Customer service department

Rethinking customer experience and customer communication

Next level Customer Experience is now only limited by your imagination

Customer experience is a big differentiator for businesses of any size. But good customer experience can be complicated and time-consuming. It involves internal alignment, IT-support, and specialized partners. 

Luckily technology has evolved beyond these hurdles. Achieving the next level in customer experience has become more manageable and accessible than ever before. Real-time data processing from any system, automated workflows, and omnichannel communication offer new possibilities. Every business can now enable a personalized experience for every customer. 



1. Staying ahead of the curve

It’s been said before, but this is the Age of the Customer. Saturated markets and online access to products, services, and information have put the customer in control, leading to an all-time loyalty low. Brands and businesses will have to show how much they value their customers by offering the best possible customer experience. If not, it inevitably leads to churn. 


Customers expect more

The challenge is to hit a moving target as customer expectations are evolving fast. Customers are benchmarking a product or service against what they feel is standard with tech giants like Netflix, Amazon, or Spotify. These expectations raise the bar to impeccable delivery and anticipation of needs and just-in-time services and solutions. Staying ahead requires your organization to deliver more engagement than the usual transactional, statement-based communication. Customers expect real-time interaction, communicated through social and other channels of their choice. Mastering the right technology to do this has become a decisive factor in winning the game. 


Customer Communication Management: digital first

Customer Communication Management (CCM) has been around since the late ’80s. But only after moving into the 21st century, the changing pace in CCM software accelerated. New social and interactive communication channels and the cloud are playing an increasing role. 


A significant trend is ‘digital first’, a shift in priority from traditional print and voice channels to social, web, and mobile content. This is driven by the fact that consumers and B2B buyers start shopping for most products and services online. An estimated 50% to 70% of the buying experience happens online before engaging anyone at the selling company. Other vital changes in CCM are the introduction of AI, to monitor online behavior, and offer relevant information, built for cloud CCM solutions, and – last but not least – considerable improvements in connectivity and configurability. This means that business users can handle changes and tests without any IT-organization interference. 


Technology with a human touch

Managing customer experience requires a clear understanding of every touchpoint in the customer journey and a good insight into how to connect these touchpoints. It makes systematic consistency between policy, process, personnel, support, and IT indispensable. And it means a broader view of what constitutes a good experience.


Recent research underpins the need for a more human touch in customer experience development. The current focus on only cognition (brain) leaves great potential untapped in the two other dimensions of CX: affection and senses. The first generation CCM solutions has brought efficiency and scale with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. While this shift in the services industry from human to digital interaction has brought a great deal of efficiency, it lacks the human touch. Now it is time to deploy next-generation solutions that incorporate IoT, (big) data, cloud, and real-time processing to add more of this human touch, rooted in affection and senses, the two remaining elements of good customer experience.

2. Consistent CX in the customer journey

One of the biggest challenges in CCM is maintaining the same good experience across the complete journey, from the early stage of awareness and interest, via the sale or subscription to the experience afterward. Customers don’t differentiate between your organizational layers, such as finance, logistics, services, production, or marketing. To them,you are one company. 


Fixing the broken customer journey

However, the bigger the company, the larger the technological silos become to support each discipline. These large organizations were never designed to be open and flexible, but safe, highly reliable, and productive. But when customers interact with these departments, they encounter completely different experiences at various touchpoints of the organization. This leads to confusion, frustration, dissatisfaction, negative publicity, and more. And so, as the customer journey spans all silos within the company, fixing the broken customer journey is a companywide issue – not a problem for just the marketing department. And this calls for IT solutions that can interact with systems within each silo.


What if it’s not that complex anymore?

It’s not surprising that new generation CCM solutions are now gaining traction due to their great interoperability and configurability. Because the early CCM solutions are rooted in older or legacy IT-systems, changes in design, content, or workflow are time-consuming, complicated, and costly. A good reason to leave them alone if not necessary. This has now changed dramatically. The necessity has become quite evident in today’s fast moving market environment. The ability to connect with virtually any information system – using standardized APIs – has made alignment of CCM and consistent CX in the customer journey more viable than ever before.


