For the past 2 years i’ve been involved in myriads of projects around Customer Service, CRM*, Digital Customer Experience (DCX):
Leveraging All potential Channels and delivered via Cloud Models. It is clear to me that there are big opportunities in this field. Today i want to focus on potential opportunities for the StartUps & SMEs in these Purple** Oceans.
*CRM: Customer Relationship Management [System]. Soon to become “DRM”, as in, Digital Relationship Management [System, liaising customers, prospects, peers, suppliers, freelancers, and anyone or anyThing linked to a company].
**Purple Ocean: In between Blue (market yet to fully develop, green with opportunities) & Red (very competitive/killer environment) Ocean.
How can StartUps & SMEs offering Digital Customer Care as a Service type of solutions benefit from a stake of the corresponding IT/CRM/DCX lion’s share in the major league market landscape?
Before we jump into this question, let us first introduce a few ideas & concepts.
What does Digital Customer Care really mean?
A good example of Digital Customer Care would be allowing your customers and prospects to call your Company [via Audio and/or Video] directly from your website. Your customers’ browser is also a phone! How? By the means of the WebRTC protocol on Google/Firefox, ORTC [soon] on Internet Explorer & likely Edge, or perhaps via a proprietary software layer that could leverage these protocols and/or VoIP. Digital Customer Care is about allowing your customers to contact your company using the Digital Channels [FAQ, email, social, automatic & live chat, audio, video, mobile] they feel more comfortable with. For instance and clearly: your customers should be able to [Live] Chat with your company via your Website, Mobile-Site, Mobile-App.
Here are 3 Examples in which i’ve experienced that Digital Customer Care does make a tremendous difference while generating outstanding Customer Experiences:
- eSinister in Insurance;
- afterSales-Service in Telecom, Industry or Retail;
- eContract Update & Portfolio Simulation in Investment Banking.
A little [bit of hi]story : once upon a time, the “call center” and the so called customer service:
Call Centers [CC] have being going on forever: for more than 50 years! Customer Service’s [CS] been “outsourced” at the Call Center, while both [CC & CS] being considered/managed as a “Cost Center”, for too long. Companies have invested in callCenter, telecom and network infrastructures separate from the Business. Why? Because treating these matters separately would be more cost effective or so we thought. As a consequence, the Customer service Experience has been “siloed” from the company: a culture-legacy to tackle “ASAP”.
Why would the “call center” legacy bring issues to the Business side of things?
Established & Big Businesses, i.e.: companies making ~500M$ in yearly revenue, have all invested in Customer Service Set Ups, that are functional indeed. It would be costly to replace these call centers in a “big bang” fashion. Meanwhile, these enterprises all have digital presences, touch points on their Websites, Social Media, and likely on Mobile. The challenge here is to be able to “inter-connect” them in order to gain a holistic view on your Global Customer Service Performance while listening to the “Voice of Each Customer” [via Cross-Channel Analytics], and acting accordingly.
It’s not about Cost Management. It’s about Value/Revenue Creation:
One clear benefit of properly achieving what’s been mentioned in the previous point, is understanding “Who is The Customer/Prospect” in order for the Company to be able to offer tailored-care to each “Customer Persona” and this in turn, will enable the Customer Service shift from “cost center” to “profit center”. As a consequence, it should “unite” Marketing, Sales & Customer Service into joint efforts as a holistic key building block for business success.
Let’s take a couple of steps back, and try to point out how does the problem look like on a wide-angle lens:
The problematic: Businesses across industries are struggling to deliver “real omni-channel customer experience”.
Why is that?
Traditional IT Systems do not necessarily integrate seamlessly with frontSite/digitalTouch points. Think about it this way for instance: how well does your company telephony/callCenter system(s) integrates with your website or social channels?
Unless benefiting from a centralised infrastructure, or potentially a cloud one, Customer Data Systems might not share in Real Time the same or the most relevant information about a customer. For example: Marketing, Sales and Customer Service departments spread out in different locations and using On Premises Customer Data-Bases. [Aha! there’s another issue to tackle: the “department” concept!]
There also seems to be a “Mentality” factor that comes in: a phone channel experience seems more tedious than a digital (live chat) channel for example. In reality, this could be totally the opposite: the phone channel is a very warm channel, the customer is right “next” to you, the company can whisper in the client’s ear!
Do Customer Service Professionals seem more bored, or fed up with their job, in the phone channel than in digital channels? Isn’t a good time to open the skill set for all of these Customer Care Agents who are so critical in every business’ daily basis? From now on, we’ll talk about Contact Center (not only call center) and we believe that Customer Service Agents should become (and be trained as) MultiChannel Customer Care Gurus.
What does “real omni-channel customer experience” actually mean?
A theoretical view: from Digital Online to Digital in-Store, a coherent, traceable, and managed Prospect or Customer Development Experience. A practicable view may include the following:
- eSinister in Insurance: From the whole eSinister Process to Reimbursement and/or Damage Repairing Service.
- eServices in Automotive: From the Digital Customisation of a Rent a Car Service Online to its Pick Up On-Site, including notifications on multiple devices, reminders prior pick up and instructions to follow on the very pick up date.
Why is it a good time for StartUps & SMEs [offering Digital Customer Care Solutions] to grab a piece of the cake or even better to create “new market opportunities” for them?
We believe a key success factor is that Solutions have to be delivered on a Cloud Model.
We believe it is an excellent time for these players because of their:
- Ability to provide quickly Modular [1 or multiple channels, OTC or Custom] Solution(s) that can be deployed On Top of Companies’ Existing Infra.
- Ability to deliver very quickly PoC (Proof of Concepts) or even better a PoV (Proof of Value) in a reduced perimeter before full deployment. Full deployment could be partnered with an existing Integrator-Company or not (it will clearly depend on how quick we want things to roll out).
- Ability to provide APIs, in several formats, to easily integrate the needed features into the existing Company’s Solutions.
- Ability to Innovate, Test & Learn alongside the Company, Deploy Progressively and iterate accordingly with NO impact on the company side.
- Ability to be more Jugaad: provide much more value for a much more competitive pricing model.
Last but not least, established & big Businesses are more and more comfortable with Cloud models. For the past 9 months, i have been involved in the birth and follow up of 2 fantastic projects with 2 big corporations in the Financial & Retail Sector. Each project tackles respectively the following Digital Challenges: Customer Experience & Business Model. These enterprises want to become Digital Masters. They are open to dig into the Digital Arena and this is very exciting.
In a nutshell:
Digital Customer Care is allowing your customers to call you directly from your website. It is also giving them the opportunity to get a hold of you via intelligent selfService tools such as dynamic knowledge bases and automatic chat. Digital Customer Care also means gathering data from user behavior on your website and using it wisely while this particular customer is calling/contacting at any point in time, regardless the channel being use as mean of contact.
StartUps & SMEs providing Modular and “APIed”, Cloud Based, Digital Customer Care Solutions have an interesting opportunity to gain momentum in the market whether partnering with existing IT-integration Providers or not. Companies that are riding the Digital Customer Care train are accomplishing an important leap into Digital Mastery [the art of Digitally Mastering Customer Experience, Internal Operations and New Business models]. In turn, it will make them more impactful as well as more profitable than all its peers in the same industry. This might just be topic of a next post, see you soon.