Most of the discussion around customer experience focuses on sales, marketing or customer service. There’s a missed opportunity, however, to talk about how investments in underlying infrastructure – such as bandwidth and data – can improve the customer experience. Today’s customers want speed and reliability in every aspect of your business. Anything less will send them running to the competition. And getting this right on the marketing and customer service fronts isn’t enough. Operations must also be front and center in any sustainable customer experience discussion. Let’s take a closer look at five different ways key infrastructure and technology investments can improve your customer experience (CX).
Uptime: The Reliable Customer Experience
A great customer experience is based on your ability to deliver your products and services, which is arguably more impactful than great marketing, sales and customer service combined. The reason a great experience is so important is that when there’s a breakdown in systems, customer trust erodes – and that often drives them to the competition. For example, when a customer goes to visit your website and your website is down, it can give the impression that your business is unreliable, or even raise questions about whether you’re still operating. When you take the necessary steps to ensure uptime across your digital customer experiences, your customers associate your company with the ability to deliver an “always-on” service. Companies are investing in ensuring reliable uptime by investing in monitoring tools for on-site servers and employing high-bandwidth networks that can support spikes in traffic.
Flexibility: Optimize for Mobile
Pew Internet reports that 77% of Americans own a smartphone, and 31 million Americans use just their phones to get online. As a result, companies are increasingly focused on optimizing their digital experience for mobile devices, and the need for mobile optimization goes far beyond marketing and sales. Increasingly, companies are delivering services such as customer support, or even product access, online. Customers want the flexibility to access their products or your team of experts no matter what device they are on. One important example for small businesses is ensuring your website is mobile-responsive, and that customers can view product information or make a purchase from their smartphone or tablet. To ensure that you deliver an experience driven by your customers’ preferred technology, your mobile CX should be seamless across platforms. Mobile optimization gives your company the flexibility that’s needed to serve the widest range of customers.
Speed: Showing that You Value Your Customers’ Time
Improving your delivery speed signals that you value your customers’ time. People are busy, and performing routine tasks takes time away from their work, family or hobbies. Companies that make routine tasks quick and painless win in terms of positioning. For example, consider online banking. Even the most comprehensive online banking experience won’t engage customers if it is slow or unwieldy. By ensuring that features like your network speed and your user interface as are streamlined as possible, you’ll be delivering a customer experience that shows you value your customers’ time and convenience. Investing in your network helps you deliver speed to your customers. Any digital experiences you offer to your customers are quick and efficient when powered by a fast network. At the same time, when your employees rely on interactive tools such as cloud-based products or CRM systems during customer interactions, response time is crucial. A fast and highly responsive network helps your employees be agile and timely when supporting customers and performing critical tasks.
Security: Taking Trust and Privacy Seriously
With data breaches and security issues making headlines, companies can dramatically improve the customer experience by investing in one area customers hopefully never see – security. In many ways, security is an area that only draws attention when it’s not working. Investing now in your company’s security will prevent future breakdowns. You can leverage these investments by showcasing your focus on security in your messaging – and in your quality promise to your customers. For example, when one small-business e-commerce platform made strategic investments in their network security, they were able to qualify for industry certifications, which increased trust and assured customers that it was safe to share their payment information.
Personalization: Use the Data at Your Fingertips
Big data, analytics and visualization are all key buzzwords. However, the reality is that businesses can track more information and data about their customers and operations than ever before. For small businesses, integrated access to customer interaction data improves personalization on your website, provides detailed information during customer service calls and analysis of experiences that happen in a company’s physical location, if applicable. This provides tremendous value when personalizing the marketing experience, but it goes far beyond that and into how your company conceptualizes its operations. Invest in the right systems to help your company access and analyze data. Data-driven decision-making can help you grow and personalize your services to create a better customer experience at every level of the business. When investing in data-analytics capabilities, it is important to ensure that your underlying infrastructure has the speed, bandwidth and computing power necessary to maximize your ability to leverage the data you collect. One example of this is a small business that used faster networks to roll out CRM access to all of their sales and customer service reps. Every time a customer called in or received a contact from the company for a service follow-up, the employee had access to the entire customer history and could efficiently target the content of the call.
Improving the customer experience is critical to keeping pace with evolving customer expectations and your competitors. However, your company CX goes far beyond your marketing and sales agenda, and must be something you focus on at an operational level. By investing in reliability, speed and security, your company will be positioned to deliver products and services your customers believe in – and help you stand out from the crowd.
Are you ready to learn more about how investing in the speed behind your business can improve your company’s customer experience? Visit CenturyLink® Business High-Speed Internet services for more information.