How CIOs can make 2018 the year of outstanding customer service
By Sharon Maslyn, VP of Sales UK & EMEA, 8X8
Every role is customer facing. Delivering brilliant customer service is no longer a job just for the customer service team. In fact, it has quickly become apparent that the customer experience is so much of a top priority for businesses that 79% of CIOs believe IT is responsible for improving customer experience (Source: Salesforce’s “State of the IT” report, 2017).
However, businesses are being held back from delivering great service due to fragmented communication and information, inaccessible expertise and lack of insights around customer engagement. If CIOs are willing to compete for today’s digital customers in an age where everything is instant, they need to take the following into account:
Customer expectations & engagement
Customers expectations are at an all time high and this is fuelled by technology. Customers have the ability to openly share their experiences instantly with review websites, app ratings and social media. Rather than seeing this as a negative it can help improve the customer's experience as it allows businesses to inspect customer journeys and track trends to build a wider view of the CX.
Also, as a CIO, you should look closely at how the overall journey can be improved either through self-service assistance or by linking channels together with context (this helps to understand where the customer has been before).
Customer needs come first
One of the errors organisations can easily make is implementing technology for technology’s sake. Businesses should always be focused on their customers’ actual needs and introducing solutions for tangible reasons. It is extremely difficult to evaluate the impact tech will have on the customer experience if you don’t first look at the needs of the customer.
Breaking down silos
Departments working in silos— from sales to marketing to HR—are being held back as they don’t talk to each other. Add a customer to the equation and you have a situation where queries aren’t resolved efficiently and people are passed from one part of a company to another in the hopes of searching for a resolution.
CIOs can lead the charge on bringing all fractured employee engagement systems and customer communications together under one roof. Embracing unified comms means businesses can make sure their employees are even better equipped to do their jobs – and are happier doing so.
This will no doubt support the breakdown of silos, which in turn will lead to a steady flow of customer information between departments, resulting in improved collaboration and driving better business outcomes.
According to Gartner, more than 50% of CIOs will have artificial intelligence as one of their top five investment priorities by 2020. AI will assist greatly when it comes to understanding the customer journey through automation and analytics and can be useful for simple, repetitive queries. However, it is vital to keep in mind that employees are the customer experience and make a brand what it is. Nothing can compare to highly-trained, knowledgeable people with problem solving and negotiation skills, something which can’t be replicated with AI.
Measure and evaluate successes
After you have taken the above steps, record the results and check-in with your customers on improvements. This can be achieved through methods such as surveys or even one-to-one outreach. It’s also worth using analytics to measure business performance and customer satisfaction.
If CIOs take these steps and ensure a cloud engagement solution is in place that brings together all customer and employee interactions under one roof, businesses will be well equipped to provide outstanding customer service this year.
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