Bridging the Communications Chasm between Employees and Customers

The dilemma of choice is a well-known concept in the psychology of consumer purchasing–namely, the more options you have, the more difficult it is to not only make, but also be satisfied with a decision. Businesses, however, hadn’t felt the same pain in their decision-making. The explosion of applications over the years—in everything from CRM systems to marketing automation to communication and collaboration tools—seemed like the ideal environment for businesses; individual departments could choose the best solutions for their needs and IT just needed to ensure they could support them.

The problem emerged when customers and employees attempted to communicate and gather information across this plethora of systems, and the lack of integration and unity exposed the gaping holes in the business. In the interest of short-term success, organisations created a communications and information chasm between the business, employees and its customers.

You can’t spell CX without IT (more or less)

The role IT and, especially, the CIO plays in enabling organisations to be more successful and efficient in their technology use has changed significantly over the last decade. More and more, business leaders are relying on them to help not only execute but also drive better customer experiences in an increasingly digitally-enabled world. Frankly, it’s not what most CIO’s originally signed up for, but given the ever-changing business and technology landscape, this responsibility is critical to their roles.

Likewise, understanding the long-term effects these disparate applications have on the business and customer experience is a strategic imperative—just like having a plan for integrating, consolidating, and sunsetting applications that consume a large amount of resources without adding significant value. The balancing act of quickly responding to growing business needs with braking on non-strategic applications is no easy task—and may lead to some unique organisational challenges—but the ultimate goal should be one the business is firmly behind.

Keeping technology and the customer experience in sync

The hardest part about the current technology landscape is that there’s always something shiny, new, and potentially game-changing. And with each one of these technology innovations, the question is asked: will these new technologies provide a better way to serve and/or interact with our customers? Think of the last decade; did businesses ever think they’d be not only advertising, but also communicating with customers over Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.?

Obviously, different organisations adopt these technologies at different times and for different reasons. (Our upcoming webinar features author Geoffrey Moore, who is best known for his seminal work, Crossing the Chasm, on that very subject). But in whichever part of the adoption lifecycle you find yourself, you should understand the strategic role technology plays and build an organisation flexible and agile enough to integrate it into the collective knowledge of your business. To do this, you need to understand the performance and outcomes of both customer and employee interactions.

The right tech only goes so far

A lot of what we’ve talked about removes the human element from the technology adoption and integration process. But ultimately the best outcomes come from alignment between those using the technology and the application itself. A recent report by Aberdeen highlights this relationship, specifically that businesses providing contact centre agents with capabilities that connect them to the rest of the business, such as integrated contact centre and unified communications tools, see an improvement in everything from agent performance and customer satisfaction to overall company revenue and lifetime value.

And, to be clear, it is not the integration of technology that causes these outcomes; it’s how you empower your employees to use them. Being able to reach the right person the first time, access information quickly, and gather intelligence from across your business demonstrates to customers that you understand their needs and prioritise them above any internal hierarchy or infrastructure you have established. Unless all of your systems can provide this level of intelligence, you will experience a gap between your business and customers—with little insight on how to bridge it.

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Adapted from 'Bridging the Communications Chasm between Employees and Customers' by Ciaran Doyle on the official 8x8 website

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