With a rise in social media communications, the goal posts of customer engagement have forever shifted, demanding a more instant and personal approach from brands. Traversing each channel of communication can be a minefield, with each one requiring its own style and speed of response. At the same time, customers are becoming increasingly savvy to alternate ways to reach a brand and this has changed the expectations of customer experience. In this piece, InMoment investigates the current state of play for brands in the multichannel communication sphere and explores how they can find the balance in their own CX approaches.
Whether it be responding to a customer complaint or a more general enquiry, the multichannel approach is bringing the consumer into ever closer contact with a business. As a result, brands need to evolve their CX approach to ensure they can continue to meet the expectations of customers who demand a 24/7 response – those businesses that do this will thrive. This means a CX programme needs to take into consideration bricks and mortar retailing, online operations, mobile interfaces, social platforms and beyond.
While each channel is distinct they should not be looked at as siloed avenues – with the technology now available, brands can build an open response model, allowing them to successfully bring their CX strategy into alignment with the multiple channels available for communication.
What is key for businesses is to invest in technology that enhances the customer experience. InMoment’s latest CX Trends Survey, launched in April this year, found that brands often overinvest in technology for the sake of it rather than looking at what will impact the relationship with the consumer. The survey found that the most valuable experiences that involve technology reflect a desire for convenience: self-checkout at a physical store and the ability to give feedback via a mobile device. The fact that customers are so eager to share feedback is golden for brands, since it gives them opportunities to listen and act.
If brands are implementing new technology, they must ensure that it provides value to the customer experience across all channels. One example of a brand using cutting-edge tech to do just that is IKEA. Using augmented reality, they provide customers with a high-tech solution to very practical challenges: virtually seeing what a specific paint colour will look like in context, and seeing how a piece of furniture will fit into a room — both in terms of size and aesthetics. The key to investing in flashy new technology is to ensure they align with your overall brand strategy and follow through to ensure they make a real impact on customers.
Businesses should also see the 24/7 consumer as an opportunity to create new found levels of engagement with their target audience. Brands need to embrace the multichannel approach and renovate any outdated CX models that don’t encompass the nuances of each platform. In the last few months we’ve seen dozens of retailers and hospitality businesses significantly downsize or collapse, such as Toys R Us, Maplin and Prezzo. We’ve seen the ease of purchasing via online retailers and price-competitive grocers being blamed, along with falling behind with vital store updates, however, what many brands are missing is the importance of nailing the customer experience, in a relevant way for all customers across every brand touchpoint.
There are clear pressures for brands, such as increasing operational costs and squeezed budgets, but this is where understanding what is important to customers is paramount. Businesses that create memorable, positive impressions are the ones that will prosper – those that deliver what they promise, consistently across all platforms, and really listen to their customers. Staff interaction cannot be overlooked as it has a huge impact – both good and bad – on the customer experience. Consumers want real connections with staff who are well-trained to educate and inform across all channels. Over 73% of customers reported in InMoment’s survey that staff interaction is key when creating positive experiences – and a further 61% said poor staff attitude, lack of knowledge and slow or unhelpful service contributed to a negative memorable experience. Brands should look for ways to reduce customer pain points, increase frequency of opportunities to delight, and measure the change, and this must happen wherever a customer interacts with a brand.
One of the key opportunities for brands is to implement always-on listening, plugging in CX feedback technology into all channels to ensure customer feedback is being consistently collected, analysed and acted upon. AI will be key, opening up barriers to communication and empowering CX professionals by arming them with relevant and timely data. Brands that embrace this technology, listen to customers consistently and – most importantly – make operational changes based on this data will keep the 24/7 customer on side.
By Simon Fraser, senior director for customer experience strategy at InMoment
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