Customer communication is a fundamental part of holistic customer experience management (CEM). Traditionally, the goal of CEM programs has been to turn customers into loyal brand advocates by ensuring a positive experience with the product or service. But true CEM programs are also driven by the desire to give customers the best possible experience communicating with their providers.

Quality communications goes beyond just listening to the customer’s voice -- companies must also respond to it: identifying what must change and aligning metrics to meet these new standards. And for this to happen, firms must adopt new attitudes and technologies across the enterprise that put customer experience at the forefront of every piece of communication. From customer service to document management, all departments need to be unified in their approach, knowledgeable about previous customer interactions and responsive to customer preferences.

Customer Expectations Are Not Being Met

But are service providers actually achieving this? A recent survey polled more than 6,000 consumers in the United States to solicit feedback on how well their service providers communicate with customers. The results showed that companies still have quite a way to go before their communications programs meet client expectations.

Customers today are savvier than ever. They use a variety of technologies daily, understand that these same tools are available to companies and want to be able to use these tools to communicate with their service providers. 51% of respondents said that it is important for their service providers to offer and use a wide variety of communications channels outside of traditional paper mail, including email, SMS and mobile applications.

Unfortunately, it seems service providers have not caught up with customer demand. According to the research, only 31% of respondents have ever had a provider ask how they would like to receive communications, and only 16% have ever had a provider ask how frequently they would like to receive communications.

It also seems that service providers are not getting the basics of good customer communication right. The numbers show they don’t make enough effort to recognize customers as individuals, nor do they demonstrate any level of familiarity with the customer’s account or previous interactions with the company. 51% of respondents said that the marketing materials they receive are not personalized for them, and 52% agreed they would have a better opinion of their service providers if those providers showed better awareness of matters relating to their accounts.

Communications Are Key to Customer Experience

Customer communications can’t be run in a vacuum. They need to be integrated into the entire customer experience management cycle, prioritized across the business and recognized as a critical component to building and maintaining customer loyalty. Executives need to understand that the way their company communicates clearly demonstrates how much (or how little) they care about their customers. By listening to their customers’ preferences, encouraging customization and deploying solutions that manage cross-department and cross-channel communication, service providers can deliver a truly personalized customer experience that is sure to build that often elusive customer loyalty.

To see the full survey results, please visit www.disconnectedcustomer.com.

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