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Expectations from customers are increasingly difficult to meet. There is little doubt that customer experience can do the job by delivering outstanding customer engagements. In this article, we will identify tools that businesses can leverage for achieving this goal.

‚ÄčDigitalization is disrupting nearly every industry. Expectations from customers rise, encouraging the need to deliver adequate interactions. Customer experience, fed by customer engagement, has paved its way into the mind of executives to satisfy the rising expectations of the customer. The question is not if companies should implement customer experience tools, but which once?

For example, conducting thorough lead management becomes increasingly difficult as result of an overload of customer data. Defining whether a lead is qualified to continue into sales is a giant guessing game. And what to do with all the leads who are not ready yet? Should these leads be further nurtured, and if yes, with which marketing campaign? Segmentation and lead management can be a long lasting and tiring process based on demographic data and manual input from marketing- or sales personal. Leads which are ready to be converted in sales must be handed over by marketing- to the sales department, and chances of disconnection between the two departments is immiscible. To address those challenges, the question arises which tools to use to automate decision-making based on facts, data, and knowledge about the customer. This article will elaborate on four different tools for customer engagement: Marketing, Sales, Service and Social, which lead to optimal customer experience.

4 tools to consider for outstanding customer engagement 

Within the customer experience area, there are several (cloud) tools which can help you achieve competitive advantage. The cloud tools have specific capabilities to benefit from and they can help optimize many business processes. Below we highlight the four most apparent tools that can be leveraged:

1. Marketing Automation platforms

This tool automates marketing campaigns and enables cross-channel orchestration. As part of a marketing platform, data management platforms (DMP’s) receive increased attention due to its far-reaching possibilities in unification and activation of marketing data. With a DMP in place, it is possible to unify marketing data and build audiences of your ideal customers, real time. So, what exactly does this mean?

  • DMP’s enable the process to create segments of your own customers based on collected data about their preferences. This segmentation can be used to target yet unknown customer(s) with the same profile as your current customers;
  • While the previous process is based on customer data collected by the company itself, it is also possible to turn this process around. Data gathered by third-parties can be used to create customer segments of yet unknown customer profiles. This segmentation can be used to identify the needs and preferences of your own customers which match the same profile.

A DMP is a solution that provides more ways for advertisers to target and improve multichannel campaigns. Some other examples of such an improvement is the possibility to know where conversations occur, from which unique customer, and on which device. This data can be combined and result in a personalized and effective cross-channel marketing strategy to enhance customer experience.

2. Sales Force Automation (SFA) software

This tool traditionally aims to maximize your sales with an effective and efficient end-to-end solution, which automates the sales process and enables your sales force to perform well. On top of that, SFA software can also help to improve customer experience. Let’s find out how SFA features can help you improve customer experience.

SFA software is particularly effective in managing customers. In the latest generation of software, mobile became the new standard for sales representatives to do so. Your sales reps obtain real-time reporting and analytics about the client on every possible device at every moment in time. They can therefore deliver high quality engagement, save time, answer questions about orders, and notify customers. Real-time reporting also enables your sales team to keep track of current interactions with your customer(s) and provides analytics on neglected customers. By doing so, your company will be able to detect these neglected contacts and make sure to interact with them in a more structured manner. All the data about customer interactions can be stored and translated into accessible insights by using gamification features. Sales representatives will be motivated to deliver optimal customer experience due to the milestones, social connectedness, and status brought by gamification.

3. Service Automation software

An important, if not most important, part of customer experience is customer service. Service automation software is built to deliver optimal service with tools such as cross-channel contact center, knowledge management, policy automation, and field service management. Recent research from Gartner (2016) about the importance of self-service technologies, shows that two-third of the customer service interactions will be done through self-service initiatives by 2017. Customers enjoy the consistent, quick and accurate information provided by self- service interactions. Knowing this, it is not surprising that the Digital Assistant (DA) is an emerging feature within the customer self-service domain.

This DA will help you to meet customer expectations by aiding on every channel and device whenever the customer wants. This means that your customers will never have to wait in line again and will receive adequate response to their questions. One of Accenture’s clients in the telecommunication industry achieved a successful 82% resolution of customer interactions through a digital assistant. To do so, DA’s are equipped with knowledge- and context engines and natural language processing (NLP). Beyond this, DA’s can be equipped with machine learning technologies and can therefore provide proactive advice and personalized engagement. Due to the abilities enabled by modern technologies and the scalability of DA’s, it becomes a major tool in delivering optimal, on-demand, cross-device, and personalized customer experience in a cost-efficient way.

4. Social Media Engagement (SME)

Customers are increasingly active on social media channels to get in contact with companies. In the banking industry, companies often lack the capability to adapt its reputation management to social media. To address this issue, UBS investment bank implemented a social solution to monitor possible risks. The SME tool enables monitoring and adequate communication through the variety of social touchpoints. One of the major capabilities of SME software is social listening and social media response. These capabilities provide more direct access to the customer and provide the possibility to get a view on important topics across social media channels. With such software, the investment bank could create customer records across channels and prioritize important topics that need instant personalized assistance.

The power of connecting customer engagement tools

We have asked ourselves the question which tools your company should leverage to create outstanding customer engagement throughout the customer journey. We have noticed that there are stand-alone tools to automate and improve business processes like Marketing, Sales, Service and Social. However, there is another customer experience ‘tool’ which has not been mentioned yet: connecting multiple stand-alone tools.

The main benefit of integrating systems is to create one single source of the truth. Data is gathered throughout the organization, and traditionally functional departments might have their own systems. When these functional systems are integrated, every department retrieves data from the same source within the organization. Standardization of procedures is available for entering, editing and utilizing data. This data can be used to create a 360-view of the customer and can easily be exploited to deliver personalized future sales, service, and marketing interactions.

Let’s see how integrating business processes can create synergies by looking at an example. Accenture recently had a project where the client wanted to integrate marketing and sales processes. By automating these processes, segmentation and qualification of leads is now done automatically based on behavioral data. Leads are automatically assigned to a sales representative once they reach a certain level in the lead nurturing process. If not ready, an appropriate marketing campaign is automatically launched to nurture the potential customer. Sales representatives can see marketing campaigns, and the action undertaken by the customer. This customer-knowledge is a valuable source of information for sales interactions, but it also works vice versa at service or marketing engagements. The company can respond to, or even predict, the next service interaction and be prepared to answer all the questions.

This article is the second of a two-count series about customer experience. The previous article elaborated on the challenges that business leaders face due to rising customer expectations. In this article, we provide several tools to address those challenges.

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