• March 3, 2022
  • By Marc Stoll , president and chief operating officer, Nextiva

4 Best Practices for Knowing Your Customers as Well as They Know You

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Today, customer satisfaction is stagnant, customer churn increasing, operating environments are complicated by too much software and too many applications, employees are frustrated, and customer loyalty is rapidly declining.

Most managers could tell you why. The problems with current customer engagement and CRM tools are clear and plentiful:

They are expensive and adoption is low. Around one-third of all CRM projects fail. A big reason why is that less than 37 percent of sales reps actually use their company’s CRM system, and 83 percent of senior executives say their biggest challenge was getting staff to use the software.

Information is incomplete and out of date. Typically, salespeople manually add information into CRM tools. But those users are biased, wanting to represent the relationship in the best possible light. In addition, the data is outdated as soon as it is entered. These tools can’t keep up with vital, in-the-moment sentiment and shifting customer needs.

True integration is lacking. While integration tools are available, they are costly and often require consultants with advanced skill sets to help knit together solutions. Plus, they rarely create true integration.

In addition, many engagement and CRM systems don’t work seamlessly with other sources of customer insight, leaving you with siloed information. They also don’t allow for cross-company collaboration, which is a must-have for today’s customer-first world.

In short, businesses are stuck in a rut of outdated processes, burdensome tools, and a framework of customer experience that puts their needs at the center, not the customer’s needs. 

The New Table Stakes: Reciprocal Relationships, Long-Term Engagement, and Reduced Churn

It’s often said that customers have high expectations. That’s true but misses an important point. 

Customers want their time and effort respected. They want empathetic and supportive experiences. That’s why Amazon, Apple, Capital One, and other giants of customer experience have adopted a model that ensures they know, understand, and remember all of their customers. So how can companies provide exceptional customer service and win with their most valuable constituency? Here are four best practices:

Eliminate silos and put insights into the hands and minds of employees. This means breaking down the walls that exist between your customer engagement tools by consolidating your applications. It means stop putting data into buckets and truly integrate data streams. And it means allowing your entire organization to see and access the same customer information by managing conversations – voice, text, email, chat – from a single place.

Empower all internal teams to work together to serve customers. Organizations need to prioritize a customer-first approach that goes beyond customer service teams. When everyone can see, manage, and share incoming information from a single source, the customer becomes the focus. Issues are identified and solved faster; aligning around improvements and initiatives becomes easier; and teams get more efficient and confident.  

Make customer management tools more usable. Start by reducing app switching with a consolidated system. Then integrate communication data directly into that tool so every team has an instant and complete picture of every customer. With rich customer insights and actual conversations at their fingertips, team members can access the context they need the moment they need it, specific to their role.

Automate everything that can be automated. Modern communication and engagement tools can eliminate many manual tasks in the customer journey so your teams can focus on the conversations that can drive satisfaction and loyalty. Automation opportunities include intelligent workflows for core processes, escalation messages based on sales and service workflows, trigger-based customer notifications for sending the right message at the right moment, and personalized surveys and tutorials.

Your Business Is at a Customer-Engagement Crossroads

Today’s customers are no longer comparing you to your direct competitors—they’re comparing you with the best experiences they’ve ever had as consumers. They want intuitiveness, simplicity, and flexibility. They want to be remembered and understood. And they deserve what they want.

The best practices described above will help ensure you deliver on that customer imperative and build strong and long-lasting customer relationships.

Marc Stoll joined Nextiva in 2019 as president and chief operating officer. He is responsible for leading Nextiva’s global operations in support of the company’s rapid growth. Stoll possesses a deep understanding of the technology industry due to his tenure at companies including Apple, CA, Compaq, and, most recently, Anaplan. Marc has served on several public and private boards, including Arista Networks, EarthLink, and Windstream.

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