Recently, Salesforce research illustrated the importance of a connected customer experience, as 70% of survey respondents claimed factors such as seamless handoffs are a critical part of winning their business. This should come as no surprise to businesses. For retailers and other consumer-facing companies, recent history is littered with horror stories about the financial and reputational risks that can follow even a slight experiential misstep. Likewise, most customer relations success stories start with a company providing a personalized customer experience.
The point is simple: Saying and doing are two different things when it comes to service consistency — and companies that walk the walk inherently use the right technology tools to create experiences that matter to customers. Here's a look at how personalized service and technology both apply in the day-to-day business world.
1. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)
UCaaS is essential to the connected experience (hence its prominent spot atop this list). With its ability to build advanced communication features directly into the apps and services customers use, UCaaS provides the seamless, on-demand experience customers are looking for. Consider the following use cases, all of which UCaaS makes easier by removing the need to build complex communication tools on the backend:
- Click-to-call buttons in customer-facing apps
- Integrated cloud contact center solutions (including phone, email, chat, and more), alongside integration with leading CRM tools — making communication and service experiences seamless
- Ability to build text-based communications from several sources — SMS, chat, social media, and more — into existing company apps
Features like these, which are just a small sample of what UCaaS can do, can personalize and add consistency to customer relations. A system that combines a customer's text- and social media-based messaging into a single point of contact via CRM, for instance, is even stronger. A platform that puts multiple communication channels into one place, then makes them adaptable to the individual company's needs? That's the power of UCaaS.
A company wishing to provide innovative apps, features, and services can take advantage of APIs.
2. Artificial Intelligence
Long ago, the technology that passed for AI on incoming customer calls was more irritating than helpful for customers. Today, the technology — used via text chatbots or natural-language voice — can carry out many tasks, making it easier to enhance positive experiences (sales) and defuse potentially negative ones.
This falls right in line with Salesforce's finding that 84% of customers expect to be treated like a person, not a number. Consider the difference:
- A customer who recently made a big-ticket purchase calls in and immediately begins grappling with an antiquated IVR. It offers self-service options that aren't relevant and features an infuriating number of dead ends — no way to go back to the previous menu, and no way to get in touch with a human rep.
- A customer calls in and the system, registering a recent big purchase, asks if they need support. The customer says yes, so the system asks if it may offer troubleshooting steps. When the customer says yes, it walks them through tips that solve part of the issue, then forwards them to a live rep (who became free throughout the troubleshooting process) to finish up.
Comparing the two, it's clear which is preferable.
3. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
Salesforce's report that 56% of customers primarily wish to buy from the "most innovative companies" speaks to the power of APIs. This technology carries capabilities that matter to every customer, from those who want innovation to those searching for other qualities.
As with UCaaS — a technology built primarily on the power of APIs — the average application programming interface is designed to help businesses integrate features that would otherwise be too difficult or expensive. In a communications context, a company that wants to add a video support option to its customer support app would use an API or build most of its video conference solutions from the ground up.
To this end, a company wishing to provide innovative apps, features, and services can take advantage of APIs. They provide advanced privacy features like two-factor authentication, record and post the location of incoming calls for marketing analysis purposes, or confirm appointment times and dates. With APIs, businesses provide personalized, streamlined customer service while improving internal productivity.
Where Are Your Customer Relations Headed?
Providing a seamless customer experience is harder than ever. Rising stakes and escalating customer expectations contribute to a new class of must-have technologies. To thrive, organizations should approach the new landscape with smart tools at their sides — or prepare to lose business to those that do.