a common goal of delivering a seamless, personalized and relevant customer experience

We’ve all been there.

Maybe you need to send an important email that you’ve taken half an hour to draft. Or you’re in the process of booking tickets for a vacation – or a concert. Then it happens – Armageddon has struck. All of a sudden you’ve lost internet connection.

You quit and restart your browser. You reboot your laptop, tablet, or phone. Hmm, things are still not working. You turn off your internet box/cable modem, wait for five minutes like you know you should, then turn it on again. Still no deal.

You try to access your internet service provider’s website from your phone – it’s the only device that’s currently got a working internet connection. But the mobile version of the site looks different to the site you know. You’re desperately trying to find the ‘Support’ page, but all you can find are offers trying to sell you the latest subscription deals.

Finally, you bite the bullet and call Customer Services.

“Your Call Is Important To Us.” Really?

After being on hold for more than 20 minutes – even though you’re told by the automated message that “your call is important to us” – you finally reach a human being. You give your customer details to the Customer Service Representative, and describe your issue – as well as what you’ve already done to troubleshoot the problem. Since she’s reading from a script, she gets you to do the very same things you did when you tried to fix the problem yourself. You bite your lip and play along – you don’t really have any other choice.

Surprise surprise: the problem’s still there. The Customer Services person informs you that she’ll have to get an engineer to call you back. Don’t worry, she says, someone will get back to you in no more than ten minutes. Fifteen minutes, tops.

Half an hour goes by. While staring intently at the phone, you’re reminded of that time when you were an awkward 14-year-old waiting for that boy you like to return your call.

Annoyance has turned to frustration. Frustration has turned to anger.

You’re about to call the company again when the phone rings – it’s the engineer! However, he doesn’t know anything about your problem – other than you have a problem. You have to explain the situation all over again.

You can hear the engineer tapping away at his keyboard. “Try it now,” he says. Success! All’s well with the world again. Then, five minutes later, you receive an email from the company. They’re asking you to leave a rating on how well you think your problem was addressed…

Who Let The Side Down? It Doesn’t Matter

The internet service company has an active digital marketing presence. They have 20,000 ‘Likes’ on their Facebook page and 100,000 Twitter followers. They post regular articles, update their Instagram account every day, and are currently thinking about joining SnapChat. Yet, as far as you’re concerned, the company stinks: They’ve failed at delivering a single, unified customer experience.

The company, in their defense, would say that each of its departments did their job. After all, the Customer Services department answered your call and escalated your complaint when they couldn’t address it internally.

The Support team called you back, diagnosed the issue, and solved it.

The Marketing team sent you a communication, to let them know how well you think your problem was addressed.

However, all three departments only succeeded in annoying you, when all they had to do was recognise you as being the same person across each separate interaction.

Customers Expect A Unified Experience

What companies of all sizes seemingly fail to recognize is that customers don’t give a stuff whether they’re interacting with Sales, Support, Service, or even Accounts. To them, the company is considered as being one organization. A single entity. A single brand.

But if the customer doesn’t care which department they are speaking to, why do companies continue to keep customer information in separate boxes for Sales, Service and Marketing?

Part of the challenge today is for businesses to present themselves as a unified experience from the customer’s viewpoint. It’s all very well interacting and ‘engaging’ with people from the front-end – Twitter, for example. But the unification needs to be mapped to the back-end as well – customers increasingly expect nothing less.

This means a new way of doing business. A way of doing business that consolidates the entire organization around a common goal of delivering a seamless, individualized customer experience.

An experience that isn’t dependent on where the interaction happens to take place.