TechDogs-"A Beginner’s Guide To Customer Engagement Platforms"

Customer Engagement Platforms

Customer Engagement Platforms Explained!

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Overview

Let’s face it, customers expect a lot from the companies they do business with. We have Amazon to thank for that — fast free shipping, easy returns and a half dozen ways to interact and engage with the brand. The retail giant has trained consumers to ask for the world. Don’t worry! You don’t need to be Amazon to improve customer engagement but you may need a Customer Engagement Platform (CEP).

CEPs work by collecting and combining data from multiple channels, mixing it up in a virtual blender and spitting out a single source of truth about every single customer. From there, you can deliver personalized, relevant customer interactions that keep customers happy, drive revenue and make you the hero of your own customer engagement story.

Got your attention – didn't it? Well, then what are you waiting for? Explore what a Customer Engagement Platform is, its benefits, how it works and where it is headed in the near future in this drama-filled read!
TechDogs-"Customer Engagement Platforms Explained!"-Get A 360-Degree View Of Your Customers.
An episode of Comedy Central’s Broad City clearly demonstrates the impact of a good customer experience. The episode titled “2016” finds one of its main characters, Abbi, in need of an updated driver’s license.

Based on previous experience, Abbi dreads going to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in New York City. When she arrives, she’s forced to wait for hours without food or a place to sit. Abbi ends up leaving without getting her updated license. She subsequently learns she can make an appointment online and avoid the long wait. She does this and when she returns (later that same day) the experience is completely different. She is ushered into a separate part of the DMV, offered limitless food and a special place to get her picture taken with perfect lighting and a professional photographer. She leaves with her license (and her mood is considerably better).

The power of a good experience is priceless. The next time Abbi needs something at the DMV, she will make an online appointment and she will not dread the experience in the future.

This is what CEPs do for your customers, minus the limitless food (obviously!). They leave a good impression so that the customer is much more likely to do business with you in the future. To do that, these tools optimize the customer journey. Sounds like a daunting task, right?

Don’t worry, Customer Engagement Platforms are built for just that - read on to find out how.
 

What Are Customer Engagement Platforms?


Before we start with the definition and what not, we have to set the record straight! Despite the name, Customer Engagement Platforms (CEP) won’t help your customers get married to each other. They do something much more exciting! Customer Engagement Platforms centralize your customer interactions, connecting the dots from all your customer channels to provide a seamless experience for customers.

CEPs automate and upgrade communications with customers by using first and third-party customer data. They help your business meet your customers wherever they happen to be — mobile phones, social media, websites, call centers, real-time chat and even in person. CEPs make customers happy and happy customers are engaged customers. They even help companies manage complex customer relationships by providing a 360-degree view of the customer. Every engagement is optimized. No opportunity is lost.

Essentially, throughout the customer's journey, they will have a great experience set and delivered. Too good to be true? Well, until recently, CEP did sound like a figment of a marketer’s imagination. However, today it’s a reality. Here’s how it got here.
 

A Brief History Of Customer Engagement Platforms

 
Customer experience, as a concept, dates back a hundred years ago to a time when the only way companies could understand their customers was through market research in the form of surveys and focus groups. Market research morphed into something called total quality management (TQM) in the 1980s and that’s (roughly) when the term “customer satisfaction” entered the marketing lexicon.

In the 1990s, customer engagement research was conducted over the phone or via direct mail, a slow and cumbersome process. Computers helped to collect and store customer engagement data but there were no centralized tools that existed, so it was done on a company-by-company basis through customized reporting websites.

Capturing the voice of the customer went high tech in 2001 with the emergence of enterprise feedback systems (EFMs) with vendors like Service Management Group and Mindshare cropping up even earlier than that.

Customer relationship management platforms, which rose to prominence in the early eighties with Salesforce and HubSpot are the precursors to today’s Customer Engagement Platforms. By 2012, companies like SAP and Oracle were offering branded customer-experience tools that emphasized customer-focused features to improve overall engagement.

Now, CEPs have their own seat at the table, with a variety of platforms and tools focused on better understanding the customer, providing multiple communication options and delivering personalized content across omnichannel touchpoints to foster engagement and improve customer experience. If you’re thinking about how a single platform can possibly do all that – read on!
 

How Do Customer Engagement Platforms Work?


CEPs are typically cloud-based and provide a holistic view of a company’s customers and automate a variety of different interactions and processes. Customer data is gathered from multiple channels including social media, CRM platforms, sales automation systems and customer support teams. The data is collectively fed into the CEP where it can be processed and analyzed so that companies have a better understanding of each customer. Imagine the DMV doing that and stocking up on Sour Cream and Onion Pringles every time you visited!

Anyway, some top features of CEPs include:
 
  • Collecting customer data across multiple channels (chat, email, Ecommerce, etc.), to give businesses a complete 360-degree view of the customer.​​

  • Facilitating personalization so customers receive relevant messages, recommendations and interactions.​​

  • Connecting and supporting distributed teams so that all customer-facing employees can appropriately engage with customers.​​​​​

  • ​​​​​​​Supporting robust integration with existing tools so that businesses don’t have to reinvent their technology stack to get customer data in one place.​

  • Empowering customer service representatives to better serve customers through tools like live chat, in-context scripts and reporting.​

  • Empowering customers with the right information at the right time, so they can do research on their own and effectively self-serve, when they don’t want to interact with a company or representative.​​​

  • Setting it up and using it is easy (and fast).​​​


Customer Engagement Platforms focus on improving the customer journey by facilitating multi-channel communication, offering self-serve features like guided chatbots and allowing businesses to monitor online mentions and issues that crop up in the wild. Not all CEPs have the same capabilities but all are focused on delivering top-notch experiences to customers.
 

