In 2019, businesses will pour a massive $1.5 trillion of their IT spend on “communications services” technologies, Gartner predicts. Across all kinds of organizations, managers are looking to add new platforms to expand their reach with customers and increase internal productivity.
Unfortunately, much of that money will be wasted.
After more than a decade of working with businesses of all sizes on their communications challenges, both external and internal, I am observing a growing number of problems that companies are facing with regard to how they engage their customers. Chief among them is how fractured this engagement has become.
Era of the Consumer
We’re experiencing a golden age for the customer. With tech giants like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon using algorithms and machine learning to tailor experiences to customer tastes, buyers have come to expect this kind of personalization.
They expect to be in the driver’s seat, determining when and how they use any channel for communicating with a business — from phone and email to online chats and forums, SMS, and various social media platforms and apps. A report by Microsoft found that 66% of consumers actively use at least three different communication channels to contact businesses.
Customers are well ahead of most businesses in this respect, using new tools more quickly than the businesses can adopt them and get their customer service teams up to speed. But even when companies do adopt these technologies in hopes of serving their customers, they often fail to use the tools harmoniously.
Managers all too often have no functional system for collecting customer information into a single repository. At every point of contact, consumers provide the business with valuable information. Businesses are getting inundated with data, but that data isn’t being gathered in a holistic way that provides managers with knowledge about the customer.
As a result, managers and businesses struggle to keep track of what customers are communicating across different platforms, which negatively affects the customer relationship.
Staying in the Loop With Your Customers’ Journeys
The last thing customers want is to have to re-explain something they’ve already discussed. They feel like strangers to the company. A business that lacks this knowledge about their customers sends the signal that they don’t really value them.