Consumers have become comfortable in interacting with companies across a growing number of channels. But while this has become a blessing for the large enterprises, has it become a curse for the smaller businesses? Let’s find out:
By now you already know the nature of today’s customers and how different they are from the yesteryear. Digitally inclined and highly informed – they are reaching to the companies on the phone, emails and web forms. Great! Because it is easier than ever for the companies also to communicate with customers through a number of different channels, at any time.
So where’s the problem?
Omnichannel Customer Engagement
Multichannel customer engagement has become obsolete now. Omnichannel customer engagement is the new trend. It is one step ahead of multichannel and throws the real challenge – Seamlessness and Consistency!!
Contrary to popular belief, omnichannel isn’t just about having multiple channels: it’s about making those channels work together in unison to deliver a seamless and consistent customer experience.
Micah Solomon, (Author, Keynote speaker, and Customer experience consultant), explains – ”Omnichannel customer experience can simply be shorthand for your customer’s ability to order from you in one channel (for example online), pick up through another (for example at a brick and mortar store) and if necessary return via yet another (for example from your porch or a dropoff point).”
What have the large enterprises done?
Nicole Fallon (Business News Daily Assistant Editor) states – ”Larger companies with big budgets have raised the bar for customer service, allowing people to reach them almost instantly through social media, live chat and even text messaging, in addition to traditional phone and email support. This trend toward omnichannel service has increased consumer expectations tremendously, leaving smaller companies no choice but to keep up or disappoint their customers.”
Two most critical challenges for any SMB in delivering Omnichannel customer engagement has been:
1. Respond quickly to customers, regardless of the channel it comes in on
2. Integrate all the communication channels to create a seamless communication landscape.
Unfortunately, according to a report last year 80% of small companies have failed to integrate their communication channels. Unlike their larger counterparts who boast of all channels being connected and integrated, SMBs have had a massive disconnect between channels to deliver an accurate omnichannel experience.
But this has been the story of one year back. Is the case same today?
Surprisingly No. Gradually but steadily fast-growing small businesses have moved towards a solution that has given the power to not only respond quickly to customers but also integrate all communication channels to create a unified view of the customers. Which solution is it?
It’s the CRM
Prevalent in the technology market for more than a decade, CRM is the only software that has shown consistent innovation in its features and functionalities. So what’s the latest role to get added into its arsenal? The answer is Customer Engagement Platform.
Starting as basic contact management software – CRM systems have grown to become customer engagement platforms for the small businesses. Learn how:
Rescuing SMBs from the siloed application landscape
Since the early days, small businesses have had different departmental tools to engage with the customers. The marketing department have used marketing automation, sales team have used sales force automation, and customer service agents have had a customer support tool. So the data generated within these systems have got restricted within the departments. As a consequence of which, small businesses have had to face inconsistent departmental views and deliver a broken fragmented experience across all channels.
New-age CRMs have removed this biggest obstacle of the SMBs through a compelling combination of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. With the new-age CRM software, SMBs have got the advantage to not only manage sales, marketing and customer service together but also streamline all interactions that happen throughout these stages.
What’s the benefit?
There are no silos of information to deal with. Just like the larger counterparts, SMBs have all their customer-company interactions orchestrated in one central platform. All the employees across the organization can find out at what stage every customer is. This empowers them to engage in a consistent, valuable and personalized way with the customers and provide extraordinary experiences to them at all touchpoints.
What have the SMBs got to say on this new role of CRM?
Paraphrasing the words of William Crandell (owner to a small business) – New-age CRM has helped to integrate all channels which in turn has enabled us to deliver the seamless experience in demand. Our customers can continue a conversation in different channels without repeating information. Using the CRM, we keep round-the-clock track of where, why and how customers have interacted with the company. During second or third stage of interaction – our agents refer to records of customers’ past interactions in the CRM to judge the present context of the conversation.
Customer satisfaction, post the implementation of CRM, has definitely skyrocketed. First, obviously for the quick and seamless engagement and second, for the diversity of channel options given to the customers. Unlike before, we do not ask the customers to contact in any specific channel. They can traverse across any medium desired. Because whether it is one, two, three, four or more – we are equipped to handle inputs coming in via myriad channels.
Certainly, omni-channel customer engagement has been exclusively offered by the larger enterprises, initially. But the onset of new-age CRM has changed the dynamics of the game. The playing field has been leveled between the larger enterprises and the SMBs and both are on the same ground now to attract, win and retain customers.
Today, while some small businesses have adopted the new-age CRM, we’re not that far away from a time when CRM will be seen in the arsenal of every small business. Isn’t it?