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How you can design your customer-centric services for success and growth

Customer-centric organisations understand the need to design services that deliver their customers' optimal experience and efficiency. But customers' expectations are constantly rising, and the right offer from a competitor might tempt even the most loyal customer.

This temptation can increase dramatically with each bad interaction a customer has.

This increase in choice and agency enjoyed by customers today often leads to some intense introspection among service providers. They seek to better understand what customers want and whether they are up to the challenge of delivering it. This has led to the realisation that simply investing more money in customer-facing systems is unlikely to do the trick.

Success with customers today often means creating strategies and capabilities that meet customers where they want to be met, and then continually aligning to customer sentiment and behaviour to adapt to changes over time.

Making this real requires a fundamental change, away from product-based fixes to culture-based solutions. This in turn means understanding and respecting customers' needs and those of the people who are serving them.

When organisations collaborate, plan and back with investment a people and culture CX agenda, the right investments in the technology platforms can become easier to make.

Delivering on the fundamentals

Optus has taken this thinking to heart as part of its vision to be Australia's most loved everyday brand by putting the customer at the centre of a program of continuous improvement.

It does this by gathering insights from customers at various opportunities and using these to design for customer success by aiming to create exceptional experiences in the channels that customers engage in now and in the future.

By designing for a connected channel and through adopting an end-to-end mindset, Optus seeks to ensure that customer interactions, whether in retail stores, through the Community of Experts engagement centres (a multi-disciplinary team centred around collaborating and solving the needs of their customer base with the aim of eliminating transfers to different departments), or via digital platforms, align to its experience goals.

This desire to listen and foster collaboration between internal service experts and customers has also led to significant changes within Optus itself. This includes designing teams whose purpose and intent is to review customer journeys from a real-life perspective and identify when they are not meeting customer expectations. By gathering and understanding wide-ranging customer experiences – including the negative ones – Optus has built a data-driven agenda to support its customer ambitions.

But these tools are of little value if they are not placed in the right hands, and it is in organisational redesign that Optus is truly showing its commitment.

This is most clearly represented by Optus's reorganisation of traditional contact centre teams into a Community of Experts model. This sees Optus customers supported by a dedicated skilled team, with the intent that customers interact with experienced and consistent service teams every time the make contact.

The benefit is reflected in Optus having achieved its best result to date from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's complaints report, with a 27.9% reduction in complaints in comparison to the previous year. This equated to 3.9 complaints per 10,000 subscribers in the quarter between April and June.

Connecting the customer journey

While these changes are delivered by people, they are nonetheless enabled by technology. This combination is at the heart of modern customer experience excellence.

Webex by Cisco brings this to life through its Webex Customer Experience platform, which can help enable organisations to focus on the entire customer journey at various touchpoints - not just the contact centre. This capability was recently enhanced by the acquisition of imimobile, a company whose vision is to revolutionise customer experience by creating dynamic, always-on connections between global businesses and customers.

imimobile adds a Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) to Webex's offering, with the aim of allowing the delivery of frictionless experiences across all available communication channels for pleasing interactions that build lasting relationships.

By using technology to orchestrate and automate customer interactions, organisations can put the customer at the heart of the experience and break down internal departmental silos. This can also enable them to integrate customer interactions with backend business systems to deliver proactive, context-aware customer engagements.

This capability is embodied in the next-generation Webex Connect platform, which connects customers to humans via text, social, chat, email, and voice. The addition of AI-powered virtual agents facilitates faster support when needed, with virtual agents able to easily handle routine interactions, provide seamless transitions, and connect transcripts to live agents for more complex inquiries.

All of this is based on the Customer Journey Data Service which enables deep customer engagement across communication channels and platforms, such as websites, mobile apps, chat services, voice, social media, or any third-party services. This can also support the creation of customer profiles, which can support more personalised customer interaction.

Conclusion                            

Customer centricity requires true dedication to putting the needs of the customer at the centre of all action and change. This means looking beyond just technology and systems to design the right culture and working environment and then acquiring the technology to enable people to thrive.

This is one of the key ways that an organisation can seek to maximise the value of its technology investments.

Designing for customer success means meeting customers with purpose where and when they want to be met and investing in the underpinning technology that can deliver this vision.

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