The message, not the medium

The face of customer engagement is constantly changing. Although traditional forms of communication still play a predominant role in conversations between companies and their customers, they cannot be offered in isolation.

People now expect to be able to contact companies through multiple channels; switching between them at their convenience. And, while many businesses have developed new channels in response to customer demand, many still fall short of delivering effective customer support through them.

Our recent survey results found

  • Just 15% of the UK’s leading companies responded to tweets from customers
  • Nearly nine in ten (88%) of customers said they had been frustrated by inconsistent information across channels

More than anything, while companies are offering more and more customer communication channels, many are failing to take advantage of their potential by focusing too much on the medium, and not the message.

It’s no longer enough to just provide more channels, these channels have to offer an effortless stream of communication – the ‘omni-channel’. The end result is a smooth and more satisfying customer experience which, for companies, can convert into sales, repeat business and loyalty. Done well, it can also improve efficiency and deliver significant cost savings.


Operational consolidation and language capability

For many organisations, consolidating their contact centre operations is a first step towards transformation of their customer engagement capability. The objective of consolidation must be to achieve a consistent global operation that follows a set of common processes. It must share common technology, be managed by a united team to meet business-wide objectives and report its performance against those objectives in a comprehensive reporting structure. It must respond to rapidly changing customer demands.

For most multi-national organisations, language presents the most significant barrier to consolidation. Let’s imagine, for the moment, that you are a global business serving, let’s say, forty or more countries around the world with diverse language requirements. You want to consolidate and you want to do so in locations that will give you both longevity and cost efficiency. Where do you go?

By contracting with an OSP that has true international reach, it becomes possible to transfer much of the risk associated with consolidation. Outsourcing commits you to no physical infrastructure or employment contracts, you are free to move as global situations change and, in the context of a mature and strategic outsourcing partnership, you can expect your OSP to keep your location options open.

However agile your OSP is, sourcing multiple languages in only a handful of global locations is a considerable challenge. Creating a matrix of language scalability and requirement helps decide optimum locations and narrow down your OSP choice based on language capability in combination with other key factors like demand optimisation, omni-channel capability, and delivering actionable insight from customer data.

More on consolidation and language capability in this white paper.


Customer experience optimisation in insurance

Every industry battles its fair share of challenges while optimising their customers’ experiences – across channels and product/service portfolios. The insurance sector is one where customer churn is high and defecting to competition is becoming increasingly commonplace. The rise of online comparison services combined with the very nature of insurance policies puts customers at higher risk where most relationships are up for review and renewal every 12 months.

How can insurers ensure they are picked at the end of those 12 months, every time? The key lies in using an omni-channel approach to deliver clear, consistent and compelling messages that customers want to engage with, guiding them down a well-structured and easily navigable journey.

This sounds ideal in theory, but the truth is insurers find the concept difficult to operationalise. We’ve recently published an insight article on customer engagement in the insurance sector which explores customer motives during the review and deliberation process before shifting to another insurance provider. Studies find that customers who feel engaged by their insurers are less likely to defect and are willing to accept an 8-15% price differential before jumping ship. The overall feedback to this has been positive, with most industry professionals agreeing to the need for a strong engagement strategy in their customer experience approach. We’ve also heard back from senior industry professionals who still feel that price is the singular, most important factor in determining customer loyalty in the insurance sector, and that engagement is a good-to-have. We would argue that while price is certainly important, as mentioned in our article, engagement is more than a value-add. It is essential for several reasons:

  1. Understanding customer needs – communication that forms the basis of engagement also transfers valuable information back to the insurer and helps deliver the service customers expect.
  2. Predicting customer behaviour – regular engagement does more than build a 360 degree view of customer needs, it can also predict future customer behaviour through big data mining and analytics.
  3. Reducing operational cost – the ideal approach in engaging customers is via a cross-channel approach depending on their preference and need. We’ve published a white paper on the advantages of operationalising omni-channel strategies and here’s link to a quick guide if you’re interested in reading further.

The truth is, customer engagement is one of the pillars on which the insurance customer experience needs to be modelled and not an additional aspect of customer service. Insurers need to evolve and adapt their attitude towards customers. Price alone can no longer be thought of as the hook, line and sinker, customers need more from their insurers, they need engagement as part of a positive customer experience, each time every time.

Our latest white paper Insure Against Loss examines in detail the opportunities in the insurance sector. In this paper we will explore how delivering an exceptional customer experience can increase customer engagement levels and reduce customer churn.


What comes first, the big data or the experience?

David Turner Chief Executive Officer at Webhelp UK - Customer Experience Innovators

Over the last 30 years face-to-face interactions have reduced, new channels have emerged and the once simple task of knowing your customer and meeting their needs has become more difficult. Or has it? In this multi-channel age, do you know your customers better?

There’s been a lot of hype recently about big data. That hype might easily lead you to believe three things; firstly that big data is new, secondly that it’s the answer to any problem you might face and, lastly, that it is very complicated and difficult to apply.

‘Data’ isn’t new, but its escalation into ‘big data’, fuelled by the rise of mobile devices and social media, and the seemingly limitless wealth of information they generate, is substantively different. Many business people find themselves wondering where to start.

Our starting point is the customer and our premise is that big data can be used to target products and services precisely and deliver an exceptional, profitable customer experience across any channel.

When your goal is to deliver excellent customer experiences by showing customers that you know them and that you’re listening and responding consistently and enthusiastically to their needs, I believe there are three capabilities a company must develop:

  • First, they need to capture and analyse data to understand their customers.
  • Then they need to use data science techniques to spot changes in a customer’s behaviour or needs and decide what to do next.
  • Then they need to be able to design and deploy a consistent set of actions that will meet the customer’s needs over whichever interaction channel they choose.

Do you really know your customers better now or can you not see the customers for the data?

White paper: Big data analytics & the creation of profitable, personal customer relationships
Have a question or comment? Get in touch with David on LinkedIn