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For those who haven’t seen it, there’s a lot to love about the newest phone from Samsung. Whether it’s the new Infinity Display that seems to go on forever, the DEX docking station that turns your phone into a desktop computer, the incredible Virtual Reality experience, or the rapid wireless charging that replenishes your phone’s battery in minutes, it’s easy to see why the Samsung Galaxy S8 and 8+ will be two of the hottest devices this year.

I’ve admittedly had occasional dalliances with Samsung, yet I always come back to the Apple iPhone. While the rumors associated with the iPhone 8 sound incredible, It’s hard to argue with the growing belief that Samsung, with the Galaxy S8, has finally leapfrogged Apple— offering the best mobile phone on the market. In fact, after evaluating the Samsung Galaxy S8, Zach Epstein from BGR wrote that while he’s waiting for the iPhone 8 to be released, “Using my iPhone for the next 6 months is really going to suck.” (Click here for the full article).

Why do people stay with the iPhone instead of upgrading to a superior phone?

A Walled Garden, or a Virtual Prison?

Apple has improved their end user experience by creating an eco-system that helps devices and services from Apple to work better together. Many believe this eco-system has become the virtual equivalent of a 30 foot wall, keeping customers locked into using their products and services. If you look deeper at Apple’s solutions, I believe you will see that Apple has created not one but three different ecosystems!

The first ecosystem lives in the hardware layer. When you use an iPhone with an iPad and/or a MacBook Pro, you can access your messages, cellular service, and mobile hot-spot from any device. While it sounds trivial, this deep level of integration simplifies your workflow, helping to complete more tasks with much less wasted time.

Apple’s second ecosystem lives at the application layer. Services like FaceTime, iMessage, and to a lesser degree iCloud have become the de-facto standard in communicating with friends and family, most of whom also use Apple devices and services. If I switched to the Samsung Galaxy S8, I become a virtual outcast. While there are numerous app options to replace the functionality of apps like iMessage and FaceTime, in order to video call my iPhone using friends requires me to not only download a new app, but to convince them to install another application on their phones. When I’ve tried to use an Android phone in the past, my experience has shown me this is no trivial task.

The newest, and possibly the most critical, ecosystem is the AppleCare coverage provided by the Genius Bar in Apple stores. When I have an issue with a device, regardless of where the device was purchased, I can quickly schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar to get it addressed. Apple has even expanded it’s service offerings to now include on-site device repair. This means when my son drops his iPhone and the display is damaged, instead of submitting an insurance claim with an inflated deductible, I can get the unit repaired quickly, professionally, and at a reduced cost from Apple. Whether you purchase AppleCare, or it’s bundled with your cellular insurance coverage, this final ecosystem may be Apple’s most important ecosystem. I’ll stick with my “boring” iPhone 7 Plus while rabidly consuming any rumors about the pending iPhone 8.

Are your Customers Locked In

While your business may not have the same opportunity to provide customer lock-in at the hardware or application layers, ask yourself this—is your customer service organization as an ecosystem, or a required cost of business? If you are still worried about how many calls agents are handling, how quickly they’re moving from call to call, and measuring performance based on agent occupancy, you’re missing a huge opportunity.

“Is the silver bullet customer satisfaction, net promoter score, customer effort score, or something else? While this debate is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, we submit that there’s no questions what the worst metric is for service: average handle time.”
-Harvard Business Review “Call Length is the worst way to measure customer service”

While today’s omni-channel, or multi-touch solutions provide more connectivity with less friction for your customers, alterations to your business processes are required to truly create a successful customer engagement solution. In a recent survey conducted by Avaya, 82% of organizations reported they have had customer engagement management (CEM) initiatives fail over the past three years. The next logical question is why? Did the software the customer chose not offer the right functionality? Did the integrator fail to deliver the proper configuration?

The answer is no. The number one reason these companies identified for the failure of their CEM initiatives was a failure to modify business processes. The second most identified reason for failure–the initiative wasn’t aligned with their customer preferences. The third most identified challenge was a lack of buy in from employees.

I believe the key to a successful CEM implementation requires four key decision points:

  1. When considering CEM software, focus on the consultative services offered. Consulting services can help you understand new business measurement tools such as Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort Score, and other business process changes are critical to ensuring successful business outcomes.
  2. Ask for successful implementations and reference-able customers. Due to the high amount of CEM implementation failures, it’s critical to evaluate these references, understanding how these references measure their success, changes they made to their business processes, and what role the vendor played since implementation to maintain success.
  3. Focus on a solution that provides agility to your business so you can embrace rapidly changing customer preferences. No sooner will you implement a solution to support SnapChat, and another social media platform will become wildly popular with your customers. Supporting new channels must be modular and not require a forklift upgrade, otherwise your CEM ecosystem looses it’s grip on your customers.
  4. When evaluating solutions, consider your business’ needs. While general advice would include evaluating both on-premise or cloud based solutions, not every business has the ability to choose one or the other. Vendors who offer solutions with a common software package create agility and a migration roadmap that can take you from an on-premise deployment to a cloud solution when you’re ready for one.

Shameless Plug

Avaya has created the most complete package of customer experience management solutions for businesses of all sizes. Avaya pairs award winning software such as Avaya Oceana with Professional Services, to deliver successful outcomes for your business. For more information, visit avaya.com/oceana

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Steve Forcum

Systems Engineer at Avaya
Steve Forcum is a sales engineer with Avaya. Leveraging the ability to explain complex technology in simple terms, Forcum has developed trusted advisor status with many of the largest businesses in New England and beyond. He has created a platform of engagement, with followers on all forms of Social Media, and hosts a weekly Podcast “Inside Avaya”.

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