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customer experience

Hyper everything: How tech integration is changing customer communication

By Michael Wright, CEO, Striata 

A raft of new technologies, many of which are easily integrated into existing channels, are changing the way organisations communicate with their customers. 

Chatbots, voice integration, and dynamic (hyper-personalised) content, amongst others are at the forefront of this evolution. But organisations cannot simply implement these technologies and expect dramatic improvements in their customer communication efforts. 

Instead, they have to ensure that any new technologies are utilised in line with the broader goals of customer communication; that is, making communication as valuable to the customer as possible.   

AI and meeting customer needs

With any form of customer communication, the aim should always be to move with the customer through their stages of life and offer the customer appropriate services at each stage. 

So, for example, in the insurance world, a customer may start with renter’s insurance as a single person and move to homeowner’s insurance, car insurance and life insurance as their personal circumstances change. 

Here, artificial intelligence (AI) has an important role to play. In the customer communication space especially, AI-based systems are useful for predicting user behaviour and providing content based on that prediction to prompt the user’s next action.

Organisations are already seeing the value AI provides in this regard, integrating it into email, billing, and mobile payments, all of which contain forms of customer communication. 

AI is also driving the use of chatbots, which appear on websites and instant messaging services, as automated virtual assistants.  

Not only are chatbots useful for customer service,  but also for invoicing and payment collections.  

The rise of voice 

But good customer communication isn’t just about baking new technologies into existing channels. It also means embracing the technologies your customers are actually using. 

One example of this is voice recognition.  

By 2020, Gartner predicts that 30% of web browsing will occur without a screen. And 55% of American teenagers will use speech recognition, daily. 

It’s only natural, therefore, that customers will want to interact with organisations via voice. Any organisation that invests in integrating voice technology into its customer communications now stands to give itself that extra edge over its competitors.    

Micro-segmentation and hyper-personalisation 

If an organisation is going to integrate these technologies successfully, it needs to ensure that it couples them with real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product and service information to each user. 

The more information an organisation has on each customer, the more meaningful and valuable its communication will be. 

Broadly referred to as hyper-personalisation and micro-segmentation, this use of data means being able to provide content that is relevant on the day / month / life stage of that customer. It allows the company to provide information that improves the customer experience due to the very personal nature of the content. 

Moreover, hyper-personalisation is proven to build loyalty and trust, that ultimately makes customers more profitable. 

A dual approach

Putting the customer back in the centre of customer communication requires more than technology alone. Like the human-centred design approach (putting the customer at the core of the product design process), communication design should be too.

Asking customers directly what content they want to receive, when and how, is invaluable to the design process. This dual approach enables the organisation to combine preference and engagement data (technology), with input obtained directly from the people best suited to design the process: customers and employees (humans). 

By taking this integrated approach, organisations can ensure that they provide customers with the kind of communication they need and want. 

About the author – Michael Wright launched Striata in 1999.  A Chartered Accountant by profession, he started his career at PwC where he was responsible for Internet Strategy & Services and Business Information Services. The technology bug having firmly bit, he moved to VWV Interactive as Managing Director before founding Striata. He was the founder of the South African chapter of First Tuesday, the “Global Thought Leadership Network”. As Striata’s CEO, Wright is responsible for the company’s vision, mission and the business’ global expansion

Hyper everything: how tech integration is changing customer communication 

By Michael Wright, CEO, Striata 

GUEST BLOG: The changing face of customer loyalty

New research shows that 76% of consumers admit they would switch to a competitor if they have just one bad experience with a brand they like.

On the flipside, over half of consumers say that once they’re loyal to a brand, they’re loyal for life. This offers the question – how loyal are consumers actually being towards their favourite brands, and what will it take for a consumer to have a bad experience? 

