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Beyond CRM: Gaining foundational capabilities that build CX advantage

INSIGHT ARTICLE  | 

Customer experience (CX) is grounded in orchestrating exceptionally good experiences for customers during every interaction they have with you. It’s often described as “customer journey optimization,” and it includes mapping, managing, evaluating and constantly improving the customer experience through behavioral analysis, predictive analytics, e-commerce and other capabilities.

CX is a top-of-mind concern for business leaders these days because an effective CX strategy is essential to stay relevant with today’s mix of in-person and digital channels. A recent survey of corporate board members found that 84% said “improving customer experience” is the primary objective for their organization’s pursuit of digital technologies.

As commerce has moved from the physical realm to digital, however, the rules of engaging and serving customers have become more complex. Mapping out the journey is more challenging, and businesses must be able to anticipate customer needs and respond with personalized content and services. In some cases, this requires new applications and IT infrastructure, but it’s important to start with strategy.

Begin with strategy

A successful CX strategy is about more than customer-centric technology. Without a strategy, other efforts won’t return optimal benefits. Simply dropping customer information into a database and sharing it with people doesn’t guarantee results. For example, e-commerce and omnichannel capabilities could be a significant part of a retail company’s strategy, but a non-profit university might have a different approach.

Regardless of the industry or approach, however, the objective is to better understand customers in order to boost engagement and sales.

One company that has blazed a path to better CX is Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the third-largest wine company in the United States. The business recognized a need for an omnichannel framework with greater visibility into customer behavior. After deploying Microsoft Dynamics 365 for customer engagement and revamping some of its processes, the company gained the ability to manage brands in a unified way, interact with customers more creatively across channels and allow guests to select and ship wines from the tasting room floor.

The result: a near 100% spike in e-commerce.

The right technology can jumpstart CX

Synergy doesn’t just happen. An organization must choose the right solutions so that it’s possible to operate the business efficiently and serve clients effectively. Also, just because an application is related to customer service doesn’t mean that it delivers the tools, features and capabilities an organization requires for its unique needs. Top-performing organizations use cloud applications and platforms such as Microsoft Customer Insights, Adobe CX and Salesforce to deliver a powerful real-time CX technology framework.

With structured and disciplined workflows, it’s possible to turbocharge CX through surveys, data analytics tools, machine learning and technologies that tap artificial intelligence (AI). The right framework can contextualize and personalize customer experiences while enabling far more advanced content creation, marketing clouds and sales frameworks.

For example, The Goddard School, consistently named as one of the top childcare franchises in the United States, needed to streamline interactions across 470 franchised schools in 37 states. This included simplifying franchise applications, which required numerous documents. In the past, the process was mired in paperwork and manual steps; lost documents and errors were common.

After coming up with a new strategy that included moving to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform with a franchise development portal, the company trimmed tasks that had previously required weeks to days and even hours. Now, employees spend more time on strategic tasks, and Goddard School has experienced an uptick in sales.

Infrastructure makes advanced CX possible

Scalable, high-availability infrastructure is at the center of a CX framework designed for digital interaction. Such a framework can tie together channels, monitor social media for sentiment changes, support predictive analytics, handle A/B testing and tackle myriad other functions. Moreover, the functionality can connect regions, offices and teams so that it’s possible for everyone to stay in sync. This translates into a more consistent customer experience and improved brand quality.

Whether it’s a clothing retailer with a focus on customer personas and cultural awareness, or a field-services firm looking to establish first-call resolution, the framework can unlock insights that fuel superior CX.

Priority Bicycles has ridden CX to greater success. The company, which focuses on high-quality, low-maintenance bicycles, recognized that data was meaningless unless it was functional. It worked with a partner to implement an ERP system that would connect physical stores and e-commerce—and tap AI-driven virtual assistance to drive deep customer insights and automated fraud detection.

All of the company’s data is now in one place, making it easy to understand customer desires and translate this 360-degree view into marketing and sales success. In five years, Priority Bicycles has grown from a garage with a local presence to a 7,000-square-foot New York City showroom and an international presence. The company is agile, flexible and equipped for digital business.

It can be difficult to know where to begin and what path to take with CX. Partnering with a business- and tech-savvy partner that understands CX and the requirements of specific industries can be a wise choice for midmarket companies. Taking this step can help transform the opportunity of CX into tangible results.

Today companies face a constant need to upgrade customer service. One successful option for midmarket companies is outsourcing customer support functions to a reliable partner. Find out more in this article.

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