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In the modern era of connected people and products, the expectations of your customers are rising exponentially.   You cannot just meet these expectations by answering the phone quickly, or responding to an online post with lots of smiley-faced emoticons.  Customers are expecting you to be working behind the scenes to connect the dots of their experience with you.

Customers Are Asked to Provide a Great Deal of Information.  Basic personal and payment information is only the start.  Some web sites require customers to register and create password accounts.  Others ask for preferences or require account info from social networks like Facebook.

Customers Don't Do It For Nothing.  Most consumers understand the need to provide information online.  They can’t get a package shipped if they don't enter an address and purchases need to be paid for.  But this information is provided not just with the expectation that it will help them conclude the transaction.  In most cases, it is outright stated “In order to better serve you…” when they are asked for information in the first place.

Customers Expect to be Better Served.  Today’s consumer is well aware of the information they have provided your company.  When a customer spends time filling out a form to register or make a purchase, they expect that someone in your company has that information and will find it quickly when they call.

So what does a Customer Expect You To Know?  The connected consumer knows that your company tracks every product on hand in some form of inventory management system.  It records purchases in order tracking and accounting systems.  It tracks correspondence and complaints in email archives and case management systems.

The fact that these systems may be disconnected does not matter, because the connected consumer knows that computer systems can, or should, interact with one another.  If Google can connect them to a world of information from everywhere, your Customer Service department should be able to see an order from last week.

Be prepared to know the following about all your customers:

How many purchases they have made from you and what those purchases were.  This will point to whether you’ve got a new user who may need basic help or a potentially top-end expert who pushes your products to the limit.  Are you prepared to answer questions for both types of customers?  If you need to ask them a series of questions just to figure this out, you’re already missing expectations.

Whether they have experienced problems with your company in the past.  You’ll want to approach a happy customer differently than one who is already frustrated.

If any transaction they are currently involved with is connected to any internal problem your company should be aware of (out-of-stock, defect, etc.)  There is no easier way to make the problem worse than telling a customer things are on track, only to find out later there was a problem already occurring with their order.  Whenever the customer starts with “You should have known…”, the problem is already escalating.

Your organization needs a platform to serve your customers that connects all these dots.  Your agents need to be empowered to solve problems with tools that allow them to share knowledge and collaborate so that they can respond accurately. They need to be connected to all your customers’ information across your organization so that they can respond to any question a customer may have.  Those dots must be connected before the customer calls.

Otherwise, there may not be any dots left to connect….