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Why CIOs need to double down on customer experience innovation in 2021

Why CIOs need to double down on customer experience innovation in 2021

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In today’s day and age, business leaders must be aware of how to improve the customer experience and understand customer requirements in order to improve their experience and boost operational efficiencies across the board. Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO and Co-founder at Content Guru, says CIOs need to use data to drive enhanced collaboration across the enterprise in order to exceed customer expectations and stay one step ahead of the demand.

The survival mindset triggered by the pandemic has pushed CIOs into new ways of thinking that will provide a springboard for future innovation across all industries. If nothing else, the events of the past year have shown how it takes a genuinely profound external disruption to facilitate the concrete internal disruption that can fuel radical change on multiple fronts.

A recent survey of business leaders by McKinsey reveals the extent to which the impact of COVID-19 has stimulated a rapid and massive shift to interacting with customers through digital channels. So much so that three-times as many industry leaders state that at least 80% of their customer interactions are now digital in nature.

The consequences of this dramatic change go far beyond the immediate practicalities of delivering enhanced services and experiences to customers in the here and now. The past 12 months has forced companies to redefine their DNA in pursuit of the agility and authenticity that will be key to thriving in a rapidly changing world.

When combined with the fundamentally different cultural mindset that continues to prevail as organisations navigate the route to post-pandemic recovery, this is creating the foundation and roadmap for further dramatic innovations in the coming years.

The question now, is: how can organisations maximise this opportunity?

Customer experience in the digital age

Customer experience (CX) has been steadily rising up the corporate agenda in recent years and with good reason. High-performing companies that consistently outperform their peers do so because they put customer-centricity at the heart of everything that they do.

Online retail giants have set the standard where CX is concerned. Indeed, it’s true to say that they have helped redefine what CX looks like in the mind of the consumer. Offering speed, choice, convenience and accessibility has proved a winning combination for the company, which continues to push the boundaries when it comes to creating frictionless experiences built around the identified wants and needs of individual customers.

One thing is for sure; the COVID-19 pandemic has had a lasting impact on consumer behaviours, with online interactions and digital messaging channels now firmly established as a top customer preference. As a result, brands are now being judged on how many touchpoints they offer, how easy it is to move between touchpoints, the time it takes to resolve issues and how personalised each interaction is. In other words, today’s discerning customers are turning against business that fail to meet the challenge of delivering digitally and anticipating their needs.

As a result, the contact centre is fast becoming a multi-channel CX engagement and management hub whose performance has a direct impact on future transactions and the long-term loyalty of customers.

With technologies like chatbots and Machine Learning being deployed to drive CX within the contact centre, CIOs need to be leading the fray where digital CX is concerned. Streamlining the CRM and omnichannel processes that underpin delivery of a joined-up response to customers across every channel touchpoint is just the start.

To exceed customer expectations and stay one step ahead of evolving market demands, CIOs need to ensure that they can collect and connect customer data to drive enhanced collaboration across the enterprise. Data is now the fundamental building block that generates the intelligence business leaders need to identify what’s on the horizon – and enhance the organisation’s ability to personalise delivery at the speed of the customer.

Enabling agile CX

The recent experience of combatting challenges on every front has ignited a real desire among business leaders to move away from the reactive approaches of the past and keep a finger on the pulse of evolving customer preferences.

With customer loyalty and lifetime value now dependent on never missing the signals that indicate something has gone amiss for individual customers, the deployment of technologies like natural language processing (NLP) will be key to proactively identifying which problems customers most frequently find troublesome.

By using these technologies to aggregate data from customer calls, organisations are able to both improve the customer experience and boost operational efficiency at the same time. Preparing for what is around the corner is no easy task, but businesses that are able to utilise root-cause investigations and data trends analysis will be able to pinpoint what has to change to reduce customer frustrations and which needs matter the most to customers.

Armed with these insights, organisations are able to initiate preventative customer engagement strategies that boost customer satisfaction and loyalty – whether that’s addressing the issues that frequently prevent customers from logging into their accounts or making it easy for customers to reschedule deliveries at the last minute.

Optimising returns from every CX investment

To deliver maximum bang for every buck spent on CX technologies that are deployed across the organisation, CIOs will need to have a macro view of the capabilities that are needed at every step of the customer journey – marketing, sales and service – ensuring that the right content and interfaces are available at every touchpoint and that these are integrated to deliver a truly cohesive CX. That includes having a clear roadmap of how to manage data so the enterprise can fulfil its need for powering future innovation.

At the end of the day, initiating the right digital CX experiences and becoming a truly customer-centric organisation depends on breaking down technology silos, automating the orchestration of workflows so staff can respond to customer requests quickly and accurately, leveraging data to deliver personalised experiences and streamlined customer journeys, and making it easy for customers to transition seamlessly between channels.

Finally, CIOs will also need to hone-in on generating intelligence from the data that is held in systems across the enterprise to uncover new ways to delight customers and understand their evolving expectations.

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