Building trust and creating better customer experiences – a short guide
The phrase “customer experience” (CX) is often thought of in terms of the way that customers interact with an online interface or web page, or the service they receive from a call centre or when making a purchase. However, customer experience is a much more difficult concept to encapsulate than that because it goes beyond an interface, interaction or transaction, and comprises too of a mixture of concepts like privacy, personalisation, individuality, brand value or “weight,” and critically, trust.
If your business sells online, then establishing a bond of trust between you and your customers (consumers or other companies – it’s irrelevant in this context) is not something that happens by accident. And even if it’s sought after proactively by astute businesses and organisations, it can be difficult to attain and is even more easily lost, just like trust in human to human relationships.
In online commerce terms, the first step in creating positive customer experiences is establishing and building up trust, a process which in practical terms starts by ensuring privacy and personalisation. People with whom you do business online need to be sure that their data, given freely to you as an organisation, is safely held, respected and never misused. And secondly, the customer would like to be treated as an individual, so shown a degree of personalisation, based on previous interactions or preferences indicated on the first contact.
On that first score, privacy, it’s probably worth saying that depending on where you do your business in the world, it’s a good idea to go well above and beyond any stipulations and laws of the region where it comes to data privacy and security. Legislatures are infamously slow on the uptake when it comes to digital matters, and merely adhering to local data protection governance may not be enough to convince a potential customer that their data is in safe hands.
The second element of trust, personalisation, is also a practical matter. Creating a personalised service to every customer via what’s essentially an anonymous channel – online – is a difficult thing to achieve, but one that is, as we’ve established, a cornerstone of a positive customer experience.
In IT terms, it means the drawing together of multiple strands of communication and the rest of the enterprise’s functions: emails, DMs, SMS, website tracking, plus the supply chain data, logistics data, marketing operations. On a larger scale and outside simple IT terms, aligning the way that the different business processes work creates an environment that works well, and therefore is trustworthy: items placed in a customer’s basket are confirmed as being in stock by warehousing, and logistics systems confirm they have the capability to deliver. That keeps the promise to each customer, entered into by the placing of shopping items in the cart at the point of sale.
That’s difficult at scale without the right tools, as it needs the facility to create a pool of so-called “normalised” data from disparate sources. How do you draw information regarding sentiment and preferences from phone call recordings or written letters? How do you square that sentiment with what happened in the supply chain – establishing patterns on cold, hard data is a tough ask. These are some of the challenges undertaken by the platforms we feature here – see below.
Even the online giants of retail are going to extreme lengths to create trust as important parts creation of better customer experiences. Amazon, for instance, long blamed for the demise of many brick-and-mortar establishments, is now itself opening traditional stores right across APAC, Europe and the US. That’s happening not because doing so is considered by Jeff Bezos as the future of retail, but because having a physical presence on the main thoroughfare promotes trust due to the physical manifestation of what’s until now has been a digital entity. It touches on one of the oldest tropes of business: people are happiest buying from people. While not every retailer has the ability or means to run e-commerce and brick-and-mortar simultaneously (an omnichannel sales strategy, in other words), it does show the reason behind the need for personalisation in good customer experiences – it’s the human touch that’s sought after.
The creation of a fuller picture of the way your organisation does business, will combine operational data (the hard facts and figures coming from your business processes, such as sales, financials, supply chain) with experience data that tells you why the customer behaved a certain way or made a decision based on what they were feeling (where and why a customer abandoned a cart, or why a wholesaler has cut their order levels, for example). Creating brand loyalty and repeat business means a process, therefore, of business “soul-searching” in combination with hard, empirical facts. That way, you build trust, ensure privacy and provide personalisation.
The importance of not just considering customers in this journey might raise some eyebrows, but many businesses sell down multiple channels: to various retailers, distributors, markets, resellers, and direct to customers. As you build trust and create positive customer experiences, you should find that because of brand awareness and developing loyalty, more business will come to you and repeat business will build, down each channel. If your distribution methods include direct sales, they too should increase – in some quarters the figures here are seen as the “purest” indicator of brand loyalty.
Here at Tech Wire Asia, we’re looking at two suppliers of platforms designed to help you create world-beating customer experiences, ones that will drive trade and increase your margins and turnover. The software & systems featured below will help combine customer experience data with operational metadata so that you can track and improve your organisation’s performance. The journey to providing better customer experiences is one that requires tools that can scale and are intelligent and powerful enough to power even the most complex of international, multi-channel organisations.
The challenge that focuses the minds of today’s businesses is how to offer the very best customer experience, end to end. Each individual needs to be regarded as (and certainly sees him or herself) as a “segment of one.” That means personalisation, but a whole lot more – and that’s where the SAP Customer Experience comes in, offering a platform that connects all elements of the customer experience so that companies can keep their promises.
SAP Customer Experience has the innovative cloud solutions in its SAP C/4HANA portfolio that unify every process and interaction between the individual (be they a person, or a business in B2B contexts) and your organisation, placing the customer at the heart of your company.
SAP C/4HANA (C for the customer, 4 for 4th generation CRM, and HANA refering to the company’s powerful database technology) brings together customer data management, machine learning and microservices to power real-time, intelligent customer engagement across sales, customer service, marketing, and commerce. It comprises of five, leading-edge cloud products that together, give organisations the complete overview of the full customer lifecycle, deliver personalised outcomes, and create mutual bonds between customer and company that truly creates happy brand advocates. Now, with the acquisition of Qualtrics and its powerful Experience Management platform, SAP also brings together a company’s operational data (the ‘what happened’) with outside-in experience data (the ‘why it happened’) to deliver even better customer, employee, product, and brand experiences.
SAP Customer Experience helps brands build long-term competitive differentiation and loyalty through experiences that are trusted, simple, personal, helpful, and connected to help customers achieve their goals. You can read more about how you can establish your business as a significant player in the new experience economy by clicking here.
Oracle’s CX platform is a cloud-based solution aimed at businesses that want to unify their entire operations, from initial marketing activities, through to sales, after-service and customer care. Its social media interfaces also mean it can monitor public advocacy and feedback too – the ultimate type of advertising for any business. The platform uses elements of the company’s PaaS and SaaS platforms which for many is an industry standard already in use in other parts of the business.
The CX platform comprises of functions that combine into a whole: data gathering from third-parties as well as the business’s own data silos, and intelligent code base that can mine unstructured data via machine-learning routines, a link through to communication channels, and social media integration to push messages and monitor streams and timelines.
There are also open APIs for integrating your development activities if you need to build your own CX applications, and being a blue-chip company, the overarching security framework is first-rate, as you might expect. There’s also access to an online marketplace that offers further extensibility through other apps, integrations with common business systems and various data mining and publishing mechanisms, so you can build your platform using what are essentially ready-mades.
*Some of the companies featured are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia
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