Digitalization and cloud architecture have removed the borders between communication solutions and other systems that drive business processes. In everyday life, this has often been described as "integration" in various kinds of projects. The borders are also fading away between service providers opening up ever more cooperation.
In the service ecosystems of the future the customer is at the center. Providers will jointly deliver new solutions bundled into service packages, taking into account the actual needs of the customer. This way, actions are being driven between companies and understanding of the service chains is on an entirely new level.
In my opinion, the best description for this activity is "partner ecosystem". In the big picture, the customer is a partner and is involved with its operations in the joint activities.
Communication between company and customer is at the heart of customer experience. Good experience produces positive emotions in the mind of the customer both during and after the communication.
Traditionally, these communication channels have been, for example, telephone or customer service desk. Today there are several channels and more are being developed at an accelerating rate. In certain channels there might not be even a real person answering questions. In these channels the process is handled with artificial intelligence and with the help of chatbots
The extent of customer communication and related information is constantly expanding. It is increasingly difficult to manage and control by an individual service provider. In practice, the total service environment of the customer consists of the sum of several providers services, each of them seeing only the part they produce, but not how they appear together to the end customer.
When discussing top-class customer experience, another key factor is collecting customer data and refining it to support the business.
As digitalization keeps growing, we continuously gather information from customers and from all the points of interaction. The information collected is usually confined to the part of the service that is provided by our company. The overall picture remains unseen. In order to serve consumer and business customers as efficiently and as effectively as possible, putting customer information at the center of day-to-day work is the most important thing for the entire service chain.
Producing services shifted a long time ago to cloud, or in practice to several clouds. For consumer services, it is a standard, and solutions used by companies are increasingly in the cloud on a large scale as well. This is also possible with communication solutions, although traditional operators are holding back this development.
The main reason for this is the old operational structures of the operators, where a large part of their turnover is still generated through traditional solutions. Naturally, they do not want their arrangements to be broken down even if it would be in the interests of customers.
Breaking down old structures would result in flexible and unified services and better customer experience.
Combining different cloud services into one service concept requires deep thinking for the partner ecosystem. The actual integration of service into another’s service is no longer the key issue. In cloud services, the technical integration component today is a very standard, reliable and scalable part. More relevant to the customer experience is how the processes between partners are designed and produced so that the service itself is unified and seamless for customers.
A good example relating to customer experience and services is matching the customer relationship management system (CRM) and communications solutions.
In practice, services used today can be combined in such a way that the end user uses only one application and it embeds all the necessary services intuitively in one view. At the same time, all the information that is being dealt with in different customer service processes can be analyzed in real time and with plain language to either develop the customer experience or to measure factors for analysis by business management.
For the end customer, this means that contact goes directly and automatically to the right recipient inside the company. Again, the recipient has all the necessary information available in one unified view of the customer, with information such as customer history, ongoing activities, potential interests, and more.
Behind the scenes this combination of technical and other processes are combined to offer one unified end-user experience. This is only possible because the service providers understand how to work together and build a sky of harmony instead of individual clouds.
Heavenly good! I would say.
Writer Olli Kautonen is based in Helsinki, Finland and works as a director of sales & partners at Benemen and is willing to help companies and organizations to better understand the possibilities of partner ecosystems to boost processes and enable better customer experiences.