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The Evolving Expectation on Customer Experience

Today's blog post was written by Adam Barr, Principal Consultant at Sonoma Partners.

What if I told you your ability to differentiate yourself from the competition will be dictated more by your Customer Service team than any Product Development or Innovation Office? Many organizations, several of them in your industry, have already experienced the impact of delivering a superior (or inferior) customer experience.

Various market studies forecast the increasing role of the customer experience in influencing buying behaviors and customer loyalty.

Gartner research predicts by the end of 2017, nearly 90% of marketers expect customer experience to be their primary differentiator. Aberdeen Group studies show companies that provide a consistent service quality across multiple channels retain 89% of their customers, whereas companies that do not provide a consistent quality are only able to retain 33%. Complicating matters, Google research highlights that 98% of Americans switch between devices every day.

What do all these statistics mean to you?

This means your customers have a voice; they want it to be heard; and they want it on a channel conveniently available to them. Customers realize the amplification of their voice in the social marketplace and now have a higher expectation to influence the terms of their engagement with your organization. Companies in turn have made greater investments in providing superior a customer experience.

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In a 2017 Global Contact Center study, Deloitte identified that Customer Experience (88%, up from 71% in 2015) and Service Improvement (73%, up from 57% in 2015) are clear priorities for growth in the contact centers. More than 80% of organizations reported that customer feedback is “core to their DNA” or “a core input to business decision,” nearly doubling from 45% in 2013.

Omni-Channel vs. Multi-Channel

There is a distinct difference between multi-channel and omni-channel.  Multi-channel refers to organizations leveraging more than one channel (i.e. phone, web, email) to engage with customers, but it does not necessarily mean the experience is consistent or well-transitioned from channel to channel.  Multi-channel has become the table stakes for many customer support operations. Omni-channel also consists of organizations leveraging two or more channels to engage with their customers, however, with an omni-channel strategy, there is significant focus paid towards delivering a seamless and consistent experience regardless of channel or device.

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The complexity of the interaction will still dictate the initial channel with which the customer engages your organization. Remember, from the customer perspective, the channel must be fluid and dynamic while still maintaining a consistent experience. Across the 450 global leaders surveyed in Deloitte’s Global Contact Center Survey, many indicate their organization invests less in voice solutions while focusing more effort in providing a variety of options. Voice is expected to remain the most prominent channel, but is predicted to fall from 64% of total interactions today to 47% in 2019. Web chat is expected to grow from 6% to 16%. SMS, video, and social are all expecting to double, although remaining under 10%.The channel preferences for customers are not only evolving; they are dynamic. An effective omni-channel solution needs to account for the fact that Customer A may phone you in the morning, follow up with a chat conversation, review an article attempting to resolve their issue, then email a support agent to close the day. All interactions must be captured in a centralized, logical, insightful fashion to appropriately meet the customers’ expectation for service. 89% of customer’s express frustration having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. At its core, an omni-channel strategy is one in which all independent channels work cohesively as one unit to provide a superior customer experience.

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Consumer interactions will only continue to increase in volume, due to additional channel access, and complexity, with the ever-increasing expectation of superior customer experience. These trends are not exactly new. Numerous market research firms have been forecasting the need for organizations to adopt a more customer-centric model for years. However, what has changed in the marketplace is the availability of tools for organizations to truly enable an omni-channel experience while minimizing internal business disruption.

In my next post, I will detail the technologies leaders are embracing to appropriately compete in a consumer-centric marketplace and explain how you can setup an omni-channel solution with CRM.  For more information on how we can help you build further upon – or develop a new – omni-channel solution, contact us!

Topics: CRM Best Practices