Wednesday, 25 March 2015 15:44

Technology ‘inhibits’ customer engagement & management


Many Australian companies claim their ability to engage better with customers is being held back by technology.

In a research report from Salmat, almost two-thirds of customer experience managers – or 63% - felt technology is one of the biggest inhibitors for customer management.

And, 25% pointed to multi-channel communication as their biggest challenge.

According to Scott McMillan, General Manager for Business Consulting at Salmat, the findings show organisations are too quick in adopting the newest technology without creating a strategy and vision for what they want their customer experience to look like and how best to achieve it.

“We all know delivering the right experience for your customers is the most powerful differentiator an organisation can possess. But clearly there’re still major obstacles that are occurring within organisations, and it’s the c-suit (the CEO in particular) who need to take control.

“Improving customer experience can’t be achieved by chance; business objectives, commercial data and a clear strategy need to be created to effectively deliver a meaningful experience. As an industry we are too focused on the micro and are forgetting to think about the bigger picture. We know the best way to improve loyalty is to focus on making it easier for your customer to engage with your brand and remove unnecessary obstacles.

“But what organisations forget is the business side – their staff – who need to use those systems; inefficient processes and systems cut productivity, encourage burn & churn and will certainly impact your customer’s experience.”

Scott cites a report from Ventana Research which found 49% of organisations struggle to integrate the systems required to support the customer experience, while 47% have multiple channels of communication, but manage them as individual systems.

But, Scott says a simple solution to creating a more homogenous customer experience is to switch to a completely integrated contact centre system and take advantage of the cloud.

“A centralised single view for the customer, regardless of the channel they use, streamlines the process and provides a seamless, low effort experience.

“Modern systems allow organisations to turn various channel capabilities on and off depending on which they are using and integrates all customer conversations into a central source.

“Your contact centre has the potential to be a cost-effective way to connect with your customers and stimulate loyalty but, to reach this potential, organisations need to make sure their staff are trained to deal with today’s complex multi-channel customer interactions.”

And, Scott says this means putting three simple things in place.

“You need the right technology to empower your executives to deliver a seamless customer experience, coaching and training programs to ensure your team has the skills to deal with complex situations and employee engagement programs to keep staff motivated.”

Key takeaways from the Salmat research:

1. Technology alone will not deliver a competitive advantage: use it in the right way to enhance your customer experience

2. Integration is key: a single customer view across multiple channels allows for a smoother customer journey

3. Don’t underestimate the power of a skilled and motivated workforce: implement training and engagement programs

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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