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The New Era of Customer Relationships

How significantly—and quickly—things have changed!

Until recently, the most significant developments in customer service have been those envisioned and implemented by organizations: the invention of 800 number (toll-free) service and ACD routing systems in the late 1960s and early 1970s; the introduction of workforce management capabilities and computer telephony integration in the 1980s; Web browsers and Internet-based services in the 1990s; and more recently, the amazing developments in multimedia, cloud-based capabilities, analytics and others.

We are now, however, seeing a major and fundamental shift: For the first time, developments on the customers’ side of the equation — the meteoric rise of smartphones, social media, broadband and mobility — are the most significant factors driving customer expectations and services. Given what is happening, I’m convinced we’ll see more change in the next five years than we’ve seen in the past four decades. Organizations can harness and leverage the trends, or get tumbled by them. Either way, our customers are in control—we’re entering a new era of customer relationships.

What does your organization need to do to respond to these changes? I believe there are five key success factors:

  • First, ensure your executive leadership team spends time “in the trenches,” observing how interactions are handled, understanding the work of internal development teams, talking to customers, etc. This provides invaluable insight into direction and development priorities.
  • Second, commit to providing a broad range of access choices to customers, enabling them to reach the information and services they need through the channels they want to use (mobile, social, self-service, phone, et al.)
  • Third, tend to blocking and tackling—e.g., manage workloads effectively so that as customer needs evolve, your organization is accessible and provides consistent high levels of service and quality.
  • Fourth, take every opportunity at each customer touchpoint to build customer relationships and capture insight from them that is used for innovation and product improvement.
  • Finally (and this is both a prerequisite to the above and an ongoing responsibility), build a strong organization (hire right, train well) with a cross-functional commitment to understanding and serving customers.

This is a season of significant change. Organizations that understand the trends and respond appropriately have enormous opportunity to differentiate and thrive.

Interested in learning more about how to operate TODAY's contact center that best supports the new customer experience?

Join me in San Diego for Execs in the Know's  Customer Response Summit.

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