Why Do We Need Customer Engagement Platforms?


Unless you’re the DMV (or the government), customer experience matters. Nearly 90% of companies now prioritize customer experience in their contact centers. We have Amazon to thank for this. They raised the bar on customer experience in a huge way by getting everyone used to free (and ridiculously fast) shipping, a limitless selection of products and created a frictionless shopping experience with their website and their application.

If your business wants to build a loyal consumer base like Amazon, providing a top-notch experience to every single customer needs to be on the top of your list. Using a CEP allows you to ensure that you have a holistic view of customers so that you can personalize engagement and interaction. Here’s exactly how important it can be to your business.
 

Benefits Of Customer Engagement Platforms

 
Customers hate poor experiences. They want offers tailored to their interests and to feel special. Good experiences are good for business.  One survey found that 86% of consumers were willing to pay more money for a great customer experience. Good experience fuels purchases, with 49% of consumers spending more when their shopping experience is personalized.

The primary benefits of using a Customer Engagement Platforms include:
 
  • They meet your customer wherever they happen to be (this is called “omnichannel customer engagement”). So, it doesn’t matter if someone reaches out to you on Facebook or Instagram, your CEP will ensure that they get a response!

  • ​They provide a 360-degree view of your customer. That’s marketing-speak for “they give real insight into what makes your customers tick.” Is it free shipping? Curbside pickup? The color blue? A CEP can help you answer these questions which, in turn, helps you deliver what your customers want.​​​

  • They’re better at making people happier. Let’s face it, you’re never going to be as fast as a robot. AI-powered chatbots respond to customers regardless of what time it is. Smart personalization engines (also powered by Artificial Intelligence) analyze thousands of different variables to deliver recommendations and content at the right time to the right person from the right device. Top that, DMV!

  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​They take real-time engagement to a whole new level. CEPs allow customers to reach out (using several channels, as noted above) whenever they happen to need you and enable synchronous chat, video and screen sharing.


If you thought that was awesome, wait till you read about the future of Customer Engagement Platforms!
 

The Future Of Customer Engagement Platforms


Customer Engagement Platforms will remain much better at making customers happier than your call centre staff. Gartner has created an entire category for this type of software — the Customer Engagement Center (CEC). As per Gartner, “The Customer Engagement Center (CEC) market includes software applications used to provide customer service and support by engaging intelligently — both proactively and reactively — with customers by answering questions, solving problems and giving advice.”

Forbes predicts that customer service will become more conversational and indeed, that’s already the case with one study finding that 69% of US customers prefer a company to contact them over text versus call. Customer experience will also become more omnichannel, with 90% of customers expecting brands to be consistent across channels. Finally, AI-enabled technologies will take CEPs to a whole new level, as Microsoft reports that 95% of all customer interactions will be supported by AI technologies by 2025. We can only hope that DMV gets the memo!
 

Summing It Up


Let’s face it – even the best of products fails to make a mark in the market because of poor experience. The bigger challenge – you have so many channels to take care of while building this experience – website, email, mobile, offline marketing, customer service, support – phew! Customer Engagement Platforms is your knight in shining armor. They ensure that no matter where your customer is, they’re engaged, feel valued and are content with the brand.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs) and what do they do?


Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs) are powerful tools designed to enhance customer interactions and experiences across various channels. Contrary to what the name might suggest, CEPs don't assist in matrimonial affairs but instead, they centralize customer interactions from all channels, providing a seamless experience. These platforms automate and optimize communications with customers, utilizing both first and third-party data to personalize interactions. By meeting customers wherever they are, whether it's through mobile devices, social media, websites, or in-person interactions, CEPs aim to leave a positive impression, fostering customer engagement and loyalty. They offer insights into customer behavior, facilitate multi-channel communication, and help companies manage complex customer relationships effectively.

How do Customer Engagement Platforms work?


Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs) operate as cloud-based systems that offer a comprehensive view of customer interactions and automate various processes. These platforms gather data from multiple channels, including social media, CRM platforms, and customer support teams, which is then processed and analyzed to provide insights into individual customer preferences and behavior. Key features of CEPs include collecting customer data across various channels, facilitating personalization of messages and recommendations, supporting distributed teams in engaging with customers, integrating with existing tools, empowering customer service representatives with tools like live chat, and enabling customers to self-serve with relevant information. CEPs focus on enhancing the customer journey by offering personalized experiences and optimizing engagement across all touchpoints.

Why are Customer Engagement Platforms essential for businesses?


Customer Engagement Platforms (CEPs) play a crucial role in today's business landscape, where customer experience is paramount. These platforms enable businesses to meet customer expectations and deliver personalized interactions, ultimately driving customer satisfaction and loyalty. In an era where nearly every industry prioritizes customer experience, CEPs offer a competitive advantage by providing a holistic view of customers and facilitating omnichannel engagement. By leveraging CEPs, businesses can personalize engagement, address customer inquiries promptly, and foster meaningful relationships with their customers. With the majority of consumers willing to pay more for a great customer experience, investing in CEPs becomes imperative for businesses aiming to thrive in a customer-centric market.

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