With digitisation on the rise, customers are now savvier and more demanding about how they interact with brands. This has been driving companies to shift their focus and investments to improve customer experience by opening up new interaction channels – including web, social and mobile – to address customer needs.
A recent Accenture study confirms that 64% of business decision-makers in Australia are planning to improve cross-channel customer experience by offering better online / mobile services.
Following this trend, digital communication platforms are being introduced continuously, much to customers’ delight, and are being quickly adopted by them.
However, the proliferation of online and offline touch points is a challenge for companies when they make critical decisions regarding customer experience management. One of the key areas being alignment, so that customers receive a cohesive experience regardless of the touchpoint.
An industry veteran in helping companies fine-tune and enhance their customer experience, Abhijit Banerjee, Servion Global Solutions vice president and region head APAC, shares the top three customer experience tips that companies need to consider when building digital customer experience, for a mature market such as Australia.
Digital footprints lead the way
Customers these days are empowered by the digital touch points available to interact with brands. At each touch point, customers leave footprints behind, providing insights into their behaviour on websites, mobile phones or tablets.
With the help of technology, companies are able to track and compile data from these footprints to build a customer profile, which can provide insights on customers’ preferences and interests.
These insights are essential for companies to address customer needs and provide more dedicated and relevant services. How companies respond using the data will determine if it can create a positive relationship between the customer and the brand.
For example, most banks have started providing online banking services. By analysing the frequency and amount a customer spends on online purchases, banks are able to identify active online shoppers as well as their interests in product categories or content preferences.
These insights can be further utilised to deliver services that are more relevant to customer needs. In the day and age of shortened attention spans, relevance in communication is the only way that consumers remain meaningfully connected to your brand. In this case, instead of promoting house loans, banks can now address online shopping discounts to the interested customer.
Taking a step back, in the process of designing and implementing digital technologies, companies need to think about what kind of information they want to retrieve from customers’ digital footprints and how are they going to leverage on the collected data.
This can help businesses optimise the benefits of adopting digital channels and justify their investment in the technology.
Reduce customer effort
The growing concerns among brands to improve their customer experience has become a key contributor to the proliferation of digital channels. Ideally, integrated and omni-channel solutions will allow companies to generate seamless and cohesive customer experience across all channels.
In one word, omni-channel can be described as effortless. When a customer calls in, the agent knows the history of that particular customer such as account information, recent transactions and potential needs.
This could help provide the agent with the right information to craft a personalised response. Predicting the customer’s intent helps to create the feeling of effortlessness for customers – it can help save time and improve their experience.
It also reduces frustration as customers dislike repeating themselves whenever they change from one interaction channel to another.
Nevertheless, there still remains uncertainties in identifying the exact approach to integrate existing and new touch points with customers. In fact, among the companies that recognise the importance of building an omni-channel strategy, most reported an unsatisfying performance level in customer experience delivery.
Siloed customer touch points may harm customer loyalty which leads to adversely affected sales and reputation. Therefore, businesses should consider optimising existing interaction channels and improving digital effectiveness as their short-term goal, while aiming to establish a holistic customer experience platform including content personalisation, data analytics and customer profiling in the long term.
Taking this into consideration, if your customers are interacting with you mostly from their mobile phones – start with that first.
Not always the human touch
Although digitisation has become the irresistible trend in customer experience, human interactions are essential when companies engage with unhappy customers or reach out for potential customers. What companies need to be aware is that flat and cold mechanical responses do not have the same impact as human interaction.
An angry customer with his card retained by an ATM machine cannot be pacified by pre-recorded messages when he contacts the bank for help.
Chances are at that point, the customer’s trust in the brand that has been slowly built for years, is on the verge of collapse. Therefore, human interactions will still play an indispensable role in improving customer satisfaction.
It is important that a worried customer hears from a friendly human voice, promising that the problem will be solved. However, under other circumstances, following simple and clear instructions to complete a transaction through a touch screen becomes a better choice for most customers.
With self-service making a comeback next year, customers are beginning to adopt a Do-It-Yourself mind-set when it comes to finding answers to a query they have about a product or service.
Considering the varying preferences for digital or human services under different situations, companies need to analyse the various situations and take a focussed direction.
For situations where instructions are needed, what brands have to do is to offer a user-friendly ecosystem to easily look for the right answers. They must ensure that the necessary references (FAQs on websites, extensive menu options on IVRs, etc) are in place to help their customers help themselves.
Customer-centricity is a journey, not a destination. The expectations of customer have never been greater or more complex.
The reality is that customer experience will continue being a major driver in boardroom discussions on overall brand value. It is therefore important to recognise that becoming customer centric doesn’t happen overnight but do overcome the inertia and take the first step forward today.
Article by Servion