As many business leaders know, customer demands are never stagnant, they fluctuate quite regularly and at times can be unpredictable. Further, for the IT professional, the demands of internal stakeholders can come at a rapid pace, and often times a need for today might not translate into the same set of requirements tomorrow.
Scalability, in a general sense, provides an opportunity for you to grow your technology back-end as the needs of customers and internal stakeholders evolve. It means making adjustments within your business model to consistently meet the needs of your customers and create a favorable business future. With a promising effect on overall business success, scalability should be a feature that is top of mind when considering any technology solution, especially a Customer Experience Management (CEM) one.
In order to help you adopt omni-channel best practices and select the right CEM solution, we’re taking a deeper look at scalability and how it can fulfill your business needs and IT requirements long-term.
The Preference For More Channels Is Growing
Today, most companies are focused on SMS texting as the newest channel on which to engage customers, even though messaging has emerged as the new and riveting customer preference. To many, providing only texting is a trend of the past. Trends show that long-term, consumers want options and convenience when it comes to connecting with your business, so it’s it is wise to keep this in mind.
With the growth of social media and smartphone usage, the speed at which channels are being adopted by customers to communicate with companies, and each other, has accelerated immensely. In fact, on social media alone, there are approximately 2 billion Internet users and the figures are still expected to grow as mobile device usage and mobile social networks increasingly gain traction.
In addition to social media, over the top (OTT) messaging apps like Line, WhatsApp, and WeChat have also become the leading preferred channels for customers to communicate via their mobile devices. Toggling between these platforms, along with social, customers are confidently channel hopping on a regular basis. In fact, it’s been reported that “consumers use an average of almost six touchpoints to connect with a brand – with nearly 50% regularly using more than four”.
With that said, it’s not hard to recognize that the demand for multiple channels and the return for increasing customer engagement on each of them is promising. Yet, 55% of companies still have no cross-channel strategy in place to manage this. This means that what you are focused on implementing today will most likely evolve quickly into a new set of needs to stay current.
Start With Your Road Map
The road to having an omni-channel experience in place does not happen overnight. It is a journey that requires audience research, a vision or goal, and the adoption of some critical tools.
As with any business undertaking, when you begin, it’s time to do some research on customer needs, your IT teams bandwidth, and ease of integration. For your customers, you can do this by surveying or simply researching them along with your target demographic. Consider, the journey and the different points along it where you want to measure the experience. By doing some investigative research you can determine the most used messaging platforms of your demographic and adjust it accordingly.
It is also crucial to consider team bandwidth and ease of integration because even though your customers might prefer 7 social platforms, it might not be realistic for your team to manage or integrate. We suggest creating a master list, where you can prioritize each platform based on ease of execution and any customer preferences you already know of, then organize them into realistic timelines. Creating this list will help you further support your omni-channel use case and aid in the creation of a fortified goal to further educate your internal stakeholders on what they need to consider in the longer term.
Once you’ve nailed down your research and broadened your knowledge on your respective markets, it’s time to craft a strategic end goal. This will help you obtain optimal results with your omni-channel program and make sure that everything from the channels you adopt to the teams you train remains on the same path to achieve a unified goal. As stated previously, a master list of channels and capabilities available in the optimal scenario is a great way to conceptualize where you want to go with an omni-channel customer experience.
Now that you have a goal and facts on the customer, it’s time to consider technology that can help make the whole process much simpler. For most IT teams, running multiple social channels and routing requests, while completing everyday tasks can be overwhelming. By integrating technology like a Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform that streamlines operations, you don’t have to worry about all the heavy lifting that can come with omni-channel integration.
As a business looking to become more scalable with their omni-channel program, it’s critical to set a goal and have knowledge of the customer to define what is needed from your CEM solution, long-term.
What To Look For In A Scalable CEM Solution.
When deciding on a CEM solution that is scalable, look for one that can support multiple omni-channel capabilities. Your solution should include top platforms like Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and Email. By having some of the most popular platforms you broaden your scope and provide a seamless guest experience across traditional and digital communication avenues at every point of the customer journey.
You should also consider a solution with a consolidated view of all messages. An ideal platform will allow you to interact and respond from one central location – so operations are streamlined and employees aren’t constantly logging in and out of supplier or channel sites. As an IT professional, trying to weave multiple suppliers together with IT infrastructure and service buses, will only come back to haunt you in the long-run. An ideal CEM solution will make work easier for you and your team with one consolidated platform.
In addition, a true CEM solution with omni-channel capabilities can provide you with a plethora of insight on the customer and how you are meeting your business objectives. An ideal platform will be able to pull relevant information and measure customer sentiment from channel conversations – so you can understand customer behavior and adjust conversations accordingly. Better yet, the ability to connect the overall solution to your back-end customer record systems makes it even more of a winner.
Regardless of where you want to start, say adding SMS texting to your business, consider a CEM solution that can do this and so much more. The more channels they can support in terms of your longer omni-channel vision, the better off you will be. It does not mean you need to adopt all of them at once, but it does make the roll-out faster and easier for your IT team down the road.
As an IT leader looking to implement more scalable solutions, choosing technology to support your omni-channel strategy should include a single CEM platform, as opposed to building your own. With the growing number of digital channels your customers will want to engage on, not using a CEM solution that is scalable to help you achieve your future roadmap goals could result in a continuous need to update, change, and re-build your solution, as opposed to simply scaling up with the CEM solution doing the difficult work for you.