Growing brands recognize that the customer is king. Across all industries, memorable and exceptional customer experiences are replacing price, purchase history and other variables as drivers of customer acquisition and loyalty.
Creating and maintaining a first-rate customer experience isn’t easy. But many brands are discovering that improved communication — and something I call “inside-outside enterprise messaging” — can provide the key to a better customer experience.
The connection between messaging and the customer experience
In enterprises, the organization’s communications infrastructure directly impacts the quality of the customer experience.
As the CEO of a company that provides one of the fastest growing enterprise messaging platforms on the market (NetSfere), maybe I’m biased. But my interactions with messaging platform buyers suggest that secure enterprise messaging has emerged as the most powerful new technology for achieving better business outcomes and improved customer experiences.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that organizations without strong messaging platforms in place are more likely than their peers to leave their customers wanting on the customer service front.
On the flip side, I believe organizations that embrace what I call “inside-outside enterprise messaging” are likely to deliver some of the best customer experiences.
How a holistic approach to messaging improves customer experience
Inside-outside messaging is the intelligent use of secure enterprise messaging technology to connect a variety of internal and external stakeholders in the enterprise. The growth of inside-outside messaging is powered by several fundamental truths:
- Messaging has jumped ahead of phone, email and online chat as the preferred way for customers to engage with brands. For an enterprise, this is the “outside messaging” component of inside-outside messaging. Brands needs this communications infrastructure to connect with customers on everything from service outage resolution to marketing promotions.
- Internally, employees also prefer messaging for communications. When employees need to collaborate on processes or work flows, it’s imperative that systems and people communicate quickly, across the organization. What better way to do this than through an “inside messaging” solution?
- The integration of inside and outside messaging improves the customer experience. Although most enterprise organizations have not yet integrated inside messaging and outside messaging, there is no doubt in my mind that tying these two together into what I call “inside-outside enterprise messaging” can truly enable transformational improvement to the customer experience.
Ideally, the organization’s messaging platform should be a single-point solution that addresses the full range of messaging requirements. Implementing one messaging solution for internal communication and another for external communication doesn’t make sense.
Worse yet, the implementation of multiple messaging solutions sets up the enterprise for a customer experience disaster right out of the gate because it introduces confusion and inefficiency into the company’s communications infrastructure.
Exploring the enterprise messaging learning curve
The rapid growth of our NetSfere customer base is driven primarily by the enterprise need for robust messaging platforms that improve internal communication, security and compliance. This “inside messaging” is often implemented in a silo, and that’s a logical first step in the mainstreaming of messaging technology in the enterprise.
But once brands have deployed enterprise messaging, they quickly realize that the right messaging platform can also improve the customer experience in multiple ways. There are typically four phases to this recognition of messaging’s role in customer experience.
- Internal Messaging on Service-Related Issues – By enhancing employees’ ability to communicate and collaborate in real time, enterprise messaging technology makes it much easier for organizations in healthcare, finance, hospitality, retail and other industries to improve the level of service to customers or patients.
- Guest Messaging – Messaging conversations among internal employees can only do so much. Messaging platforms that offer a “guest messaging” feature allow employees to invite customers into the conversation. Moreover, messaging interactions with customers can be analyzed for customer needs and for customer satisfaction. According to Gartner research, organizations that set out to improve the customer experience typically start by finding new ways to collect and analyze customer feedback. In many industries, guest messaging features can be used to capture insights from the people who matter most: customers.
- External Partner Messaging – More often than not, the quality of the customer experience is heavily influenced by vendors and other stakeholders outside of the organization. From supply chain management to strategic service partnerships, enterprise messaging equips organizations to coordinate with third parties to meet customer expectations.
- Messaging Integration into Data, Systems, and AI Engines – The final step takes messaging deployment to a new level. By programmatically merging data and intelligence into messages, an enterprise organization can significantly improve the customer experience. Chatbots provide exceptional service, allowing the enterprise organization to reallocate human capital resources to higher value efforts. This is the ultimate incarnation of “inside-outside messaging” as applied to improved customer experience.
Customer experience matters more than ever
There is no better time to invest in and experiment with “inside-outside messaging,” given the growing importance of customer experience.
Personally, I know that many enterprise executives are surprised at how quickly customer experience has moved center stage in the marketplace. But market research proves the trend. By 2020, customer experience will overtake product and price as the primary differentiator in the marketplace, according to research conducted by the customer intelligence firm, Walker.
As a result, brands are scrambling to deliver a customer experience that leaves a lasting impression on customers — and technology is a determining factor in customer experience improvement. For example, in the hospitality industry, the customer experience isn’t just about the enjoyment of a meal, flight or hotel stay. It’s also about guests’ ability to digitally interact with the brand in real time.
In many ways, the hospitality industry is ahead of the curve when it comes to using technology to engage customers. But from a customer perspective, the hospitality industry isn’t unique. The same need to instantly connect with the brand or organization via multiple channels can be found in retail, B2B and even less obvious industries like healthcare, finance and legal.
To me, that suggests that “inside-outside messaging” is a trend that is just getting started. And that’s without even considering the fact that mobile devices may soon make traditional laptop and desktop computers obsolete. That’s not an if — that’s a when.
We’re just getting started
Given the pace of technology and the competitiveness of the marketplace, I think it’s safe to say that the customer experience will continue to be a priority for B2C and B2B brands for the foreseeable future.
Are secure enterprise messaging and the inside-outside messaging framework I’ve discussed in this article the panacea for an improved customer experience? Of course not.
But they are definitely an important part of the solution and a key ingredient in every forward-thinking organizations’ attempts to better serve their customers.