What are the trends shaping end-to-end customer experience?

In a world that is becoming increasingly online-focused, have a strong and highly developed end-to-end customer experience is becoming a must-have.

In a recent whitepaper, Smart Communications highlighted five key trends that are shaping modern end-to-end customer experience and why they are so important. The trends not only highlighted where the industry is today, but where it is likely to go in the future.

The first trend was that enterprises will double down on building and nurturing trust with customers. With the ongoing pandemic, supply chain disruptions and data security concerns, stress is at a high level for many of the customers of the today. Because of this, it is becoming ever more important for enterprises to inbuild a sense of trust and find new avenues to support their customers.

Smart Communications said, “While a majority of businesses across the insurance, financial services and healthcare industries believe they have leveraged communications to build trust throughout the pandemic, only around a quarter of consumers indicated that communications have made them trust companies more. For this reason, customer trust is becoming an increasingly important metric to measure.”

How can enterprises ensure that are gaining and maintaining trust with their customers? According to the firm, when it comes down to it, many of the customers of today want to feel assured that the company they work with have their best interests in mind, especially when it comes to how their data is being used. Smart Communications CTO Simon Tindal elaborated, “Enterprises must demonstrate to their customers that the data they have is providing an excellent customer experience and is being used in a way that informs future interactions.”

In this area, it is ultimately about balancing data security with delivering the tailored interactions that customers expect, said Smart Communications. To achieve this balance, enterprises are recommended to invest in and optimise their technology stacks – with pure-cloud, multi-tenant solutions cited to allow for this level of individualisation while also providing robust data security measures.

Customers expecting to be guided through experiences was the second trend noted in the whitepaper. According to the firm, customers today overwhelmingly prefer and expect digital-first interactions – with the ease and efficiency of digital experiences hard to beat.

Despite the popularity of digital interactions, there is still work to be done on the technologies that power the self-guided interactions. According to Aspire senior research analyst Will Morgan, “While digital adoption has exploded, digital communications today do not embrace the true interaction these consumers expect or that advanced platforms make possible.” Morgan added that the enterprises that focus on unlocking the potential for meaningful interactions digitally will be best positioned to boost customer loyalty, improve retention and maximise customer lifetime value.

A need to inform future interactions based on previous behaviours is a key factor in building loyalty and requires firms to tap into customer data. However, Smart Communications underlined that there is a fine line between welcomed personalisation and going too far.

Tindal remarked, “We can’t put people in boxes anymore. You have to use the data you have on individual customers and be agile and flexible when their preferences shift.”

Smart Communications said, “At the end of the day, it’s important to identify certain processes that can be optimised quickly to provide near-immediate results. Look for processes where all parties (both enterprise and customer) will benefit and begin automating where possible. Businesses that prioritise automating the end-to-end customer experience to provide personalised, helpful interactions will be the ones to come out on top.

The third trend is that enterprises will need to focus on future-proofing their companies. Many companies today are facing disruptions at all levels, with new channels, regulatory requirements and new competitors all creating new challenges for businesses. With this considered, its clear for many firms that enterprises need to future-proof for whatever could be next.

The thought leaders who were interviewed for the whitepaper cited digital business acceleration, de-silo critical business functions and technology ecosystems and integrations as the three key areas where enterprises should focus their efforts.

Smart Communications said, “The global pandemic forced many enterprises to condense multiyear digital transformation strategies into a short timeframe. As the world continues to navigate the pandemic and its implications, enterprises need to examine these processes that they quickly put into place to ensure they are set up for the long term.”

With some businesses still relying on manual, outdated processes, the whitepaper suggested that one key area of focus in both the near-and-long term should be breaking down silos between internal business units and stakeholders. In addition, the whitepaper outlined that the most effective way enterprises can future-proof their businesses is to invest in and prioritise technology solutions that evolve and scale as customer expectations change over time.

Another key trend found is that customers are increasing expecting businesses to prioritise social responsibility. In this key area, ESG is becoming an increasing prescient factor for all key stakeholders. Internal research by Smart Communications, for example, found that nearly one-third of consumers indicated they preferred digital interactions due to them being more sustainable.

Smart Communications added that to move forward with ESG in mind, enterprises must focus on both employees and technology, especially as it relates to diversifying the workforce and ensuring compliance.

The company said, “As multiple industries face significant amounts of employee turnover at the same time that employee work preferences shift, it’s critical for enterprises to invest in technologies that support flexible work environments. This means meeting employees where they are and creating flexible, remote work environments where employees have more control over their schedules and responsibilities.”

The final trend is that a digital-first mindset underlies transformation. Smart Communications remarked, “It’s clear that given current trends, the only way to truly succeed moving forward is to adopt a digital-first approach. For businesses that already have begun their digital journeys, it is important to continue to evolve and create more sophisticated digital experiences – maturing and scaling over time.”

The whitepaper underlined that a successful digital-first approach must be customer-centered. Enterprises need to shift from isolated, disjointed transactions to continuous, omnichannel conversations.

Smart Communications said, “Effective omnichannel orchestration enables organizations to add digital channels to their print efforts, automate common customer interactions, effectively promote two-way conversations and more. With two-way messaging across multiple digital channels, businesses can strategically orchestrate conversations across the end-to-end customer experience, ensuring that approved, compliant communications are delivered in real time and initiated when the customer demands it.”

Read the full whitepaper here.

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