In today's hyperconnected, always-on world, the value of a simplified experience can't be overstated. People are busier than ever and demand products and services that deliver pain-free experiences. Most businesses understand the impetus behind this trend, however many still struggle to meet their customers' expectations. The importance of delivering simplified, seamless experiences was a major theme at this year's CRM Evolution conference in New York City. Industry analysts and vendors offered a number of strategies and ideas for elevating the customer experience with intuitive services and products.
Consumers want the freedom to customize a product or service to fit their needs, but can feel overwhelmed with too many choices, noted Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research during a presentation. A smarter strategy is to offer options within a controlled environment, he said.
"One of the reasons Disney is successful is because they let customers make their own choices but still control the experience because they've planned everything out," Wang noted. "You'll never satisfy your customers if you give them too many choices or [operate] in a reactive mode."
Analyzing and utilizing customer data points across databases and channels is also critical to delivering a simplified experience. Nuance Communications, for example, is working with other businesses to deliver more intuitive services.
During the conference, Nuance unveiled enhancements to its customer self-service offerings. The new features include a more powerful natural language processing capability to better understand text message responses from customers. If a telecom customer, for example, received an SMS reminder that his or her bill was late, and responded by asking to pay the bill in increments, the self-service system would be able to understand the question and by having access to the necessary databases, send an appropriate response.
There are many more opportunities for companies to deliver seamless experiences, observed Greg Pal, vice president of marketing, strategy and business development at Nuance Communications. "Companies can't just focus on one channel anymore," Pal said in a discussion with 1to1 Media. "Consumers are connecting across the phone, mobile, web, and email, and it's a question of how do you connect all those dots."
Additionally, the barriers that used to define customer expectations have largely disappeared. In a presentation titled, "Customer Service has Gotten Weird" Ian Jacobs, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, noted that customer service expectations are being increasingly influenced by new technologies and other industries.
Pointing to the Google Maps integration with ride-hailing app Uber as an example of an untraditional partnership, "companies must think beyond traditional boundaries and think more about their partner ecosystem," Jacobs said. "Look at your partner ecosystem and think about what can you do to be more useful to your customers."
And finally, it's impossible to predict what the latest must-have platform or channel will be. Companies that try to keep up with every new technology trend risk straining their resources and diluting the brand's value. A better approach is to stick to the fundamentals of great customer service, Jacobs advised. "Remember the '4Ps' of customer service, he said. "Be pain free, proactive, personalized, and productive."