In a relatively short period of time the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic has changed the very face of customer experience (CX). In these times of crisis, customers now expect more compelling, relevant and timely engagement than ever before. But what does great CX look like in reality? And how can today’s businesses live up to and meet customers ever-escalating expectations?

Having a critical understanding of customers, and learning from their unique behaviours has always been fundamental to the success of CX. Now more than ever, however – with evolving customer expectations and an acute need to forge deeper long-lasting relationships – it is arguably the greatest asset to have in the mission to deliver truly customer-centric transformation.

Chief Customer Officers (CCOs) and customer experience leaders now have a unique opportunity to position themselves at the forefront of the longer-term transitions in consumer behaviour that result from this crisis. Doing so, nonetheless, will require a fundamental change in the way enterprises operate in order to create convenient, customer-centric, data-intuitive front office products and services, each underpinned by effective back office systems.

Exposing the cracks

Unfortunately the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the resultant endeavours of CX leaders to innovate and rapidly embrace change, has exposed once hidden cracks in many organisations’ internal structures. At the onset of the pandemic this was acutely apparent, as many businesses failed to deploy increasingly advanced technologies and communications channels in time meet the requirements of dramatically changing customer journeys.

While there are certainly many underlying barriers that can hinder enterprises’ transition towards truly intuitive CX, there are fundamental areas that, without attention, could significantly encumber progressive change. Principle to these, particularly for those organisations that have grown through acquisition, is the multitude of legacy systems already in place.

Convoluted IT frameworks and legacy systems often fail to provide the adequate delivery infrastructure to support heavily data-rich CX strategies and customer communications management (CCM) delivery models. What’s more, such systems are typically not suited to accommodate rapid and widespread changes across all of the communication channels in modern customer journeys.

As a result, what we have seen from many businesses over the course of the pandemic is that, while significant improvements have been made to CX on digital channels such as web, social and mobile – largely due to their perceived importance in the ‘new normal’ and ease of modification – traditional channels like print have been somewhat neglected.

And while enhanced digital touchpoints, almost inevitably, have become a key enabler for driving positive customer interactions in a post-Covid world, what many CX professionals have failed to realise is they should not be the sole focus of innovation. It is fundamental that enterprises do not lose sight of the core channels – both digital and traditional – that form their distinctive customer journeys.

By failing to centralise all communication platforms, and embrace change across every critical touchpoint, organisations undoubtedly put their future at risk as they struggle to maintain competitiveness in the ‘new normal’. Indeed, organisations run the very real danger of missing key customer engagement points and having siloed communication channels. This can lead to customer journey disconnect, a particularly damaging prospect given 58 percent of consumers claim they feel like they’re communicating with separate departments and not one company across multiple touchpoints as a result.

A cohesive ecosystem

It is crucial that an effective CX strategy is underpinned by a cohesive eco-system of leading-edge technologies. Employing a single, centralised system of this nature will not only provide the delivery infrastructure to support truly frictionless customer communications, but also unify previously disjointed communications technologies across the breadth of an organisation.

Particularly critical in these times of crisis, where customer journeys have transformed virtually instantaneously, is a centralised view of how an organisation communicates with their customers which makes deploying changes across all channels much easier.

As digitally-driven strategies prevail – and data becomes increasingly pivotal to pushing CX strategies forward in new directions – the unified view of existing customer data can present myriad benefits. Not only can it lead to a critical understanding of customers’ unique behaviours, preferences and their stage in the customer journey, but also communication strategies that are engrained with customer-relevant messages and incisive targeting.

Naturally, while being equipped with the most appropriate technologies and tools will position CX professionals strongly for the post-pandemic landscape, they must also be empowered with the knowledge to be the driving force behind their organisation’s CX transformation.

It is in this regard that the capabilities of an experienced customer communications partner – much like an external marketing agency – can offer significant value.

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