How Companies are Shaping Access Strategies that Further Their Brands

By Brad Cleveland

What access channels should be opened up? How can you encourage customers to use the most suitable alternatives? How many menu selections should the IVR present? These are common questions, and the fact is, beyond applying sound management principles, these decisions are yours to make. My overarching advice: Make your customer access strategy uniquely yours — do what’s best for your customers and your organization.

Evolving technologies and creative applications are enabling organizations to expand their access alternatives and boost their brands. Some examples include:

  • Intuit’s Accounting Professional Division developed a vibrant customer community, accessible from directly within their accounting software programs.
  • 1800FLOWERS ( is the company name, phone number, primary URL, and (you guessed it) address for Twitter, Facebook, and other channels.
  • Amtrak’s ( speech recognition system named “Julie” (the voice of Julie Seitter, a voice-recording professional) books thousands of reservations a day and has become something of an industry legend.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina has been an early adopter of click-to-talk functionality.
  • Telematics capabilities are opening up opportunities for automobile companies and their partners to deliver an ever-expanding range of content and services to drivers, such as navigation, remote diagnostics, stolen vehicle tracking, and automatic crash response (General Motors aired a successful, long-running advertising campaign featuring recorded emergency calls through its OnStar service).
  • The National Cancer Institute in the U.S. is using Facebook to reach out to families, individually, who are battling disease, need support or are looking for information and help.
  • Companies that include HP, Dell, and others delivering technical support have boosted customer satisfaction and reduced call times through co-browse capabilities.
  • Thousands of new apps for tablet computers and smart phones are enabling customers to access relevant services, support and communities (one of my favorite examples is an app USAA pioneered that allows its banking customers to take pictures of their checks with their phones and submit the images for immediate deposit).

These are just some of the many examples I could cite. Observe the companies you most enjoy doing business with, and you’ll notice the best deliver services that complement their brand and culture.

Copyright Brad Cleveland

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