Back in the day, the physical, face-to-face interaction was key. Then everyone went online, developing new shopping habits via our computers, and, for the past few years, people have increasingly engaged with companies via their smartphones and tablets.
This revolution in shopping and commerce patterns has had a significant impact on the types of channel in which organisations engage their customers, and, more significantly, the importance of each channel. This has come to a new extreme with the digital enterprise.
You can’t hide from your customers behind a screen
Digital enterprises can now operate without ever having a single brick and mortar location for physical interaction with their clients.
Their customers are the Digital You: the digital footprint; the virtual persona across all channels; digital communications and access; digital finance and payment; digital commerce; social media; browsing history.
Ultimately, customers do it online and it’s part of the Digital You that digital enterprises are tapping into.
In such an environment, where the entire interaction of the digital enterprise with its customers is online, the Digital You’s journey in the virtual space is the one that counts.
It is this experience only that will determine if that customer will shop with that digital enterprise now or in the future.
That’s why, more than physical stores that may benefit from passing footfall, digital businesses must deliver the best customer experience they can. Or, in other words, digital enterprises must be “customer obsessed”. They simply can’t afford not to be.
It pays to invest in good digital solutions
The single system that has the most impact on the customer journey is the billing and commerce system, and its user interface. But while you’re probably saying “What’s new about that? We’ve been obsessed with our customer experience for years”, oddly enough, research shows that this obsession has not yet trickled down to impact the experience of the customers themselves.
In a recent Forrester Consulting research paper commissioned by Amdocs Optima of 300 IT and business professionals provided insights to their current and future billing systems.
The research revealed that 58% realise that their customers want more flexible billing and commerce options.
In addition to meeting customer needs by implementing more flexible billing and commerce options, 45% anticipate improving customer experience; 39% expect improvement in customer service; and 35% predict an increase in customer loyalty and retention as a result of providing better options.
A further 43% believe that a more flexible billing and commerce system will increase operational efficiency and business agility.
These results reinforce the significance of billing and commerce systems in the customer lifecycle. They also show how current systems are not delivering on customer expectations.
The revolution in the position of billing and commerce platforms
In most organisations, billing and commerce systems have traditionally been relegated to the back office, managed by IT professionals who led and defined these processes’ requirements, scope and capabilities.
Sales and marketing teams had limited involvement in defining their desired requirements, or in the platform selection process. But this is all changing, with the realisation that billing platforms are not merely business support systems, but rather business enablement platforms.
These solutions are playing one of the most significant roles in the success of a digital enterprise: building a digital ecosystem that not only delivers the business models that customers demand, but also driving the overall customer journey. And while at first glance it may appear easy and simple, it’s actually very complex.
Marketing executives should leverage Digital You behavioural data coming from the billing and commerce platform to improve decision-making processes, to influence the customer journey and impact sales, almost in real time.
>See also: The next frontier in the Internet of Things
Taking this a step forward, predictive analytics won’t only improve customer experience but have a direct impact on sales. This will make the billing and commerce platform mission-critical, rather than relegating it to being “just another back-office system”.
In this fast paced world, we, the Digital You’s, want to connect anytime, anywhere. We insist on real-time interactions; we expect immediate satisfaction – we are digital.
Given that Digital You’s are reluctant to commit, often engaging in a one-time transaction with an organisation, inspiring customer loyalty and recurring engagements is the top priority of any enterprise.
As organisations become “customer obsessed” and billing and commerce platforms move to centre stage, they’re increasingly relying upon their marketing and sales professionals to provide input and guidance, as well as to participate in the system selection process.
This effort alone has the capacity to help digital enterprises optimise the customer experience at every point of contact and evolve single consumer engagements into an ongoing relationship.
Sourced by Yael Shatzky, head of product and solution marketing for Amdocs Optima