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Panelists Take a Hard Look at What Customer Engagement Means Today

August 13, 2014

Today’s businesses face increasing challenges for customer engagement and service, as consumers expect excellence across all channels. But before businesses tackle these new obstacles, it’s important to understand exactly what service-level expectations exist in today’s market.

In the Wednesday morning session at ITEXPO (News - Alert) entitled “Multimodal Customer Engagement: Because All Your Customers Aren’t the Same,” Mike Kropidlowski, Director of Product Marketing at Aspect (News - Alert) Software, said he believes that oftentimes the terms multimodal, multichannel and omnichannel blend together and are used interchangeably. He feels, however, that a true omnichannel experience is about having information follow customers as they switch channels, something very few companies do well at the moment.

“The Most important aspect of omnichannel is making sure that customers don’t have to repeat themselves,” he said during the panel session. “I think that’s a true differentiator.”

Richard McFarland, President and CEO for Voice4Net, echoed that sentiment in saying that nothing is more frustrating to a customer than typing information into an automated system, being transferred to an agent and then having to start over again.

“It’s really all about providing a pleasant customer experience,” he said.

In discussing some of the issues businesses still face in providing seamless omnichannel service, Kropidlowski cited a recent personal experience. Staying in hotel in Texas, he downloaded an app built to help customers check out on their mobile phones. Kropidlowski decided to check out at the hotel desk, but 90 minutes later he received a text asking him if he was ready to check out. When he clicked on the app to see what would happen, he found it asked for login information that included his rewards number, which he didn’t know by heart and didn’t have on him.

“You know who the customer is, why are you asking me for my information?” he said. “That’s why a lot of customers choose self-service. They say ‘Look, I just want to get this thing done. I don’t want to go through a dissertation of all my information.’”

McFarland and Kropidlowski also discussed customer loyalty at length during the panel. Both professionals said that customers actually don’t want to leave a company.

“People desire to stay with a single service provider,” McFarland said. “They want to do business with one company, and it’s just a because of convenience. As vendors we have to focus on that piece.”

“Customers want to be loyal, but they know what a really good customer experience is,” Kropidlowski added. “The ability for customers to move to someone else is very real. At a certain point, if I’m not treated well I will move on.”

And of course, both McFarland and Kropidlowski discussed the pressure on businesses now created by the explosion of new devices and the expectation from customers that they’ll be able to reach a company at any time of day, from anywhere, on any channel.

“People wanting to interact with companies 24/7 has really changed the way companies need to approach when they make themselves available,” Kropidlowski said.

And perhaps the most critical ingredient in top-notch customer engagement and service is participation from all departments. Rather than operating in a silo, contact center agents, sales representatives, account managers and everyone in between needs to be pulling in the same direction.

“If everybody across the organization feels they have a seat at the table, it’s more likely to work,” Kropidlowski said. “And it’s better for the customer.”




Edited by Adam Brandt

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