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Creating the fluid consumer experience for consistent profits

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That gift you ordered for your wife’s anniversary? It’s MIA. Try calling customer services and you quite likely face a nightmare of half hour wait times, disruptive global transfers, and repeating your woes with additional frustration to each new representative, not being of much assistance…or sometimes, sadly enough, competence.

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Reliability. Rote. It’s precisely that which your consumers expect each time they contact your company — regardless whether that contact regards researching a product, completing a sales transaction, or getting customer service — over all communication channels a company proffers is presumed a pleasant fluidity across the social, electronic, and vocal commerce grids.

Your customers also expect their preferred companies to have a thorough documentation and thus understanding of their past purchase history and prior interactions. Finally, they further expect that each interaction with you will add value to their prior interactions so that, for example, they will not have to repeat themselves to any service agents during transfer or when migrating from one communication channel to another during a multistep interaction.

How many companies can deliver a consistent service experience in the scenario depicted in the lead-in picture? To illustrate, a random individual browsing her typical local community forum notes a particular post discussing vintage jewelry—one of her favorite collectibles. Taking care to study the store named, she then looks up online the business itself and discovers an independently-run store website. The site has “Like” and “Tweet” social media options, wherein visitors, should they appreciate the information and products provided, simply click upon the applications, providing immediate higher visibility status on the web for the business in any given vintage jewelry/jewelry search. Voila! Public Relations reciprocity.

Meanwhile, our customer now emails a customer service agent, having found a certain item she absolutely must have, all while browsing the business’ wares in virtual reality. She is then transferred to a live agent who takes purchase order information in a new, layered screen, already appended to the page, item and order number over which she is ogling…and on goes the transaction. Smooth sailing, with one satisfied customer.

Three fundamental elements are needed to deliver a consistent customer experience across all communication channels at a corporation’s disposal:

  1. A unified communications model.Companies need to queue, route, and work on every interaction over all communication channels in the same manner, following the company business processes that uphold its brand.
  2. A unified view of the customer.Each agent needs to have a full view of all interactions that a customer has had over all supported communication channels, so that the agent can build on the information and experience that has already been communicated to the customer.
  3. Unified knowledge and data. Agents need to have access to the same knowledge and the same data across all communication channels so that they can communicate the same story to their customers.

These three practices are essential should you desire to differentiate yourself from the scores of other businesses that simply do not align their data, agents, and services together into one smoothly streamlined routine their consumers should enjoy as part of the transaction process. Obviously, the smaller a corporation, the easier to streamline this routine.

However, my own personal belief is that, unfortunately, as a company prevails fiscally, we get lost in the cracks when the finer details of consumer practices come into discussion. Yet, if a business maintains its focus upon the consumer as its number one concern, as well it should, then streamlining the consumer experience will also become a primary goal in its practices, one that keeps its new perusers pleased and the 80 percentile return users happy, even during returns.

Best-of-breed multichannel vendors such as eGain, RightNow, Moxie Software, and KANA Software have been delivering these three elements in robust solutions during the last decade for electronic channel management (e.g., email, chat, and SMS). Such technology provides an incredible step forward from those companies that have historically managed the voice channel independently from electronic channels. This is because the agents fielding electronic interactions are typically organizationally siloed from voice agents, and the core technology is not integrated. However, to deliver on the promise of consistent customer experiences, this model must now be extended to encompass all communication channels: voice, electronic, and social.

These best-of-breed multichannel vendors are extending their models to encompass voice and social channels: unified communications vendors such as Cisco, Genesys, and Avaya are also embracing this model and have developed robust chat and email solutions. These solutions use the same routing and queuing model for voice and electronic interactions. In addition, a single agent desktop allows all of these interactions to be managed in a consistent manner, enhancing productivity as agents no longer have to juggle between disconnected systems to find the information they are looking for.

Solutions now abound and the stuff of top news, astute consumers are now searching for the most integrated businesses to handle their accounts, knowing the struggling commercial economy is hungry for their money, and at this juncture, ought to be savvy enough to fight for it in the most industrious, intellectual, and innovative means available.

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