More engagement, better business

Automated interaction, based on events and accurate customer information, is a powerful way to engage with customers. The big difference is interaction in the moment: real time, instead of afterward or at intervals determined by the company. Based on closely monitored events, notifications can be sent to communicate alternative offers or additional services. Both sides can initiate contact and respond accordingly. This is not limited to opening hours – after all, customer experience is not limited to any time frame. Taking part in the customer journey requires organizations to be relevant and helpful when it counts, in the moment when the interactions happens, the question is asked or the need is expressed. If executed correctly, this will lead to increased loyalty of even believers who promote their incredible experiences to others.

Example 1

HOTELS & HOSPITALITY

Hotel reception

As soon as a guest has made a booking, her specific data, retrieved from the PMS system, can serve as a trigger to connect other systems to check preferences and, if necessary, act on them. The CCM solution can start a communication flow with personalized messages through different channels. This can be email, text, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp etc. In addition, external data sources can be accessed, such as the weather forecast to suggest outdoor or indoor activities. Or to send a gentle reminder to take an umbrella. 



To make the guest’s stay even more enjoyable, a personalized landing page can be created for her to make arrangements when and wherever she wants. When checking in, you can offer extras or upgrades, and the system can ask for any preferences or extra information. The experience is even more enhanced when the data connects to other hotel systems. Think of automatically opening the parking garage gate, based on the guest’s license plate, or triggering a set of notifications when the key card is used to lock or unlock the door. 



After departure, the communication flow stays open to thank the guest, ask for reviews, or promote another stay in the future.

3. Real-time offers a new level in CX

Real-time data processing, together with excellent connectivity, makes it possible to provide highly personalized customer experiences. Instead of bulk handling of email or printed correspondence at set intervals, communication flows can start anytime, triggered by predefined events.

Personalized customer experiences

Whether it is 7 or 70.000, every customer is offered individually relevant information and services, tailored to their preferred system interactions. It’s now easy to integrate CRM systems or other information sources and automate management and delivery of content to the web, mobile devices, and other channels. And what’s more, you can proactively act on future circumstances. It all adds up to a remarkable experience that is sure to delight your customer. 


Building blocks of a next-level experience

Personalized customer experience is based on four building blocks of new CCM solutions.


Integration

Great integration with existing information systems is what makes new CCM solutions successful. Whether it is legacy or homegrown, there’s no need to migrate or change anything in the technology stack. Standardized APIs make it possible to unlock the data in the required systems.



Automation

The way to interact accurately and at scale is to automate all necessary interventions by using automated workflows. The possibility to design and implement workflows is almost infinite. This leaves the options up to the creativity and imagination of the teams that work with it.



Communication

Relevant communication with individual customers the way they want, creates experiences that exceed expectations. Communication features include design, management, and delivery of physical and online content formats such as secure email, text messages, social media apps, web portals, automated phone calls (IVR), and standard mail.



Real-time
Real-time data processing extends customer communication from one-sided bulk to two-way individual communication that happens ‘in the moment’. For instance, when checking a personalized landing page or clicking on options in a webshop.

Example 2

AIRLINES

Travelers want accurate and timely information, whether it is good or bad news. Based on data in their systems, airlines know if the passenger’s luggage is on board or not. If this went wrong, it is now easy to send a message to each passenger where this went wrong when these systems are integrated. 


For instance, the CCM system can inform the passenger that it’s no use to keep waiting at the luggage belt and immediately makes arrangements online to send the luggage to the correct destination. This is handled by offering a personal landing page that sends the required data straight into the systems. 


More common notifications can also be sent, containing flight information, changes in gates, or arrival information that can complement other data such as the weather forecast.

4. Low code omnichannel customer communications

Low code refers to the development of software applications without the need for hand-coded programming by highly skilled developers. This is achieved by using graphic user interfaces (GUI’s) and ‘drag and drop’ features that perform the user’s coding. Low code was introduced to bridge the gap between the growing demand for software applications and developers’ shortage. It allows business managers, after a short training, to quickly create and implement working applications and flows.

Omnichannel customer communication

Consumers, as well as B2B customers, are using more communication channels than ever before. However, they tend to respond differently to different media, depending on the context. Some don’t respond to email but quickly react to WhatsApp or a text message. Others prefer hard copy or want online options in which they can browse. The omnichannel features of CCM solutions provide seamless integration with multiple channels, whether Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, email, or a printed letter, and give the customers the option to choose the medium where they are most comfortable with.


