The growth of social media has done great things to improve and encourage interaction between companies and customers, but one challenge businesses now face it incorporating all those channels into one cohesive experience. About fifty percent of social media users report sending customer service inquiries across social media and thirty percent of national brands boast a customer service presence on Twitter. The number of companies who received more than one quarter of their inquiries through social media doubled from nine to eighteen percent in 2013. Nobody is under any illusion that number is going to decrease.
Yet only thirty-six percent of customers who make inquiries through social media report their issue being solved well. Analysts at Sentiment Metrics point out that “This is probably due to the fact that marketing and PR departments remain the dominant force in social media, but are not equipped to deal with many customer enquiries.”
Busy consumers see their experience with one company as one large picture while too often companies treat consumers like puzzles, broken up into pieces that are recorded in separate files for retail, online sales, service, and marketing. Since the customer is always right (or at least valuable) it’s important for businesses to view the experience like the customer. After making a purchase, no customer should have to repeat their name, address or product information when they call, tweet or message for support. In fact, the company who can provide that information back to them will stand out, perceived as “caring” whether that’s the case or not.
One developer of customer experience management software has been working to help companies integrate the entire customer service experience, and now they’re expanding even farther to include commerce functions. Sitecore, who offers a customer engagement platform that pulls together web content, digital marketing, and legacy applications has partnered with Microsoft Dynamics powerful omni-channel commerce system. Darren Guarnaccia, Chief Strategy Officer for Sitecore, remarked on the partnership, “In the increasingly competitive e-commerce landscape, retailers need to make customer experiences seamless across every channel where they interact, and personally relevant whether they are in the store, or online anywhere.” The omni-channel shopper is the purchasing side of the multi-channel customer. They purchase in-store, through mobile, on the Internet and by catalog. But no matter how they make their purchase, they see themselves as just one customer and expect the company to see them that way too.
I experienced just one small subset of this connected consumer experience having purchased a tablet at a large retail store in my home state. While traveling a few weeks later I needed to return the tablet and took it, without the receipt, to a branch of the retail chain where they were able to look up my transaction and do the return. That kind of simplicity will earn my loyalty and business.
As an industry customer service has been working hard to integrate the experience across channels, now with alliances like this between Microsoft and Sitecore, there may be more improvement toward connecting the entire customer experience.