Customer experience joins marketing in the boardroom

Webhelp talks to Anne-Marie Forsyth at the CCA on the subject of the marketing connected contact centre

anne_marieThe key metric for success is now customer experience quality. A poor customer experience has repercussions across the board, particularly when it comes to profit. When companies understand this and operate accordingly, there are overwhelmingly positive results. Here are Anne-Marie's thoughts on the subject:

Webhelp: Dimension Data recently reported that customer experience is now the number one performance measure for executive teams and boards ahead of both sales revenue and profits, do you feel that is reflected in the customer management strategies that you see?

Anne-Marie Forsyth: Customer experience is a very broad church. The true measure of how important experience is to an organisation is the extent to which c-suite executives are rewarded and efforts recognised to improve customer experience and not just focused on profits – not just about what but how.


Webhelp:
How big a role do you feel customer experience now plays in marketing? Has it become the most important factor?

Anne-Marie Forsyth: There is a cliché now that customer service is the new marketing. Inevitably it means the silos of customer service and marketing are moving closer together and it could be argued that social media has acted as a catalyst to drive this forward.


Webhelp: 
Marketing and customer service departments have historically had vastly different different sets of priorities, in reality how practical do you think it is for functions like these to become more closey integrated?

Anne-Marie Forsyth: It has now become essential. New organisations with no legacy tend to have these departments work together instinctively. Roles such as Customer Experience Officer and Chief Marketing Officer are likely to become amalgamated creating a more integrated approach.


Webhelp: 
What would you say the key priority areas would be to for companies wishing to improve levels of integration between both areas?

Anne-Marie Forsyth: It is critical to think about analysing the data coming out of the contact centre. Is it robust, accurate and presenting the most realistic voice of customer? Once the contact centre is confident in this it can influence marketing strategy going forward.


Question: 
What are the biggest barriers in doing so?

Anne-Marie Forsyth: Siloed and legacy organisations have ways of doing things that are no longer fit for purpose. Measures which may not serve the overall strategy well as it drives the wrong behaviours could make or break for a business. Measure what counts not what you can.


Webhelp: 
How big a part do you feel technology should play in connecting both marketing and customer management?

Anne-Marie Forsyth: Recent results from CCA reseach shows that 85% of organisations have a digital strategy in place and a willingness to transform but only 17% feel they have the right technology infrastructure in place to support their transformation efforts. This paradox is played out in many organisations and needs a fundamental shift to transform.


Webhelp: 
What would your prediction be of how this might evolve over the next 3-5 years? What exciting changes do you feel are ahead?

Anne-Marie Forsyth: There are so many drivers coming together that we are beginning to perhaps see the dawn of a ‘perfect storm’. A new level of connectedness will be expected and demanded from customers, and organisations will need to find ways to ‘leap frog’ legacy to meet demands or be left behind. CCA produced some future scenarios in 2012 which focused on the changing role of the agent and a new service e-tail environment – a view that had expert problem solvers working in a flexible way, and where online and the high street become more intimately woven together and we can already see some of these ideas being put into practice.

UNITING CUSTOMER SERVICE AND MARKETING

Operating in a digital environment requires the expertise of both the marketing and customer service teams. Businesses can no longer afford to operate in silos if they want to succeed – it’s time for positive change.

Download our white paper on the connected contact centre

How To Win The Customer Loyalty War

HOW DATA SHARING COULD BE THE KEY TO UNLOCKING PROFITABILITY

Companies are missing out on the single biggest opportunity to win the war for customer loyalty by failing to share data from marketing campaigns with their customer experience front line, the contact centre, says David Turner, CEO of leading global customer experience outsourcer, Webhelp.

Marketing teams spend millions every year to acquire new customers and in the process hugely valuable data on those customers is captured. Once those new customers have been brought into the brand the responsibility for maintaining the relationship transfers to the customer experience teams, and often that can mean an outsourced provider. But whereas the transfer of responsibility for the relationship can happen quite easily, the transfer of data is a very different story. This is where brands are failing to capitalise on a huge opportunity.

Customers already feel a connection and affinity with a brand before they make the decision to purchase. A contact centre needing to completely rediscover that customer’s preferences can destroy the connection between brand and customer and ultimately ensure failure by the brand to win repeat business.

Traditionally the marketing department has found it easier to win the boardroom budget battle because the return on investment has been much clearer to define, but today’s world of digital communication and interaction is changing that.

A recent study, the Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report 2016, has highlighted that a significant number of boardrooms are now focussed on customer loyalty rather than profit or cost to serve as a key measure of success. That is not to say that profits or costs are any less important, but boardrooms are waking up to the fact that customer loyalty is the key to unlocking both.

Customers are no longer influenced by traditional advertising as they used to be and this presents a challenge for marketers. In the world of instant, digital communications, word of mouth and customer advocacy is the holy grail of new customer acquisition and retention. This means brands need to ensure a consistently high quality customer experience throughout the customer journey. To transform a customer into an advocate, a brand needs to ensure the customer loves the experience at every point at which they come into contact with the brand – and that is where the contact centre holds great influence.

It is one thing to attract a customer to buy a product, but in order to keep them coming back to buy more and to influence others to buy too, brands need to ensure a customer’s experience is fantastic at every point in their journey. For many customers the most significant interactions they will have with a brand are through that brand’s contact centre. This is where the brand can win or lose that all important customer advocate.

To ensure a positive result, the in-house marketing team needs to work hand in hand with the contact centre. During the customer acquisition process, owned by the marketing team, huge amounts of data has been collected. Data that provides valuable insight into a customer’s interests, how and when they like to shop, what communication channels or devices they like to use. This is data which is often lost once the potential customer has been encouraged to purchase, but it is data the contact centre could use to great effect. Access to this data would ensure contact centres could treat customers as if they already know them, rather than having to reinvent the wheel and get to know the customer all over again.

So what do you do if you have outsourced your customer contact centre? David Turner, CEO of Webhelp UK, explained: “First of all you need to ensure that your contact centre values and knows how to deliver a fantastic customer experience, and that means choosing a partner that uses analytics and data to offer a personalised experience tailored to your customers’ needs.

“Secondly, you need the marketing and customer experience teams to work closely together to ensure the hard work done by the marketing team to bring in a new customer is maximised by a great customer contact experience. That is the way to turn your customers into advocates.

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you need a customer contact partner with a mature and well-funded research and development function. This will ensure they can help you keep pace with new technology and the way it is changing the expectations of your customers in relation to how they want to engage with your brand. It is a fast paced and ever changing world and those who don’t keep innovating will be left behind wondering where all their customers have gone.

“This changing world of digital and instant communication provides an enormous opportunity for brands to talk to potential new customers through that most powerful of mediums, customer advocates. When so much is invested in marketing to gain new customers and so much depends on keeping those customers happy, it is crucial to ensure the experience they have through your customer contact centres reflects you as a brand.

“Neither the marketing team nor the customer contact team can deliver this in isolation. As always, two heads are better than one, and marketing and customer experience need to work together to win the war for customer loyalty.”

What to read next? Try our marketing connected contact centre whitepaper. Click here

 

For more information please contact:
Heather Astbury, head of PR at Webhelp, on +44(0)7825 593242 heather.astbury@uk.webhelp.com