Dino Forte, CEO at Ventrica, investigates…

Gaining loyal consumers and advocates is something most brands aim for; but given the research, how far can this really be stretched? Unfortunately, many brands take loyalty for granted. The brands that hold a monopoly over a market, with unique products or services that can’t be found elsewhere, are often the strongest culprits of this, knowing their customers will continue to return regardless of the customer service they provide.

However, even in this situation, delivering a customer experience (CX) that meets the customer’s expectations and needs, is critical. Even for organisations in industries such as utilities where many consumers stay with their provider to avoid the hassle of switching, CX is still key. After all, it is six times more expensive to win new business than to retain it; showing how essential it is for organisations to look after their customers, even if they are confident they won’t leave.

New touchpoints and skilled staff

The fact is, delivering a CX that enables an organisation to remain competitive and encourage the customer to return is a big challenge. With numerous touchpoints now available to today’s consumer – from social media, to the organisation’s website, webchat and phone calls – how can a brand ensure it reaches its customers across all channels but provide the same experience, irrespective of channel?

All consumers will agree that a ‘bad’ CX involves a frustrating experience, long waiting times, unanswered questions, unknowledgeable staff, faulty products or simply not being listened to. Can we really blame them if an experience like this makes them want to switch to a competitor?

However, it doesn’t need to be like this. An organisation’s contact centre should form the heart of the CX it provides, with a trained, dedicated team ready to answer queries and resolve any issues the customer may have experienced across multiple channels. A customer service team should completely embody the persona of the brand; understanding who the customer is, what issue they’re facing and how it can be resolved in a quick, seamless manner that leaves the customer satisfied and eager to purchase a product or service again.

If a bad experience strikes, an organisation can’t blame a customer for wanting to look elsewhere. It’s therefore essential for organisations to put measures in place to ensure that all channels are equipped to provide the best CX possible – so that a customer’s loyalty never comes into question at all.

GUEST BLOG: Customer Experience – The latest silo in the marketing mix

Joey Moore, Head of Product Marketing, Episerver

For years, marketers have talked—and written—extensively about the disconnect between marketing and IT. Who should own email lists and sensitive data? Who should have access to the website CMS? Who should decide which marketing automation platforms to install? These are just a few of the questions that have plagued the marketing/IT debate.

In 2019 however, this debate finally feels like it’s come to a close. According to new research from Episerver, 93 percent of marketers now have the ability to directly edit their company’s website, while 80 percent expect to have complete ownership over their brand’s web presence within the next two years.

Instead of seeing this as a ‘land grab’ from IT, however, 62 percent of marketers say they are simply working collaboratively with their IT departments in order to reduce silos and ensure the best customer experiences. While this is great news for customers, the problem of marketing silos has not gone away for good. Instead, a new debate has started to rage—this time between marketers and the new wave of customer experience (CX) professionals.

Over the last few years, customer experience has become a central topic for most businesses, with as many as 35 percent hiring specific teams and individuals to manage the CX journey. In contrast, only 45 percent of marketers feel they have genuine autonomy over the customer experience, with many feeling that CX teams aren’t delivering the same quality of experience that marketers themselves would provide if they were in charge.

As a result, Episerver’s research shows that as many as 80 percent of marketers are planning to take over the CX role by 2020, removing the need for standalone customer experience departments and professionals.

While new technologies are making it easier than ever for marketers to control elements of the customer experience, by attempting to force out CX teams, marketers are falling into the exact same trap they did with IT.

Just as IT teams work across so much more than just marketing technologies, today’s CX teams also provide a far more all-encompassing view. Working with customer service departments, contact centres, HR and employee training courses, the remit of today’s CX professionals goes well beyond just marketing. Given this fact, marketers should be careful about biting off more than they can chew.

Instead, what is needed is a joint approach, one in which marketing and CX teams work together and collaborate in the best interests of the end customer. Technology can enable this collaboration, providing a seamless link through which marketing and customer experience teams can decide the CX direction of their company and ensuring it’s implemented across all levels of the brand. This will be the future of CX, not total marketing ownership, but technology-driven collaboration.