The department within most enterprises entrusted with managing customer contact has been traditionally viewed as a “must do” business function, though not necessarily a strategic business-driver.
But the rise of social and mobile platforms, and the emergence of the socially empowered consumer--who has higher experience expectations and a desire to share--is changing that. Enterprises are placing a higher premium on a 360-degree view of the customer experience, which is increasingly shifting customer contact into the purview of marketers.
The old model of customer contact conjures images of customer-service representatives answering phones in a siloed call center. The new model--multichannel service in the format customer preferences dictate--has organizations revamping internal processes to create social business environments that better enable customer contact, which, in turn, build stronger company-customer relationships.
How a company treats and engages a customer in this new model has more ramifications than ever before. Consider the impact of lackluster feedback on your company when encountered by a prospect collecting online opinions to make a consideration list. Aside from thoughts on the quality of a product, the “experiences of others” on how accommodating and easy your company is to do business with has an enormous impact on what is heard early on in the consideration phase. Customer contact impacts how a customer feels about a brand or organization at multiple points throughout the customer journey--from making the initial purchase, to taking the product home and experiencing it, to inquiring about warranty programs or repair services, to ultimately sharing and publically commenting on these interactions.
Marketers are familiar with the traditional concept “Moments of Truth.” In this new model, and in the high stakes environment of winning and retaining customers, customer contact can have a direct impact at virtually every customer moment of truth. If you don’t deliver exceptional service and experiences, you’ll be delivering empty moments that erode or eliminate customer relationships. It’s time for marketers to start viewing customer contact as a vital component of the total customer experience and a strategic growth driver for the organization.
Active Consumers=Active Customer Contact
Today’s consumers are using the same social channels that they use to share personal photos and post information to interact and engage with companies. According to a 2012 NM Incite study, 47 percent of consumers are looking for “active customer service,” and they are turning to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to get it. Additionally, 71 percent of those who experience positive customer service through social media stated they would turn around and recommend that brand. Companies that don’t have an active voice on social media are doing themselves a disservice.
CMOs must equip their customer-service agents with access to all of these channels in a streamlined, yet collaborative way to manage conversations on real-time platforms that customers demand. Doing so can have a clear impact on the company’s bottom line. In fact, customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20 to 40 percent more money with those companies than other customers who do not use social media to interact, according to the Bain & Company report “Putting Social Media to Work.” What company would turn down the chance to have one positive experience ignite a lucrative ripple effect by increasing the amount of money a customer is willing to spend?
Customer Interaction And The Data-Driven CMO
The customer experience has never had as many layers and touchpoints as it does today. The consumer has become the co-brand manager and assumed much of the control in the brand-consumer relationship. From being able to ask questions about a product on a brand’s Facebook page to joining an online chat with other consumers to review a product, today’s consumer has countless ways to get information and even more ways to share it.
This presents an opportunity for data-driven CMOs, as well. If CMOs address customer contact as a strategic business driver and turn to data mining and analytics, then they can unlock a continuous generator of new ideas and direction for potential future growth for the company. Multichannel customer contact allows organizations to build more robust and comprehensive customer profiles to approach future interactions with more knowledge and a deeper understanding. In addition, organizations can mine and filter multichannel customer contact data for direction around product development, R&D priorities, or other business processes.
The Ultimate Moment Of Truth
Winning today’s consumers means delivering a quality experience during the interactions that matter. Savvy companies know that customer loyalty and positive word of mouth can’t be bought; it’s earned through an integrated approach to customer engagement.
Marketing leaders must begin to consider customer contact as a cornerstone of their strategies. Organizations that embrace multichannel customer contact will have the best chance of delivering exceptional customer experiences and securing long-term loyalty.
Marketers know that today’s customers will continue to talk and share their opinions, pictures and videos at blazing digital speeds. So let’s give them good experiences to share.