While it sounds easy, it actually isn’t. Not only do the channels/media have to be made available in multiple places all the time (and that means among other things, cross-channel and cross-media integration), but in order to provide the customers with what they need to make those decisions on their present and future interactions, you have to have an idea of what outcomes the customer is seeking from you—and that’s not generic customer so-and-so, but a specific customer.
That means you need to know enough about that individual to give them enough meaningful options to act on, to get to the outcomes they seek.
That’s what makes a company customer-centric, or in my terminology, customer-engaged. I define customer engagement in my newest book, “The Commonwealth of Self-Interest,” as, “The ongoing interactions between company and customer, offered by the company, chosen by the customer.”
This means that the customer is getting the kinds of personalized options from the company that allow him or her to make those decisions, and they are offers that the company can actually afford to make.
For example, Triple-A bond rated Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka’s 8 million customers strong telco, is among the best in the world in how they engage. They see their communications network in service of Sri Lankan’s lifestyles and build out their infrastructure accordingly.
In the course of their nearly daily customer journey tracking, they found that they had a large number of pregnant women on their network. They found after further investigation that those women had a strong desire to be able to ask medical doctors routine questions on their pregnancies without having to travel to the doctor, made difficult by the fact that the roads In Sri Lanka are bad and the women are pregnant.
Dialog Axiata’s answer was to create a shortcode service that, for a small fee, would allow the moms-to-be access to a licensed practitioner to answer the questions via the phone after you scheduled the time and date via text. Customers got the outcomes they wanted, and the company was well within their means to provide the service— a service offering that never would have surfaced if they hadn’t been constantly tracking the engagement of their customer base.
Think about it though. The communications infrastructure to do this isn’t a given. You need a scalable SMS system, a microservices development infrastructure, a SaaS-based payment system, a phone system, and multiple other technologies to record and analyze the interactions and provide the insights to continually improve the system.
That’s the tip of the iceberg because you also have to monitor and track the journeys of their customers, which means understand the behaviors not just of segments but of individual customers, to even have the insight to come up with the offering.
This is an advanced communications infrastructure, one that you would expect a progressive telco to have—and as you can see, one that fosters successful customer engagement. It meets the tenets of what drives great engagement today:
- It supports conversations between the company and the customers and among the customers;
- It is focused on customer outcomes being the determinant of company actions;
- It uses data to surface the potential outcomes and analytics to provide the knowledge to get the insights which help drive the results—the programs that give the customers the outcomes they seek;
- They are customer-engaged, which means that the systems, technology, culture, operations, strategies, etc., are focused on making sure that the customers have what they need to interact with the company at the level they want to interact.
Note that this is the communications infrastructure that can drive successful customer engagement today. But equally as interesting is what is it the foundation for in the future? Later on, in this series, I’ll take a look at what the future could hold when a company has a communications platform in place.
Learn more about bridging the communications divide, and stay tuned for more in our series on the future of communications platforms.