Three CRM 'hacks' for the Age of Customer Experience

17th May 2015

Consumer expectations are rising. Today’s customers expect to get service wherever they may be – on a phone, on the web, in a store, in an app – and they don’t want those channels to feel disconnected. They also expect you to anticipate their needs, just like Amazon’s single-click Dash button and Uber do as they continue to raise the bar for customer experience.

So what will the future of customer experience look like? And how will customer relationship management (CRM) applications need to adapt to track customer touchpoints across channels and deliver relevant, informed experiences?

It’s time for organisations to align their CRM delivery to today’s customer and business demands. This starts with developing a CRM strategy that clearly defines objectives for how organisations want to engage with customers across their dynamic journeys and how they can uniquely set themselves apart.

CRM has traditionally been limited to marketing, sales and service. This new world order means CRM systems must extend easily across functional silos and into the operations of a business to ensure that every customer experience is complete and frictionless and every promise is fulfilled. CRM needs to deliver end-to-end support – from the first initial marketing touch through sales, onboarding, service and ultimately through growth of the customer relationship.

Businesses today can benefit from CRM 'hacks' – useful tips on next-level CRM strategies – that will shape the future of customer engagement. To maintain competitive advantage, organisations should consider the following: 

  1. Customers will find more ways to connect with you – and you need to manage touchpoints across all channels. Today we talk about channels like mobile, the web, social media and the contact centre. Connected devices and wearables are already showing up as service channels in many industries. We can expect an expansion of channels, and customers expect to be able to have conversations that move seamlessly between them. Consumers can start watching a Netflix movie on their phone, watch a little more on their TV and finish it on their iPad; customers will expect the same types of experiences from the businesses they interact with and as a result, CRM applications need to map and manage individual customer journeys as they move from web to mobile to call centre to store.
  2. If you anticipate customer needs – they will reward you for it. Too many service organisations still can’t connect what a customer was doing on their website to the call they just made to the contact centre. The best customer experiences in the future will go far beyond that. They will use the full set of the customer’s context – everything we know and anticipate about the customer – to ensure every interaction delivers exactly what the customer needs, and offers new products and services that customers actually want. This real-time intelligence will be available for customers on self-service channels, but will also guide agents and employees to give better service to customers they interact with directly.
  3. Organisations need to design their operations from end-to-end to deliver great customer service. Amazon doesn’t have a reputation for great customer service just because it has a great website or a mobile app. The entire operation of Amazon (how they fulfill orders, maintain inventory, etc.) is built around delivering a great experience. Organisations are learning the hard way that sticking a new front-end – even a Cloud-based, mobile front-end – in front of siloed and disconnected processes simply means you are connecting your customers to a bad experience.

Customers expect each interaction with an organisation – whether with marketing, sales, service or operations – to be seamless, straightforward and tailored to their needs. Customers who receive consistent and relevant experiences that deliver on their needs are more likely to remain loyal and recommend a company to their friends. If they’re dissatisfied, it’s easier than ever for them to take their business elsewhere or share their negative experience with others via their social network. This new generation of customers will either devour brands they love or disparage those that they don’t.

The future of customer engagement will connect marketing, sales, service and back-office operations to deliver a seamless journey. It’s time for CRM applications to evolve to meet the changing demands of today’s customers – and it starts with these simple hacks.

Robin Collyer is marketing and decisioning specialist at Pegasystems.

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