We recently spoke with several industry analysts who had surprising observations and forecasts that, if true, are creating problems and risks for us right now.
Here are a few highlights about where analysts think customer engagement is headed and why our problem may be about to get worse.
Fluid Customer Journey
The customer journey and life cycle is becoming more fluid. It used to be that we could break the customer journey into discrete steps like shop, buy and service. But what the analysts observe is that customers are doing all the steps—shop/buy/service—all at the same time. Our take is that this is likely coming from mobile and the resulting micro-moments where journey steps are digitized and acted on continually.
The customer journey is becoming fluid. Customers shop - buy - service all at once.
The challenge occurs when customer engagement strategy and technology are not built for fluidity. Just look at how one of the contact center’s most valued KPIs (First Call Resolution) is likely the wrong metric for fluid engagement. This fluidity challenges our engagement strategy, our organizational structure and our technology strategy.
Today the enterprise is designed to address the customer journey at specific discrete functional steps like shop, buy and service. Functional enterprise software has been developed and deployed to address these needs. So, as an example, Salesforce focused on Sales, Oracle focused on commerce, and Avaya on service. Functional, siloed software.
The challenge is that functional software requires the customers to be handed off from one software stack to another as they move through a journey. And if that journey is fluid and jumpy? Ouch. The result is a very poor customer experience.
If we’re going to create a solution that delivers a no-gap customer experience and address the fluid customer journey, who in your organization is going to own it? Who is going to lead across organizational boundaries where there is no clear owner (much less budget)?
The challenge is to address the fluid customer journey, organizational and political barriers will have to come down. As a general rule, companies organize around functional areas and not the customer.
So the surprise for me is that at least one analyst considers organizational barriers to be the #1 roadblock to creating the kind of digital customer experience so sorely needed. Technology is not the main barrier. Operations is not the main barrier. Ownership of the problem is.
Studies by Bain & Company agree. "85% of executives say the greatest barriers to achieving their growth objectives lie inside their own four walls, according to Bain research. In the largest companies, this rises to 94% of executives who believe that their most difficult challenges are internal, not external."
Organizational barriers are the #1 roadblock to providing digital customer experience.
Indeed we see this barrier alive and well as we talk to enterprises about their digital strategies and plans. Often the Contact Center and the eBusiness/Digital teams-- both of which need to cooperate for a complete digital solution--don't speak the same language, and conversations end in a wait and see mode. But this is slowly changing as firms face the barriers head on.
Digital Competitive Advantage
Instead of trying to do too much at one time, the analysts we spoke with recommend firms focus on the customer interactions that bring competitive advantage. Find the top 3- 5 areas your customers most need, where you can build solutions to address those needs, and where you can build 12-18 months of competitive differentiation (it won’t last any longer than that, really). That’s it. It's short and focused.
Such strategy requires speed, agility, cross-functional leadership and a deep understanding of what’s important to your customers.