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    US companies spend millions of dollars each year developing the best strategies and tactics to reach their target audience and increase sales. In fact, a survey on chief marketing officers (CMOs) found that in 2015, companies were spending between eight to 11% of revenue on marketing. The messages and media used to communicate a company’s offerings are key factors in business growth, but the increased prevalence of social platforms and instant access to information demand that organizations shift emphasis from “managing the message” to “enabling the conversation.”

    Today, customers expect more relevant, timely information that is personalized to them in the channel of their choice. InfoTrends found that 34% of customers want to choose their communications preference. Even though we’re in a highly digital age, human interaction remains a vital component of customer satisfaction, with 83% of US consumers preferring to interact with human beings instead of digital channels, according to Accenture's "Global Consumer Pulse Survey." As a result, organizations need a hybrid communications strategy that responds to today’s business reality where customer experience is king.

    Make customer experience a priority
    Every interaction and touchpoint—from marketing and operations to information technology (IT) and customer service—influences a customer’s perception and their willingness to do business with your company. Customer experience is not exclusive to marketing but something to be considered in all departments across an organization. Positive experiences can have a dramatic impact on the bottom line, since it’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

    How is the customer experience impacted by employee information access and usability? What about the security of customer data or the accuracy, timeliness, and repeatability of service? These are all questions enterprise leaders must address to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

    "A strong customer communication strategy is a key factor in creating an exceptional customer experience."

    To ensure integration across all departments and keep the customer experience a priority, consider the following:

    Personalized Communication: Relevant, timely, and personalized communication creates better customer interactions. When companies are responsive, customers feel valued, appreciated, and heard, which builds and maintains brand loyalty. Beyond timely communication, personalized communication can make the difference between a one-time and lifetime customer.

    Today, personalization means more than adding the customer’s name to a printed document. It involves providing the most relevant and meaningful information in a way that’s easily consumed via their preferred medium, whether email, online chat, text message, or a printed piece received in the mail. That personalized engagement must be informed by additional information about the customer, gleaned from historical in-house data as well as external sources—social media, for example.

    Access: The mobile workforce needs secure access to contextualized information so they can respond to customer needs in a timely manner from anywhere. Customers also want the option to access service and support information via their mobile devices.

    Security: Data breaches and IT security create increasing concerns for enterprises and customers alike. Organizations must stay vigilant to protect their business-critical and customer data, as well as ensure their infrastructure is secure.

    Workflow: Speed, accuracy, and repeatability are expected—not optional—qualities of everyday work. It’s well known that automating workflows help companies increase productivity and make better data-driven decisions. However, today’s dynamic nature of customer interactions is increasingly demanding more flexible processes. Simply digitizing existing paper-based processes will not cut it in today’s customer-focused world. Many legacy business processes need to be re-imagined with an emphasis on customer satisfaction, not just business optimization.

    Customer experience leaders
    Through better information management and services that improve communication, the customer experience can be significantly enhanced. For example, a global automotive manufacturer increased the usefulness of vehicle information by delivering the content digitally versus printed. Now, information that historically lived in an owner’s manual in the glove box can be accessed dynamically via a mobile app. The user simply points their mobile device camera at the area of interest, and the app uses image recognition to bring up information on that feature or control. The results were enhanced brand differentiation, highly personalized content (by individual VIN number), cost optimization through digital delivery, and an improved customer experience.

    Furthermore, a financial services company improved communication and customer response time by implementing a fully automated e-mailroom to manage the 10,000 items of correspondence (email, letters, faxes) received every day. They also deployed a content management service to automate downstream customer communication distribution and processing.

    The result: an 86% reduction in turnaround time for insurance claim settlements—from seven days under the previous system down to one day. The financial services company is also realizing operational cost savings through a reduction of manual processes and fewer calls to the service desk, along with improved regulatory compliance through better protection of customer documents.

    Creating and maintaining an exceptional customer experience
    A strong customer communication strategy is a key factor in creating an exceptional customer experience. Regardless of the channel—direct mail, email, or social media—information needs to be secure, relevant, and span a variety of mediums to meet customer preferences. An effective, memorable customer experience is further enhanced through easy access to information and timely, consistent service.

    The creation and execution of this strategy doesn’t have to be done in a silo. Like the automotive manufacturer and financial services company I discussed earlier, many enterprises are choosing to lean on experts and tools to create better customer interactions, increase brand recognition, and improve customer satisfaction and retention.

    Kerry Sanders is Vice President of Global Marketing for the Large Enterprise Operations at Xerox. He has more than 20 years of business success and experience as a collaborative global leader in sales, sales operations, and marketing. For more information, visit www.xerox.com or follow him on Twitter @ngrossed.
     

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