No more queuing up at IT

One of the biggest frustrations for business users and IT organizations is the lack of resources to perform changes whenever needed. IT can’t respond to every request immediately. Still, the perspective of waiting for months often results in the business side just giving up or creating workarounds that clutter up the customer experience. Low code provides business users with tools to implement changes safely and perform tests themselves.


Fast time to market

Recent research shows that digitization and innovation are the two top business priorities in different industries. The main goal is to achieve more agility to respond to fast-changing markets. Low code omnichannel customer communication contributes to that and, at the same time, supports customer intimacy as the strategy of choice for most businesses. Breaking through the barriers of legacy systems and limited capacity, it offers fast time to market customer experience innovations.

Example 3

CREDIT MANAGEMENT

With a debtor portal, it’s easy to integrate connections to underlying systems to show relevant data to the debtor. It also enables the debtor to arrange his affairs online directly, from a dispute regarding an invoice, an automated closing of payment arrangements to an apply for credit or a digital payment. The necessary communication to support this is simple to set up.

With a debtor portal, it’s easy to integrate connections to underlying systems to show relevant data to the debtor. It also enables the debtor to arrange his affairs online directly, from a dispute regarding an invoice, an automated closing of payment arrangements to an apply for credit or a digital payment. The necessary communication to support this is simple to set up.

A debtor portal also enables history-based interventions. If, for example, a debtor previously paid after receiving a text message, the system knows text messages are the best channel for this particular person. The next time this debtor will receive a bill, this will be by text message including a payment link. New generation CCM also connects to CRM systems to quickly access or input customer data. Besides content and timing, the CCM platform can handle the document and invoice designs.

5. Rethinking customer experience and CCM

Technology has now evolved to overcome the organisational and IT hurdles for creating the best possible customer experience. Real-time data processing from any system, automated workflows, and omnichannel communication offers an gamut of new possibilities. Every business can now exceed the conventional and standard batch oriented customer communication by enabling a personalized experience for every customer. This is a big incentive for businesses in every industry to rethink their customer experience and customer communication. And that is crucial for one of the biggest differentiators in this age for businesses of any size.


Access new possibilities

The ongoing digitization causes virtually every industry to face the risk of being disrupted. This leaves businesses little choice but to join and stay ahead, or to fall behind. Because of this, customers are getting used to new standards much faster. They even expect innovation that will lead to more convenience and added value for them. Word-of-mouth, amplified by social media and online fora, is trusted more than one-sided promotion from brands or businesses. Customer experience is the norm to be measured by. The good news is that CCM technology has matured and made exceptional service and good customer experience available to businesses of every size. 


More to explore

New generation CCM solutions offer integration, automation, communication, and real-time processing. Integrating these four building blocks into your business environment will lead to more game-changing applications than the examples mentioned in this paper. Complex and time-consuming change projects no longer restrict the possibilities to improve customer-facing processes. Next-level customer experience is now mainly limited by your imagination. 


Example 4

HOUSING COOPERATIVE

Housing cooperatives need to communicate frequently to many tenants about a great variety of housing matters. Traditionally done by hard copy documents that take time to create, produce, and distribute. 


Using a CCM solution, the full potential of online communication is used. A personal customer portal can be assigned to each tenant, containing information and access to workflows that initiate the cooperative’s accurate follow-up. Each portal is connected to several systems, such as CRM, planning, credit management, etc. 


For instance, when a plumber is needed, the tenant can apply for one online, freeing up the call center at peak hours. The tenant can make preferences regarding the time and date, and the system takes care of planning and confirmation, using access to all data required. Shortly before the visit, a message is sent to check if the tenant will be home. If not, a new appointment is scheduled. When the plumber is on his way, a notification is sent to the tenant.

Achieving the next level in customer experience is more accessible than ever before. Read all about new possibilities offered by real-time data processing, automated workflows, and omnichannel communication.


Customer experience is the big differentiator for businesses of any size. Every business can now exceed the conventional batch oriented customer communication by enabling a personalized experience for every customer. Missed the latest developments? This paper will bring you up to speed.