Inconsistent Customer Experiences Drive Customers Away
Not longer than a month ago, I wanted to order a mobile phone for a family member in Michigan. I was in San Jose, the high-tech capital, so I went online to the company’s website and placed the order. The phone was to be delivered to the Michigan address with an Ann Arbor area code within three days, but it didn't happen.
On the fourth day, I called the company’s support center to check the status and was told that since I had ordered via the website, I needed to wait a week for the order to get into the call center system. I waited a few more days and called back. A seemingly helpful call center agent was able to locate my order and duly informed me that the order had been canceled because the billing zip code on my credit card didn’t match the area code for the new phone number! It wasn't until I made time to visit a kiosk at the local mall that I was able to get everything resolved.
This type of service (or lack thereof) does not sit well with customers today. Customers have a choice and a voice, and the voice is amplified many folds with social media. What today’s consumers demand (or what I would have liked) is an experience that is consistent across all channels, contextual to their needs and adaptable to their situation.
Customers use multiple channels to interact with a company throughout their relationship with the company.They expect a consistent experience, no matter which interaction channel they choose. Customers don’t want to repeat the information they’ve already provided, and require companies to recall their preferences, and offer relevant products and services.
BPM + Social + Mobile = Engaged Customers
Because so many customer experiences are linked to underlying business processes, Business Process Management (BPM) technology is very well suited to help improve engagement with customers through different lifecycles, whether it is customer sales, support or provisioning.Combine (and integrate) that with the advantages of social and mobile and you can extend the value that was not possible in the past.
Bringing these technologies together lets organizations create customer experiences that are:
No matter what kind of channel of engagement a customer chooses -- email, phone, social, web or retail location, the service must be consistent. Delivering a consistent experience is challenging because of fragmented data, disjointed systems and siloed multichannel interactions. Customers are likely to receive different service quality on the web, phone or at the store. They receive different responses from different service agents or inconsistent answers if they call the sales versus service department, which results in lower customer satisfaction or NPS (net promoter score) numbers.
BPM provides a model-driven environment to design end-to-end customer facing processes. So in my case, the call center agent would have had full visibility into the order I had placed using the online store. Organizations can model customer experience and make sure that a consistent process is followed by all customer facing associates, across all channels and departments.
While interacting with the customer, organizations must make sure that all the existing information about the customer is understood and incorporated while resolving a customer issue or making a promotional offer. There is nothing more annoying than having a customer repeat their issue every time they call in for resolution. Moreover, keep the customer informed. If there is an issue with processing the request, companies need to notify customers proactively. BPM, integrated with predictive analytics and real-time decision management, makes sure that the right information is available at the right time to the agent interacting with the customer.
Most people have smart phones that provide a lot of contextual data.For example, a customer in a car accident can initiate an insurance claim using a mobile phone by simply taking a picture and submitting it via a mobile application. Data like location and time is captured automatically, saving the customer hours on the phone. Making your processes mobile-enabled not only lets your customers interact with you from anywhere, but also provides the right context for interaction, greatly enhancing the customer experience.
Different customers have different needs, making a one-size-fits-all service model no longer acceptable. Organizations need to have the flexibility to serve customers as they expect and not be constrained by system limitations.BPM enables flexibility to make exceptions to processes and rules if special handling of a situation is required. BPM also provides the ability to change processes as the customer’s needs change so that the customer experience can be continuously enhanced.
Customers today are very active on social networks. Organizations cannot ignore the emergence of various social channels as the world has only become more social each and every day.Organizations should listen to these social channels and use the insight to improve the customer experience.
An angry tweet by a dissatisfied customer can be captured, analyzed via sentiment analysis and used to initiate a resolution process. A Facebook post suggesting a new feature can kick off a product enhancement process. BPM provides actionability to insights gained from social media. Integrating social media with your business processes can help you maintain a pulse on your customers’ needs and help improve the customer experience.
With the convergence of social networks, mobile technology and BPM, companies can not only increase process efficiency but also improve customer engagement. Improving engagement means delivering the customer experience the customer expects, and interacting with the customer at the right time using the right channel.
Customers want to be able to contact you via any channel of their choice (web, email, chat, mobile, social media), and purchase via any viable channel (web, phone, store, mobile). Customers expect companies to understand their individual needs and remember their preferences on repeated visits. To deliver an integrated, consistent, and contextual experience companies need BPM system, integrated with social and mobile technologies.
Title image courtesy of Ivelin Radkof (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: To read more on BPM's potential for customer experience in Deb Miller's Winning the Hearts and Minds of Customers Through Case Management