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There are many aspects of daily life and how business is conducted that will never be the same once the pandemic ends. For brands, the crisis has brought fundamental changes in how customers behave—there’s been a tectonic shift in their behavior. Many observers have noted huge increases in consumers going online to do things that, until recently, they were more likely to do face to face. But the reality is that customers are taking an omnichannel approach to interacting with brands, based on their perception of the varying capabilities of different modes of interaction.
As Cynthia Stoddard, CIO and SVP of Adobe notes, “The new customer experience (CX) cannot be digital only. Customers will expect the same experience and consistent information regardless of medium. The CX in the ‘new normal’ must be much more seamless and consistent everywhere.”
And CIOs and CMOs must work together to meet this challenge.
Many brands will focus first on updating the CX by integrating and linking the various isolated systems that support different channels. This is where the CMO can lean on the CIO and the IT team’s expertise in data integration, normalization, and integrity. For many organizations, the initiative to update the CX will involve not only acquiring net-new functionality, but also moving data from legacy, single-purpose systems to a modern shared platform. Extracting data from legacy applications is one specific task where the IT team brings tremendous value to the marketing department. The CIO and the IT team can help the CMO and the marketing team effectively utilize cloud services such as Microsoft Azure and solutions such as Adobe Experience Platform to deliver a single cohesive view of the customer.
Another focal point for supporting a CX for the new next is to add functionality to online systems to offload and extend the call center. During the pandemic, the combination of increased call center loads and the need to work remotely resulted in many brands providing poor service levels, with extended wait times. The most obvious joint CIO/CMO initiative to solve this problem is better support for enabling customer agents to work remotely. The new next is likely to see the augmentation of the traditional corporate call center with a substantial degree of remote work.
Another lesson from the overloaded call centers is that better online tools and solutions are needed that allow customers to receive the quality of service that a customer service agent provides. A CX with intelligent chatbots, avatars, and virtual/augmented reality will deliver next-generation CX. There will always be complex or unique interactions that only a human can manage effectively, but increasing what can be done digitally is an important goal for the CIO and CMO.
There are also specific features and capabilities that must be added to the CX of the future as we enter the new normal. One prominent example of this is to add e-signing capabilities such as Adobe Sign to digital systems. Face-to-face customer interactions may be restricted or limited for some time. Another focal point may be to provide customers with better access to data about their interactions with the brand beyond just purchase transactions. Giving them the same comprehensive view of their relationship that the brand has is a good starting point.
“It’s true that our future will be very different from what we knew in January 2020. For many businesses, the ability to enhance their CX to better attract and retain customers in the new normal will dictate their success or failure,” says Stoddard. “The ability of the CIO and CMO to work together to deliver a new CX is central to accomplishing that goal.”
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