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The Heady Trip of Customer Experience

Making it Competitive

There are others, such as Verint, that view the customer experience from a “competitive advantage” viewpoint. (I don’t mean to single out Verint on this—the fiercely competitive nature of business is at the core of most of these articles.)

They write: “Knowledge management is key to exceptional service across the enterprise. When organizations prioritize and create customer-centric cultures, the ‘everyone serves’ mantra can be quite powerful. Competition can be fierce, which is why high-quality experiences, customer engagement and employee empowerment are so important in sales and service delivery.

“It’s where putting the best tools and resources in the hands of skilled practitioners can make a significant impact. This is analogous to the role of knowledge in today’s customer-centric organization—it’s an essential ingredient.

“Take knowledge management. Organizations are leveraging knowledge management tools to unite information and experiences to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. Those that do this exceptionally well—‘seriously smart organizations’—are even better positioned to deliver on their key customer and employee directives: know me, understand me, value me and empower me.

“Help employees and customers navigate change and rapidly pivot to address new requirements, such as process changes, new products, compliance mandates and new channels through the introduction of new knowledge across the enterprise and customer base. Change is disruptive to employees and customers alike; knowledge can counter fear, uncertainty and defection.”

I had always thought of the “FUD” acronym as standing for “fear, uncertainty and doubt.” But this is good, too. Because customer defection is an expensive proposition. Once you’ve driven away a good customer through some bonehead interaction, you will NEVER get them back. And most likely, they’ll be on the chat boards and social media the next day to tell everyone else to avoid you. So one bad experience can easily have a ripple effect throughout your customer base.

That’s the point that RightAnswers likes to emphasize. They’re probably the most “knowledge-managementy” participant in this white paper (although they all have a foot in the barrel).

Here’s how they put it: “You need a sophisticated tool that can incorporate new, proven thinking and processes. But that is only part of the equation. When undertaking any process with variable steps and many people, success requires a systematic way of working and tying all the pieces together. Through a structured, repeatable process, you can apply the same approach each time. You know which tasks are required, when to perform them and how to complete them. And a standard approach can be measured, which allows for continual improvement.

“Knowledge-centered support (KCS) is a proven methodology and set of practices for consistently capturing information in a way that allows it to be useful and dynamic to suit the rapidly changing environment of customer support. The way I see it in practice is that KCS maximizes the ability of knowledge management to drive the customer experience.

KCS principles maintain that the best people to create the knowledge are the ones who use it every day: the agents. According to the Consortium for Service Innovation, the organization that developed KCS, when agents are responsible for creating the knowledge, they will quickly capture 70%-80% of what’s known, versus capturing only 20% when done by others. After all, possessing the knowledge that can successfully answer customer questions is vital to providing a great experience.”

That makes sense. There remains the issue of how, exactly to capture that knowledge into a KB. Is it manual? (not likely to be successful). Is it automated? (very complicated and strewn with false positives). Is it NLP- and AI-based? (getting there, but still under-engineered). Like I said at the top, there are a lot of moving parts in this CEM thing.

The Give and Take

The act of customer interaction is not a one-way street. As OpenText points out, the company (you) and the customer (them) share a responsibility. That will not sit lightly with some of the more “empowered” customers,” but it is true.

Within every customer transaction there is give and take. The company (still you) has to provide the correct and relevant information. But the customer (still them) has a part, too, to provide enough feedback and personal information to lead to the best resolution. It don’t come free, folks. As OpenText writes, “Today’s customers are empowered buyers. They have information at their fingertips to check prices, read product reviews and ask peers for advice. They demand more from the brands they love. No longer confined by time and location, brand experiences must be immediate, relevant and seamless across all channels. Exceptional customer experience is the key differentiator that will deliver competitive advantage now and into the future.

“By 2020, organizations that deliver exceptional digital experiences will have a competitive advantage. To get there, enterprises must digitize the entire customer journey—from initial interest to purchase and support. They also need to extract value from customer information, optimize and personalize the delivery of this information, and manage it securely. In a customer-centric era, brands must deliver compelling experiences created through the contextual understanding of their customers, while adhering to established information governance policies and standards.

“Mobile shoppers present a huge opportunity for marketers to support the complete customer journey. From consumers comparing prices and making purchases on their handheld devices, to rating their experiences and joining an online community to share reviews, mobile commerce is empowering customers and providing the enterprise with new ways to engage with their audiences.”

The power that today’s consumers hold is immense, and for many companies, represents great risk. As I said earlier, it only takes one bad experience to turn a disgruntled customer into a full-blown explosion of dislike. And, as I also said earlier, you’re very unlikely to get them back.

Well, that’s a kind of review of what caught my attention from the following articles. I’m pretty sure you’ll get a similar collection of memories from these articles. What I want to leave as a take-away is the deep collection of solutions available, and the incredibly complex matter of treating customers with respect, attention and immediate service. It can be done, and should be done. Do it now.

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