer data, consistent messaging and a cohesive content strategy – these things all define how the end experience is communicated out to the customer audience.
Too many businesses outsource the control of the customer experience to third party systems and suppliers. With the numerous disparate systems and disconnected data sets between systems, cracks emerge. The experience is far from seamless. It is up to senior leaders within business, to ensure that the culture they cultivate is one that has the customer at the heart of strategic planning. Here’s how to ensure you don’t fall short of customer expectations and lose market share.
1. Ensure technology and digital are represented at the top
In order to define a technology and digitally literate business culture, it’s no longer acceptable to delegate understanding and decisions around digital and technology down the chain. Ensuring that technology and digital specialists are represented at Board level creates the right business culture for innovation to thrive. Customer centricity is facilitated by technology and a rounded understanding of this concept has to be at the heart of the strategic planning process. Leaders need to take full ownership of technology based decisions in order for them to lead by example. At the highest level, internal strategic planning has a direct impact on the outputs of the organisation – and therefore the experience the customer enjoys (or not).
2. Break down ‘siloes’ to build leaner ways of working
‘Siloed’ is a term that is part of almost every discussion about the current challenges in internal business culture. Silos have been around a while. If your directorates are siloed in their ways of working, the delivery of the customer experience will also be disconnected. From the board to front line delivery, ensure multidisciplinary teams are feeding into planning decisions on digital and technology projects. Having cross organisational teams feeding into technology and digital project decisions from the beginning, means that opinions from critical corners such as operations and compliance are not heard only at the last minute. This means that customer journeys are considered in a holistic manner, from planning to delivery.
3. A more connected, internal approach to using data ensures better customer experiences
There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than having to repeat the same interactions through multiple channels, whether it’s trying to make a purchase, a complaint or anything else. There’s now an expectation that a history of interactions has been recorded and that people’s experiences will be smooth and seamless. From customer call centres, to websites, web-chats or face to face meetings – we expect the left arm to know what the right is doing. The reality for many organisations is that these channels are disconnected more often than not. Organisations need to consider whether their systems and technology infrastructure is fit for purpose and integrated in a way that makes for a highly personalised – and enjoyable – customer experience.
4. Ensure consistent messages across digital channels
Once your systems are connected, you can ensure your communications are consistent. Landing a message across multiple channels, whether it’s a sales offer, a personalised opportunity or any campaign, gives you a far greater chance of your customer seeing that message and acting on it. Consistent campaign messages are essential to ROI of marketing spend, but you also want your customers to enjoy the benefits of being a valued customer, and you should be able to reward their loyalty.
5. A digital content strategy puts you where your audiences are
Effective use of digital channels and tools can dramatically improve your reach and capacity to measure activity. Using multiple externally facing platforms (web, apps, social) to articulate your brand and service offering gives you better reach, but it also ensures that you’re being active in the places that your customers choose to spend their time. Being open towards partnerships and ecosystems of partner technologies can dramatically increase your audience reach. It also allows them to plug together services that are complementary, therefore improving their overall experience. Look at the level of integration and compatibility of products and services such as Facebook and Spotify.
It’s clear that an internal understanding of the opportunity that digital offers enables an organisation to produce more effective and cohesive products and services. It is this connectivity and cohesion that is then replicated in a seamless customer experience. Conversely, if the internal business culture, systems and data are siloed, the resulting customer experience is similarly disconnected and fractured. At a time when customers are expecting more, the challenge for businesses to stay ahead and become future fit is greater than ever.
First published on Fourth Source 19/06/2017