As we approach the end of the first quarter of the year, what key trends are defining customer engagement in 2016?
We’ve already alluded to developments in the CRM space over the next period in previous posts – characterised by more focused, niche offerings, the opportunity for wearable tech and customer data – so here are some further thoughts on where we think these and other changes will happen over the next nine months and beyond.
Social media engagement
Oracle Service Cloud has committed to a number of developments that connect data and activity on social media platforms with what can be accessed and collated via CRM activity. The challenge this presents is how we can make it easier for customers to utilise these platforms to connect with organisations and also peers, and know that they’re being aided and responded to just as efficiently. As with so much new technology, enabling seamless connectivity with the customer via any channel of choice will continue to be vital for development and improvement; CRM is no exception.
Growth in self-service
Even though we talk about the importance of having a ‘human’ connection available at the end of the phone or via email, SMS or webchat, there are also times when the customer is happy to self-serve and find their own resolutions. This functionality will continue to grow and develop this year as the customer has even less time to wait for advisers to be available, along with developments in peer connection and support. We’re all becoming much more savvy and collaborative online, so it’s a natural progression in many ways, for people to help each other more and benefit from others’ expertise.
As smartphones overtake laptop use in the UK and 4G connectivity is enabling us to do more on the move, CRM access and use will need to improve on this platform too. Successful app development to ensure both customers and advisers can engage via mobiles will be key. Download speeds of up-to-date data will mean sales teams can access customer details in ‘real-time’ at all times, in all locations (dependent on connectivity speeds of course).
Being able to access the latest customer data, from usage rates to service tickets and information on the latest relevant products, will all be useful pre-engagement, whether via a mobile call, through a remote contact centre adviser or a customer site visit.
The Internet of Things (IoT) will also continue to affect the collection of useful data in terms of volume and frequency, so that organisations will be able to respond in much more specific, time-sensitive ways.
The types of developments we can expect to see from IoT technology will include automated notifications for sales support, billing processes and ordering. Further down the line we’ll see more and more data that will also fuel predictive analytics, ultimately allowing organisations to look at customers in an even more detailed way that identifies and tracks customer habits, with the results including real-time responses and further resolution personalisation.
Brands and organisations want to be able to predict customer behaviour and supply them with what they want or need, before they even know themselves. CRM will continue to further embrace the opportunities (and challenges) of these new technologies.
What all of these trends have in common is a complete 360-degree view of the customer to better inform engagement, responses and resolution, whether it’s via the web, social media platforms or a contact centre.
The notion of 360-degree customer profiling and understanding is not a new concept, in fact it’s been spoken about in CRM terms for decades. But how the future will differ is that the 360-degree element will be more complete and accurate.
When we access a customer’s details, or engage with them via social, it won’t simply be to gather information they’ve supplied in response to a product or service, it will also allow us to make a judgement about the sort of influence they might have on other potential customers via their own social feeds. Our customers are now filling in a large part of their 360-degree profile themselves online. How we harness that and respond to it will shape what CRM will look like in future.