Customer Experience Management – Burger King or McDonalds?

This is my second post in the current series focusing on Customer Experience Management - CEM – for the CIO Collaboration Network. As you may know, I’m writing 3 posts for each series in this ongoing program, with 2 being posted here and 1 directly on the CIO portal. My last post examined the business value of collaboration to support CEM, and here I’m going to look at the business case for the same. The differences are subtle but important, and the business case is about the rationale for having collaborative tools – namely Unified Communications – to get the most from CEM.
So, why do enterprises need UC for CEM, and what does fast food have to do with customer service? In terms of the business case, UC is a fundamental building block for CEM, but this may not be evident yet to contact center decision makers. UC has been primarily an enterprise-focused solution, helping employees communicate more effectively within their organization. The business case there is typically tied to the phone system, especially end-of-life scenarios. This is a natural trigger event whereby IT must do something, and increasingly, UC is one of the more appealing options.
There really is no comparable trigger event or driver in the contact center for UC, and that largely explains why it hasn’t been a top priority. Instead, the impetus is coming from external forces – changing behaviors and expectations from customers. Aside from this being a new development, these changes are not well understood, impossible to control, and difficult to measure in the context of building a business case. A cardinal rule of business is that you can only improve what can be measured, so when customer satisfaction scores start to dip, IT will suddenly get religion about finding metrics to make the case for UC.
Of course they will only do this if they understand the broader strategic value of UC and the associated collaboration capabilities it brings to the contact center.  I don’t need to articulate those benefits here; the CIO Collaboration portal is very rich in such content, and I’ll leave that to you for further exploration. Building on this strategic value, the business case for UC becomes easier to define. The drivers are different here, and management is not thinking about lower telecom costs or network efficiencies. UC and the contact center is all about the customer, and as outlined in my last post, this is really about CEM.
While most of the CEM discourse is about managing the experience, you first need the tools to create that experience, and that’s where UC comes in. Conventional contact center tools provide a pretty uniform, predictable and reliable experience, but that just won’t do with today’s customers. As noted here and elsewhere on this portal, many customers want – and expect – an interactive, multichannel experience where the phone call is the starting point of the interaction, rather than the totality. A robust UC deployment will give agents the tools to roll with whatever comes their way, and when customers have a good – or great - experience with agents, you can be certain that all the metrics contact centers live and die by will trend upward. Case closed.
Have you figured out yet where burgers come into the discussion? Well, we all know Burger King’s USP – unique sales proposition – “have it your way”.  Like most businesses, burgers are pretty commoditized, and it’s hard to differentiate from the crowd. Burger King knows they’ll never be a big as McDonalds, but they deliver a better customer experience by allowing us to choose our toppings. It only takes a few seconds to hold the pickle or add extra mayo, but that makes all the difference for keeping the customer happy – and making sure they come back over and over again. Clearly, McDonalds customers value other things, but BK has been holding its own for a long time, and I’m sure their customer satisfaction metrics validate a loyal base of burger lovers.
Really, is your business any different? Burger King caters to customers who want a burger on their terms, and that’s why they don’t go to McDonalds. If your line of business is crowded with lots of similar offerings, any form of customization can be differentiator. For many companies, customer service is the best – or even only – way to do this, and if you’re in that camp, then I’m sure CEM is in your thoughts 24/7. The contact center can be a gold mine for customization, but only with the right tools, skill set and management vision. If you have the vision, then the business case for UC should be self-evident.
The choice to me is pretty simple – do you want CEM to be like Burger King or McDonalds?  Did you know there are 1,024 ways to have a Whopper? That’s a lot of choice, and wouldn’t you like your agents to have so many options? The way social media and mobility is evolving, it won’t be long until your customers think they have this many choices, and you probably don’t want to find this out after the fact. Bottom line - collaboration is a highly personal experience, and with UC, CEM can become a true business driver that goes well beyond what happens in the contact center. Remember, the customer is always right, and you don’t want to get on the wrong side of an Angry Whopper experience.

This post sponsored by the CIO Collaboration Network and Avaya