Welcome to 2018. Surprise: it’s all about the customer

OpenMarket – January 18, 2018

Here’s a safe bet: 2018 will be the year CX plays its biggest role yet in dividing the top-performing organizations from the ones falling behind.

Welcome to 2018. Whatever else this year brings; one thing is certain: excellent customer experience will be one of the most defining characteristics of a successful organization.

According to Oisin Lunny, Chief Evangelist at OpenMarket, customer tolerance for bad experiences has dropped from 41% to 14% in just four years. That trend isn’t slowing – so this year, if you get it wrong, there are no second chances.

(And given that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, that ought to focus the mind a bit.)

But this shouldn’t be seen as a threat. It’s an opportunity. Organizations who get CX right are steaming ahead of the competition. They’re using the power of empathy, and empathetic interactions. These are communications sent at exactly the right time and place to give the customer what they need, just when they need it.

(At Virgin Trains, for example, they perform this brilliantly.)

 

Lines of communication are broken

The problem is, a lot of the traditional customer communication channels aren’t really fit for purpose. Email has an average open rate of 20%, and a dismal click through rate of 2%. Not surprising, when you discover 70% of all email in existence is spam.

You may be using an automated voice system, or a call center – but used in the wrong context, at the wrong moment with the wrong query, that’ll not only frustrate your customers, but cost you the earth too.

The truth is, each communications channel has strengths and weaknesses – but if your CX plans rely on your customer receiving information in the right place and at the right time, there’s one solution that’s fully equipped to deliver the goods: SMS.

 

Personal versus personalized: the difference is crucial

Personalized interactions are easy, that’s why everyone does it. Stick a customer’s name in an email and boom: it’s personalized. But the trouble is, customers are seeing through this. The result: personalization doesn’t feel, well, personal anymore.

In 2018, creating a personal interaction with your customer – that moment when they really know you’re thinking of them – takes more. It means taking the time to truly understand your customer; why they buy from you, what problems they have, and what they value from a brand.

That way, you’ll be in touch with their thoughts and emotions when they actually need you. Do this and they’re far more likely to come back.

 

Customers expect more. SMS delivers

Your customer’s time is precious. So precious in fact that today, they expect you to anticipate their needs, and take as much of the leg-work out of the customer experience as you can.

In years gone by, the focus has been mostly on the needs of the business. Customers were almost an afterthought. But now, organizations have access to vast oceans of data on their customers. The best brands are taking that opportunity to anticipate needs, and build one-to-one relationships wherever they are in the world.

Take abandoned shopping carts for example. Gone are the days where online shopping carts were lost in the ether. Now, customers expect their choices to be saved for their return, with a timely, non-spammy reminder. With SMS, it’s easy enough to send customers a friendly nudge that their cart is waiting for them to complete the transaction.

Not only does the customer get what they want, but those extra sales will be worth a pretty penny for the retailer too.

 

And it’s not just the customer who’ll benefit…

 

According to Belinda Parmar of The Empathy Business, a staggering 87% of employees are unhappy in their work, unproductive, and therefore unlikely to go out of their way for customers.

That means your internal communications are pivotal to your customer experience. A happy workforce speaks for itself.

And it’s why the best performing companies treat their staff as well as their customers – delivering empathetic interactions internally too. And it pays off: empathetic firms outperform their rivals by 50%.

By using SMS, teams can proactively plan (rather than randomly react), and work in a more efficient manner. The benefits are tenfold – good for their frame of mind and  a positive effect on productivity, meaning they’ll feel much better equipped to serve customers.

 

2018: the year of CX

This year, your main focus should be CX – but there’s no surprise there. To really thrive, empathy needs to take center stage in every bit of your customer’s journey.

But to make it happen, you need the right tools for the job. You need a blended approach to your communications with customers and staff – using the right channel at the right moment. And SMS absolutely needs to be part of that mix.

To learn more about how SMS can help you deliver truly personal, empathetic interactions, sign up for our webinar. And if you can’t wait, we’ve produced a guide to keep you going.

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