Dominique Bastos, SVP, Persistent Systems
At this point, we understand the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of services, and organizations that don’t want to be disrupted are leaning into technology that will facilitate better customer experiences. They must. As companies remove themselves from having in-person conversations and interactions with their customers, they are also removing the ability to make personal connections and experiences that will create customer loyalty. Gone are the days when business owners took the time to get to know their patrons through face-to-face interaction. As businesses are leveraging tech to scale, they are also automating functions that once allowed for the nuances of a customer relationship to be known.
Imagine: The customer subscribes to a weekly meal delivery service. They have just purchased their 20th box and as a result, are now VIP status. It’s a Sunday evening and they are waiting for their box to be delivered, but it never comes, so they decide to inquire with customer service. One way to do this is through the app. They open their app and see their weekly meal plan. One touchpoint. They navigate to the account menu and then to the help chat, two and three. They type their concerns into an AI-powered chatbot and explain their problem before being connected to a support agent. Finally, after several messages back and forth, they are offered a refund. Four, five, and six.
In five minutes, the customer had six digital touchpoints with their meal box brand of choice. These are six unique opportunities to collect data, build customer loyalty, and present an above-and-beyond customer experience. This also allows for six unique opportunities to upset an already frustrated customer if the technology isn’t working.
In my career, I have helped a myriad of businesses migrate their data to the cloud, where that data can be stored and analyzed to build insights from those customers and in turn, improve their success in every area from customer acquisition and retention to product deployment. Great CX is enabled when you activate all the data at hand in a single connected ecosystem.
Things to Think About
Without cloud implementation, excellent customer service is difficult to achieve because of the lack of end-to-end transparency. Using the example above, without the cloud, the six digital touch points mentioned cannot work together. Not only does the meal box provider lose out on real-time customer behavior data but they also lack the visibility to have seamless, personalized customer service. At one point, on-premise data storage was enough to accommodate basic customer service, but today, that model fails to sufficiently satisfy evolved CX expectations.
The definition of excellent customer service has changed. Historically, customer service was confined to international call centers that were designed to optimize the number of tickets completed with no regard to the experience of the end user. It was often seen as a costly back-office necessity.
Regardless of industry, we are in an experience or “expectation” driven economy. For consumers, there is as much or more value placed on how a brand made them feel than the quality of your product or service.
The Rise of CX as a Business Strategy
For consumers, the democratization of luxury services through rental subscriptions like Rent the Runway and travel startups like BLADE gave the everyday consumer a taste of premier brand experience – and thus has now become the expectation.
During the pandemic, the enterprise’s rapid transition from in-person to digital-only service left slow-to-adopt-cloud legacy brands vulnerable. Even more true today, those companies hesitant to fully transition to the cloud risk losing customers to agile startups, particularly in disruptive sectors like FinTech.
The consumer’s desire to feel aligned with the values of the brands they support put even more pressure on CX. To stay competitive, business leaders should adopt CX as a core value proposition and leave behind the notion that it is purely a necessary business function that doesn’t impact the bottom line.
How Can the Cloud Enhance CX?
Abandoning on-premise and fully embracing the cloud means additional support for your customers and CX teams in the following ways:
- Provide a faster experience. Less downtime switching between solutions means more efficient customer communication.
- Store customer data in a streamlined, intuitive way. Not only is customer data easier to find, but it is more readily available to digest and draw insights from.
- Allow you to offer more channels for customer service. When you have a firm grasp on your data, you can offer customers more ways to get in touch.
- Scalability. Designed to grow, the cloud makes making changes to your systems easier and more efficient.
- Ability to integrate AI/ML and automation using both quantitative and qualitative feedback to power learning.
- Break down silos between marketing, sales, and service. Democratizing data across departments allows your teams to operate with less friction.
- Unification between the front and back office. Integrating CX into the core business strategy is the key to driving business outcomes.
With a robust, cloud-enabled customer experience offering, we are likely to see the convergence of sales, marketing and service functions led by a chief experience officer (CXO). With experience and expectation at the center of all customer interactions, it will be critical for these areas of the business to stay aligned. To facilitate this coalescence, we are also likely to see customer data platforms (CDPs) replace traditional CRMs.
Technology alone won’t improve your CX but it is essential in order to meet the growing demands of a tech-enabled customer base. To build out an excellent customer experience, in addition to deploying the right technologies, you need to ensure you are staffing your teams in a way that is reflective of your customers and addresses their unique needs. Diversify your sales, marketing, and service teams with women, people of color and varying ages and backgrounds. If you want your customers to embrace your brand, you need as many different voices at the table as possible to bring inclusivity to your product or service.
When you unlock your data by centralizing it in the cloud and democratizing its use, you open the door for a future where your business has a deeper understanding of each customer (and potential customer) on an individual basis—leading to more meaningful relationships, higher loyalty, lower churn, and a path for growth in line with exactly what your consumers want.
Dominique Bastos is currently Senior Vice President of Sales and Head of the AWS business unit at Persistent Systems.