Multi-channel customer experience optimization: whose business is it?

Multi-channel customer experience optimizationCustomer experience optimization is hot. A look at Google Trends shows that ‘customer experience‘ as a topic has been searched for on the Web at a fast growing pace in recent years and months. There are many reasons for this fact.

The so-called empowered consumer increasingly defines the what, why, when and how of interactions with organizations. He also voices his opinions regarding user, brand and customer experiences.

This shift of control has brought the customer experience under the attention of many business functions. Where it once used to be mainly the domain of contact centers, the customer experience is everyone’s business today.

With customer-centricity as a key condition to succeed in business and a general decrease in consumer trust, marketers increasingly look at the customer experience as well. The same goes for IT where the user experience of the internal or external customer (including employees) defines the adoption, usage and thus success of any application. Finally, more organizations start holding C-level executives responsible for customer experience related metrics.

The customer experience is everyone’s business but it needs to be organized

The customer experience should be everyone’s business. After all, our experiences are based on perceptions about the value of interactions with everyone in an organization and across all touch points. Consistency matters a lot.

However, the debate about the “ownership” of the customer experience within the organization is real, even if it looks like a contradiction in this “everyone’s business” perspective at first sight. Some organizations have even created new functions for it such as the Chief Customer Officer. These debates are not as contradictory as they seem: in the end, customer experience optimization needs to be managed – or better: organized.

Another debate about the “ownership” of the customer experience is raging in the technology industry. From marketing automation vendors to content management system vendors: many claim they offer solutions to manage and improve customer experiences.

Of course, it all depends on how you look at it. The evolution of different software vendors towards a focus on the overall customer journey and experience is good news for the customer. Yet, at the same time, systems alone don’t guarantee good customer experiences. In the first place, people and processes do.

The crucial role of the contact center: challenges and solutions

In this regard, the role of the contact center should not be overlooked. Customer service and contact center agents have a crucial role as they are on the front row of human-to-human interactions.

Contact centers were also the first to move towards a multi-channel approach as the consumer became more “channel-agnostic”. Years before a social platform such as Twitter went mainstream, for instance, many contact centers already offered support for it, even if the number of interactions was still very low in those days early days. And it’s not just about social platforms.

Call center evolutions - how interaction context richness evolves - via marketsmith

Call center evolutions – how interaction context richness evolves – via marketsmith

As shown in the Internet Trends 2014 report by Mary Meeker, the demand for a multi-channel approach with a growing focus on digital communication will continue to grow.

Customers want to communicate on their terms using their preferred ways: snail mail, email, online forms, telephone, self-help, social, media, faxes, the list goes on. The evolutions regarding mobile, smart devices and real-time technologies will continue to increase the choice the consumer has and impact the contact center.

For the contact center the challenges are clear: how do we handle cases as fast, cost-efficient and – most of all focused on great customer experiences – as we can?

It takes processes. It takes platforms to capture, digitize, structure and extract incoming data and information. It also requires fast access to the necessary information, needed to handle a case. It does indeed involve everyone in the organization and is a core customer experience challenge for contact center and customer service managers. And, last but not least, it requires an integration of different platforms.

Intelligence and insights, turning a flood of data into workflows to enable better customer experiences in an integrated and connected way. That’s the core challenge. So, who’s responsible?

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