For me, the turning point in the evolution from customer service to customer experience came in the early 2000s when the internet, mobility, and connectivity converged.
People wanted to access the internet through their devices, a fact we take for granted today. Moreover, they didn’t simply want service when things went wrong - they expected service providers to proactively engage with them, anticipate their needs, and invest in long-term relationships with them.
This shift took telecommunications companies from solving problems post-purchase (i.e., customer service) to delivering a buying journey that is as frictionless and as personalised as possible. At the same time, customer self-service took off. In today’s market, of course, it’s imperative for companies to empower customers to resolve issues on their own.
Customer support remains an essential component, but now it’s just one piece of the puzzle as brands interact with customers throughout the lifecycle. Meanwhile, communications service providers have had to differentiate their brands by responding to shifting customer priorities.
By 2007, when Apple released the iPhone, connectivity had become a given, and people flocked to providers that could give them the devices they wanted. Later, the focus shifted to apps, and customers prioritised service providers that offered the applications they wanted.
Today, the playing field for devices, connectivity, and apps is level. The price war has subsided. The battle is fought on the experience front, where customers make decisions based on which provider makes the effort to learn about their preferences, respect their time, and personalise their experiences based on context and situation.
Customers have more power than ever. Digital natives represent a lucrative consumer segment that values experience above all else. In 2022, communications service providers must adapt their business models to customer expectations by putting CX front and centre.
Customer experience is the key to unlocking revenue growth
You may think, “My customers aren’t going to turn off their services. Why should we care about how they feel about our brand?”
The stark reality is that brands that don’t differentiate themselves to gain market share and create additional revenue opportunities risk being left behind.
Forward-thinking, innovative service providers are basing their strategies on the premise that digital CX is the primary revenue driver in today’s market. But digital CX isn’t just about delivering services online. It must start with a holistic view of the customer journey – encompassing multiple channels and touchpoints that connect with each other seamlessly to meet each customer’s needs.
Personalised experience is the differentiator to attracting and retaining more customers. Not only are repeat customers more profitable, but in today’s fiercely competitive market, brands must bring rivals’ customers to their side to drive revenue growth – and CX is the bridge that makes this happen.
Not to mention, happy customers are more likely to buy value-add services from you. Personalised recommendations, a key component of CX, allow you to effectively promote relevant offers that your customers will want to purchase.
How communications service providers can improve their customer experience
Companies must create a dynamic, streamlined customer journey with personalised, contextual, and omnichannel engagement. Here are four critical steps:
- Create 360-degree customer profiles by consolidating data from multiple systems to understand customer preferences, purchasing behaviours, demographic information, etc.
- Connect all the business processes that use customer data, including product catalogue, order capture, billing, and customer engagement channels, to break down silos
- Deploy artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to sift through large amounts of data and identify critical moments to deliver impactful experiences
- Implement technologies and platforms to personalise the customer journey based on real-time interactions with your brand
You need an IT infrastructure that can support systems and AI technologies to predict customer intent and provide the insights that unlock the most relevant services, promotions and product recommendations.
The lasting principle that drives CX
CX is a fast-evolving practice. For instance, AI and machine learning technology will accelerate companies’abilities to predict customer intent and proactively resolve issues while enhancing personalisation to deliver meaningful interactions.
But at the core of the discipline is the idea that we should treat people the way we want to be treated. Business success isn’t about bright shiny objects. Brands must invest in building trust and long-term relationships to keep customers coming back and buying more.
No matter where technology takes us, companies must deliver the experience their customers expect to succeed now and in the future.
An edited version of this article originally appeared on The Fast Mode.
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