The rise of the customer hub
At a time when customer experience is becoming everyone’s job, it is vital that organizations break down any internal barriers that disrupt the customer journey. Only by working together, across departments, will customers receive the right levels of service and consequently remain loyal to a business.
However, many companies remain organized in a traditional departmental or channel-by-channel structure. While this may have worked in the past, it creates silos of activity and information, meaning that employees can fail to see the bigger picture and can even inadvertently cause roadblocks on the overall customer journey.
Breaking down these barriers was a key theme at last week’s Eptica UK Customer Day, which was attended by customers, partners and consultants from across the country. Keynote speaker, customer experience strategist and author Martin Hill-Wilson, outlined the concept of the customer hub – a structure that brings together skills from across the business in a cross-functional team, focused on the customer. The skills within a customer hub include sales, marketing, customer service, analytics, change management and collaboration – all within the same team, rather than simply scattered across the organization. As Martin pointed out, this removes the ‘them and us’ mentality that can exist between departments, fostering team work, a positive culture and consequently faster, higher performance that benefits customers and the overall business.
At a time when customers are becoming increasingly demanding, the customer hub ensures that they receive real-time responses, improving the experience and consequently revenues. It underpins the scalable one-to-one service that companies need to offer if they are to differentiate themselves, while still operating efficiently.
One of the key advantages of the customer hub is that it does not require new investment – it is simply bringing together existing resources into a single place. It scales with the organization, and can begin with a small, cross-functional team that just talks to each other, before evolving into a more formal structure. By beginning the process of breaking down departmental barriers it also helps on the path to digital transformation by encouraging dialogue and information sharing between teams.
The customer hub in action
Judging by customer feedback and presentations on the day, leading companies are already embracing the customer hub concept. Customer service teams talked about how they are working together or co-locating with those in other departments, building cross-functional teams, and then redesigning processes and procedures to make the customer journey smoother. Insurance company Ageas spoke about how it is integrating best practice across different sites and brandsin order to maximize efficiency and improve the overall experience. Training organization City & Guilds outlined how it can call on the knowledge of external subject experts to answer particular queries, all within the customer service workflow.
The technology to underpin the customer hub is also increasingly mature. Eptica’s linguistically-powered Customer Engagement Suite is designed to be integrated with other solutions easily, enabling the free flow of information to where it is needed. For example, information in a contact center knowledge base can be shared throughout an organization, such as with the service or delivery teams, either directly or by linking to the software that they currently use. Eptica’sEnterprise Agent allows queries to be shared and answered by experts across the business, not just in the contact center. This enables an organization to make best use of everyone’s skills and consequently deliver a premium experience efficiently.
The customer experience has never been so important, and companies understand that they need to take a holistic, organization-wide approach to delivering it. The customer hub concept provides a straightforward, scalable, and effective way of focusing everyone’s skills on helping the customer, and as the success of the Eptica customer day shows, it is increasingly being adopted by leading businesses across the UK.