“When you’re in the darkest hour trying to fix a particular problem, it’s persistence that prevails,” said Eric Carrasquilla, SVP of Digital Engagement Solutions at CSG. “But don’t rest on your laurels. When you think you’ve got the customer experience solved and perfect, always seek to improve and view it as a never-ending journey.”
CSG is a sponsor of CMSWire’s Digital Experience Summit fall event, taking place online Oct. 28 and Oct. 29. Eric Carrasquilla will present the keynote session, “Overcoming the Omnichannel Challenge: Empower Employees to Deliver Smarter Digital Interactions with your Customers Through a Unified Customer Experience.”
We spoke with Carrasquilla about how the omnichannel customer experience is an ever-evolving journey.
Omnichannel Challenges and Success Stories
CMSWire: How can companies create a smarter, more unified customer experience with omnichannel?
Carrasquilla: While companies have more ways to connect with customers than they ever imagined, it remains a huge challenge for them to meet the rising standards for digital experiences and win brand loyalty. Companies need better ways to translate digital channels into real business results, like reduced customer churn and increased sales. Companies can truly differentiate their CX by meeting the customer on their preferred channel and interacting with them in real time, with the right message, at the right moment. With the right principles and technologies in place, companies can predict customer needs and deliver real-time contextual experiences. Companies can also use an omnichannel approach to keep customers from “ghosting” their brand.
CMSWire: Have you seen customers respond negatively to omnichannel?
Carrasquilla: Done well, smart notifications deliver high satisfaction at low costs. Done poorly they cause feelings of disconnect and negativity. I was talking to an Uber driver recently about what I do for a living and gave an example of a retail pharmacy chain that used CSG to successfully orchestrate smart notifications for prescription fills and refills. The Uber driver responded by sharing how his particular pharmacy got it wrong by sending continual spam notifications for prescriptions that weren’t even his, while neglecting to send timely notifications about what he needed. They also sent promotional spam he wasn’t interested in. He had to burn time waiting in line to see if his prescription was ready, and then got multiple notifications afterward, when he had already picked it up.
CMSWire: Why do companies still struggle with omnichannel delivery? Are there any common challenges?
Carrasquilla: It’s a great question: Why with all the information available, does personalizing customer interactions in real-time (let alone across channels) seem harder than ever? Simply put, good isn’t enough anymore. Customer expectations keep rising, thanks to the best-in-class experiences they’re getting from today’s leading brands. That has customers asking every other brand they do business with, “Why can’t you do that, too?”
Customers expect to have continuous conversations anytime, anywhere, and they want brands that serve them to anticipate their needs. And expectations keep rising, so even once a brand achieves omnichannel delivery, they need the ability to continually optimize that delivery.
Companies struggle to manage the data and extract the insights that will help them predict customers’ needs and personalize their experiences. It’s difficult for them to know exactly where to start and what will affect their business without a complete picture of the customer journey. What they’re left with is frustration: from a wealth of data, the best organizations can do is cobble together multiple profiles of the same customer that are riddled with gaps.
Lastly, many companies are facing constraints in what they can do to their tech stack to up-level their CX. Organizations have already invested so much into their core backend and communications systems that their budgets can’t sustain another multi-year rip-and-replace project to enable the personalized, cross-channel experiences that customers expect. What’s more, brands can’t sustain additional disruption to their touchpoints that continually serve customers every day. So, for them, the way forward has to be flexible and creative.
It’s Not Just a Customer Experience, It’s a Customer Relationship
CMSWire: What is your advice for companies to really get to know their customers? Have you come across surprising ways of understanding customers?
Carrasquilla: Brands that do this right start with the individual. The basis for truly knowing your customer is having a comprehensive customer profile that unifies all your enterprise-wide data: their preferences, product history, interactions across channels, etc. All that data is typically siloed, however, in different departments and platforms across the organization. Consolidating it to create those profiles requires a strong customer data platform. That customer profile also needs to be updated in real time with incoming data as your customers’ behaviors and circumstances change.
Then look at journeys. I see companies patting themselves on the back for measuring Net Promoter Score, but what does that mean? Customer experiences are a series of interconnected journey steps that have implications across multiple channels. A hiccup in any one of those steps can lead to a perception of a horrible experience and knocking it out of the park of one of them can lead to loyal, fanatical advocates.
Then look at channels. You can have the right answer for where the customer is at in their journey, what they’re trying to do and the best next action to help them achieve it, but if a company is reaching out over the phone and that particular person will not respond to calls because they’ve just received a bunch of spam from telemarketers trying to sell them an extended warranty on their car, we can all see how that experience is going to turn out. Knowing what channels the customer prefers and will respond to is key. While there is no universal standard for CX, there is a way for customers to feel like you know them better than they know themselves at every engagement.
CMSWire: When ghosting happens, what should this tell companies about their relationship with their customers?
Carrasquilla: Today, it doesn’t take much for consumers to abandon a brand. One in three consumers are willing to leave after just one bad experience. But the only reason this feels like ghosting is because the brand doesn’t know why it’s being abandoned, and that’s likely due to challenges the brand is facing in harnessing data and engaging customers in real time.
That’s why leveraging your data through a connected journey experience is crucial. Understanding where and when the communication channels failed, why users feel overwhelmed or lost on their journey to purchase, listening to these sources of feedback and refining your approach to meet customers where they want to be, is the best way to engage with them.
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