Driving change: the shift from CRM to CX

Driving change: the shift from CRM to CX

Customers demand more from brands than ever before. Businesses need to provide a unified experience across all engagements, starting from the very first time an individual encounters a brand. Suvish Viswanathan, Senior Evangelist for Zoho Europe, explains how prioritising personalisation is vital to meet the developing expectations.

Delivering high quality customer experience (CX) is a major priority for businesses in recent years, as global online competition has become fiercer and customer demand has shifted. In this climate, technology has become centre stage as an essential tool in delivering high quality experiences that excite existing and prospective customers and deliver real value to the bottom line.

Recent shifts include Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems expanding to a customer experience (CX) platform, encompassing more than just managing interactions, but instead focusing on how a customer feels about a brand over time and having their voice/feedback as a driver to change. It involves providing a unified experience across all engagements and departments, starting from an individual’s very first encounter with a brand or business.

Recent research from PwC found that 31% of CMOs are finding changing consumer expectations or preferences as a key issue while 37% cited meeting expectations is a top three business priority.

The shift to CX

The pandemic accelerated the focus on CX, forcing businesses to provide self-service options for customers, meaning increasing their investment into their self-service stack. This shift also highlighted the key role technology will play in providing enhanced experiences.

As customer demands rapidly evolve, prioritising personalisation is vital to meet the developing expectations and such technology has become a primary consideration in strategic planning.

As a recent study by Zoho Corporation highlights, 71% of business leaders find retaining customers challenging, meaning a revised approach to customer experience is needed by many organisations hoping to succeed.

Personalisation and customisation

Simply offering products or services that trump the competition will no longer guarantee success. In fact, managing a consumer’s experience from the moment they acknowledge or interact with a brand, all the way through to post-purchase is now vital.

Businesses should strive for every interaction to have a positive impact upon a customer’s perception of a brand and create a meaningful experience, reflective of an organisation’s values.

Gone are the days where consumers are provided with one universal experience. Now, consumers demand more, expecting a more personalised and customised experience, tailored to their specific needs and wants.

For companies, the key to this is gaining a thorough and in-depth understanding of their customer base, and this includes every demographic that this encompasses. The right platform can bring the voice of customers from various channels, analyse them and provide recommendations for businesses to make informed changes to enhance the experience, of both customers and employees.

A recent article by Forbes highlights that Gen Z show lower levels of customer satisfaction regarding their customer experiences, with just 50% satisfaction compared to 71% for the previous generation.

Customers cannot be bunched into one overarching category and regarded as having the same expectations. A multitude of variables, such as their age and generation, can impact this and businesses must work with the data that is now available to understand and adapt.

The role of technology

Technology has developed at an exceptional pace and it now holds a vital role in many organisations, offering huge business benefits, including data analysis. However, having a strategy to implement the right technology is important. Several customer experience projects fail to take off because of poor selection and planning.

With so many touchpoints, channels and tools in place, businesses must thrive to unify the tools so that teams can have a single source of truth and can function together.

In my keynote at our annual user conference, Zoholics UK 2023, I talked on CRM and CX in light of a recent Zoho survey that revealed 41% of European firms had trouble with CX because of poor technology and scattered visibility. This is due to fragmented systems, which make it difficult to gain a full view of client interactions, data and performance.

Improving visibility across information and activities will enable businesses to coordinate the use of software and emerging technologies to help deliver an improved CX.

Software has enabled a large amount of personalisation. As customers demand a more tailored service, AI can play a role here to comb through large sets of data, analyse customer behaviour, intent, emotions and other signals, improving the effectiveness of personalisation, allowing businesses to meet rising expectations.

With the use of omnichannel communication platforms, collaboration and communication can be enhanced, between business and customer, as well as internally between different departments and teams.

Businesses can now offer their customers multiple ways of connecting, via multiple channels, all while centralising information that empowers teams to have contextual, meaningful conversations with prospects and throughout the customer journey.

Ultimately, the rise in technology has offered new and enhanced possibilities for businesses and subsequently, customers want these benefits to be capitalised upon to ensure their experience is seamless. Important to note here is the platform should adapt to the changing nature of your business and not the other way around.

Employee experience and customer experience

Technology has also paved the way for an optimal employee experience (EX),

As digital natives filter through into businesses, they will eventually drive the culture of their respective organisations. Being digitally proficient, they have been facilitating the adoption of technology in everyday employee experiences. Employees look for similar experience from their 9 to 5 business apps as they get from their 5 to 9 consumer apps. Customisable interface, easy access to required information, access to mobile apps and faster learning curves are important factors in determining the experience and successful implementation of the platform.

Communication platforms will allow customer facing teams to connect and ensure important information is relayed in a timely and efficient manner. They allow employees to provide instant updates, collaborate on projects and provide feedback with ease.

Technology will further drive employee experience in the coming years which will, in turn, promote a more unified customer experience.

Data privacy

In recent times, we have seen the topic of data privacy cement itself within conversations, and businesses must now weigh up the use of innovative technologies that drive data-powered business benefits, such as improved CX and the privacy of their customers.

As data has become a more prominent business tool within organisations, consumers have become more wary of how their data is being collected, used and stored.

Consumers are increasingly vigilant, and privacy is now well placed to be a top priority for customers. Businesses must ensure proper data protection policies are in place and the recent study from Zoho Corporation shows that almost a third of business leaders are citing data privacy as their top business concern.

While data-driven insights can help to improve CX, businesses will only reap the benefits if they have clear and transparent policies in place, giving customers complete control over how their data is being collected and used, ensuring a competitive but sustainable approach.

Customers do not just want a shiny new toy in the form of a product or service, but instead want an enjoyable and trustworthy experience, from start to end.

Businesses must now work to improve their CX strategies by using the offerings of technology. It will involve a balancing act of increasing personalisation, promoting a technology-driven culture, all while ensuring consumers and their data are kept safe and secure.

Those who successfully deploy a robust CX strategy will see a loyal customer base grow, a culture based on unified values develop and ultimately, business growth promoted.

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