As digital and technological development slip into sixth gear, the changes they bring are compelling companies in every sector to adapt. Evolving consumer attitudes and behaviours, the influence of technology on customer experience (CX) and the continuous innovation that transforms markets all need addressing.
Here, Nick Barbeary, Director of Consumer & Commercial Brands at Paragon Customer Communications (PCC), examines what companies in the digital age need to do to manage change, transform communications and deliver superior CX.
Changing attitudes and behaviours
Technological innovation and wider availability have driven substantial change in consumer attitudes and behaviour. More people are online and with a growing range of devices, platforms and channels to tempt them, stay connected for longer. Today, any company that wishes to keep pace and stay relevant has little choice but to seek digital adoption. Without it, they will be unable to take advantage of its opportunities and be left on the starting grid as their competitors speed off down the digital highway.
While profound enhancements in CX are some of the major technological boons for consumers, what brands need to be cognizant of is that those enhancements have transformed consumer attitudes, making them increasingly experience-led and giving them high expectations when it comes to personalisation, transparency and individual preference. To meet those expectations, brands must enhance CX by delivering more positive and meaningfulexperiences – and to have any chance of achieving that, adopting a communications system that facilitates digital transformation is essential.
Spoilt for choice
Technological innovation doesn’t just bring new functionality and features; it also offers consumers greater choice. Today, they are spoilt for choice when it comes to communicating, interacting and engaging, having access to apps, emails, smart speakers, chatbots, websites, text messaging and more. And let’s not forget the traditional channels that many consumers still prefer, like printed communications.
If companies are to communicate effectively with consumers and deliver enhanced CX, they need to know what the customer’s preferred channels are and have the infrastructure to deliver messages via those channels. What makes this even more challenging is that, with so many choices available, preferences may change according to individual circumstance. A customer may use different channels depending on the device they are using, who they are communicating with and why, and what they are doing at the time.
Dealing successfully with such complexity requires a state of the art solution. Today, this is to be found in the latest customer communications management (CCM) systems. Their cutting-edge technologies play a critical role in shaping consumer engagement and CX, enabling brands to connect with customers across the gamut of channels and do so in deeper, more meaningful ways.
Controlling and managing communications across the complex, omnichannel landscape is best achieved using a One Platform solution. Such an approach enables communications strategies to be run using a single, centralised, customer communications management delivery model while providing a delivery infrastructure capable of supporting truly frictionless customer communications across the spectrum of both digital and traditional channels,
By centralising control, not only can companies better manage the wider choice of channels; they can tighten the grip on inconsistency and off-brand messaging, improve efficiency and compliance, and minimise risk by rapidly implementing changes across all channels.
Adapting to innovation
To stay relevant and competitive, organisations must adapt quickly to new innovations. A crucial advantage of the One Platform approach is that its enabling technologies facilitate rapid transformation, delivering the agility businesses need to grasp opportunities and adapt to progressive changes in customer behaviour. For instance, when new communications channels are introduced, the latest CCM solutions can quickly and easily add them; and if messaging needs modification, it can be changed, in chorus, across every channel.
Furthermore, the speed at which change can be implemented and communications delivered improve speed to market, allowing companies to compete on equal footing with disruptors. This includes those in traditional sectors, like utilities and financial services, where digitally astute new entrants are compelling transformation among competitors.
If helping organisations adapt to innovation is one of the chief advantages of the centralised approach, its other critical benefit is enabling innovation. For example, the digital conversion technologies of the modern CCM system can create electronic versions of paper documents and store them centrally to improve document management and security.
In the digital age, data underpins innovation. A fundamental feature of the centralised approach is that it unifies data across all touch points, allowing companies to map customer journeys and provide solutions that are better suited to the preferences, circumstances and needs of customers. By providing individual customer profiles, for instance, it offers critical insights into consumer behaviour so that products and services can be developed which deliver real value for customers and improve CX. This includes helping organisations facilitate customer channel preferences, the types of messages they receive and when they like to receive them.
Having the right technology in place is only part of the solution. Crucial, too, is expertise. Today, many organisations gain significant benefit from working alongside an experienced communications partner whose technical solutions and sector expertise can help drive their digital transformation and empower CX managers to capitalise on new opportunities.