2012 CRM Technology Trends: How to make the most of each customer interaction

As seen on Call Center Clinic.

A lot has been said about the importance of customer experience for improving customer retention, satisfaction and boosting sales. But, when we asked researchers to explore the views of UK consumers and business decision makers on customer service at the end of last year, we found a significant gap between what businesses are offering and what consumers actually need.

While almost half of the surveyed organisations claimed to offer personalised services, only 4% of consumers said they felt they were treated as individuals when contacting their service providers and a mere 2% of them trusted the advice they were given.

The results also revealed that more than two thirds of organisations could not deliver a consistent customer experience across all communication channels and did not have the needed technology to provide personalised customer experience.

At a time when consumers expect to be treated as individuals, businesses seem to be struggling to offer the level of personalisation that meets their needs. Furthermore, as enterprises are failing to make the most of each customer interaction, they are missing out on plenty of revenue opportunities and gradually losing competitive edge.  

So how can organisations close this gap and gain competitive advantage in the challenging contest for consumers’ attention and loyalty? 

Here is a list of the top 5 technology trends that can help organisations step ahead of their competitors and strengthen the relationship with their customers in 2012.
 
Align business objectives with frontline activities

As organisations are increasingly looking to optimise customer interactions, there will be a stronger focus on consolidating and linking back office IT processes that have historically belonged to separate business siloes. Marketing, sales, customer service and client on-boarding will be increasingly fused into a seamless integrated IT system aimed at maximising each customer interaction. This will enable frontline office workers to better enact on each customer’s behalf to fulfil customer demands and improve customer experience. Businesses that are able to achieve such IT agility will be able to step ahead of their competitors.
 
Always put the customer at the centre

There is a very exciting trend towards involving the customer in every stage of the product and service development process. By listening to and using customers’ feedback for the development of products and services that specifically correspond to their needs, organisations will be able to achieve strong competitive edge. Real innovators in customer services will be the organisations that put the customer at the centre of everything they do and focus on making the customer experience intuitive, informative and invaluable at every touch point. This also means enabling customers to participate in the creation of customer service processes and even products that fully correspond to their needs. Such an approach will enable businesses to create a unique customer buying experience rather than a one size fits all sales experience for every customer and will put them at the forefront of product innovation and market leadership.
 
Ensure seamless multichannel communication

In 2012, we will see a stronger focus on multichannel communication. As customers are seamlessly moving from social, mobile, through web self-service, phone, chat, text mobile and email, organisations will need to ensure that they are able to capture all customer interactions and make the most of them. Achieving consistency across all communication channels by applying exactly the same business logic and effectively using the accumulated customer data to speed up the resolution of each customer interaction will be a key differentiator of successful businesses. Being able to make one change in one place that is reflected across all customer channels will result in huge IT savings and will increase business agility beyond most organisational thinking.
 
Don’t forget that personalisation is the key to success

As businesses are under pressure to stand out from their competitors and maintain customer loyalty, the personalisation of their products and services will be a decisive factor for minimising churn and ensuring customer satisfaction. However, to achieve that, organisations will need to adopt agile IT systems powered by analytics and real-time decision management that anticipate customer needs. Marketing solutions need to analyse the customers to determine product attraction rather than simply match a product to a customer segment. This will enable organisations to proactively make personalised offers that perfectly match their needs.
 
Make the most of social media

As more customers are using social media to share their ideas and experiences with other users and companies, businesses will need to achieve flexibility that enables them to interpret social information in order to make changes at the speed customers are demanding. In addition, ambitious companies will monitor social data to determine what their competitors are doing in terms of offers or services. To achieve that, companies will have to weave social media into their customer relationship strategies and tap into the huge potential of social networking for strong personalisation of customer service and real one-to-one marketing.

John Everhard, technical director, Pegasystems Europe, has overall responsibility for pre-sales support and is the company’s senior technology architect and ‘evangelist’.  He joined Pegasystems in 1995 as systems implementation manager, setting up both the technical consulting team and internal customer support helpdesk, before moving to his present role four years later.  His early career included operations analysis in Texaco’s IT department, US Bank Manufactureres’ Hanover Trust as a systems architect and systems programmer and four years as a senior member of Computer Associates’ systems software field engineering teams.  More recently, John worked as an independent consultant in the UK and North America helping business clients understand the value of IT and educating them in effective methods of communication with their IT teams, before joining Compuware as training manager.  His passion is bringing businesses and IT together and he is a regular speaker and contributor of articles on BPM through the application of technology.