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Important to understand entire customer journey

Nov 23 2016 17:12
Carin Smith

Cape Town - Most organisations need to get a better understanding of their customers' profiles, their preferences, needs and demands, Deon Scheepers, senior manager operations of Interactive Intelligence in Africa, told Fin24.

"The biggest thing right now is that organisations must interface with customers more to know how they value good customer services. Organisations must find opportunities to collect feedback from customers when they interact with the organisation – understanding their experience along the entire customer journey," explained Scheepers.

During that journey a customer could have positive and negative experiences.

"Collecting data is the easy part, but then it must be analysed. Organisations struggle to analyse that data and turn it into actionable insight to add value for the customer and make improvements in the service channels offered. For example, the customer journey and experience using social media as a service channel might be totally different if compared to making a voice call into the contact centre," said Scheepers.

"It is, therefore, important to make sure the customer journey when using one, or across multiple channels, is measured so the customer can get seamless interaction and the brand promise is delivered in the same consistent way across all channels at all times."

Customer service is typically measured when a customer interacts with a contact centre or call centre in an organisation, usually due to a complaint or service-related issue.

"That is only one small part of the total customer experience. A customer can experience and interface with your organisation in many different ways - whether via a branch or store, marketing initiatives, social media or other departments in the organisation. This host of interfaces or touch points all create certain experiences and the customer builds a view and emotion about your organisation based on these experiences," explained Scheepers.

"We are seeing customers hopping between media-types or channels. For instance, they could surf your website looking at products to start off with. Then they might send a tweet or email to your contact centre. If these service channels offered by the organisation do not work properly and the customer cannot get the information they need, they will call the contact centre as a last resort. By the time the customer connects to an agent he or she has already wasted valuable time and will often be unhappy with the quality of service received – they will now expect and demand fast, reliable, effortless and accurate service from the agent."

Scheepers said SA is not far behind the rest of the world when it comes to customer experience, but the biggest challenge he sees is that organisations are slow to embrace the digital world, with no clear digital or digital transformation strategy.

"You need to make sure there is alignment with your customer experience strategy and where you want to take your organisation. When you activate a new customer service channel it must align with the customer experience strategy. We see a lot of organisations activating new customer service channels, but with no strategy and a lack of integration of the various channels," said Scheepers.

"It is about integrating a single view of the customer's activities which the contact centre agent can see at a glance in order to deliver personalised service at that time. We live in a digital age and it is all about information."

He cautioned that, although in the digital age lots of data is produced, if one cannot properly analyse the data and add value to your customers and organisation, the data means nothing. To analyse and get insights from the data is, therefore, a big challenge for many organisations.

"You must have some kind of digital transformation strategy in place. If you don't have the right technology and alignment with your people, processes and customer demands, you will have problems going forward," said Scheepers.

"Change is happening so fast that we are starting to see market disruption from every angle. Your biggest competitor could end up being a small e-commerce firm that you did not know existed. Digital disruption could come from anywhere, so at least create a digital strategy for your organisation that includes your customers."

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