The pandemic has resulted in more people of all generations using a wider variety of digital technologies in both their personal and business lives than ever before. With customers’ expectations forever evolving and increasing, new buying behavior trends will emerge.
A survey conducted by Futurum Research in North America and Europe revealed that 57 percent said their entire business model needed to be reconsidered in the wake of Covid-19.
A lot of companies will now have to review their offerings and services, customer experience and ‘best practice’ processes and models as they may be inefficient to work with new technologies and meet the expectations of staff and customers.
Companies need to focus on how they can continue to meet their customers’ evolving expectations by delivering the products and services they want, when, where and how they want it. A seamless experience is required to remain competitive.
Today, companies are having to face some of the biggest changes they have ever encountered to rebuild and survive.
The new customer
A global pandemic has not pressed stop on rising customers’ expectations. In fact, if anything it’s pressed fast forward. Deloitte and Touche stated that 40 percent of people aged 16-75 did more online shopping during lockdown. When asked if they would consider still shopping online after lockdown half stated they would. Online banking has also surged, with 22 percent more people using it than previously. When lockdown has ended over 60 percent stated that they plan to continue banking online.
The increase in online shopping will almost likely mold consumer behaviors for years to come. It’s probably going to be some time before we can try clothes on in shops therefore more people will continue to shop for fashion online and with ‘free returns’ they may continue to do so.
Digital technology and how it defines the customer experience, is what will differentiate businesses from the new online competition, driving customer loyalty and sales.
Seamless customer journey
A seamless customer journey is vital to success, customers expect a superior level of service with an end-to-end process that is easy to use and slick. From the starting point of looking for information, purchasing, delivery, answering queries and returns.
Customer experience is everything, and PwC states that 32 percent of customers will walk away from a brand they love after only one single bad experience. And with social media all bad or even sub standards level of service will be freely communicated to the outside world.
PwC also revealed that investment in the omni-channel experience has jumped to 80 percent in 2020. Customers want 24/7 access, on demand services, today with the ‘everything now’ culture they are less willing to wait.
Customers also expect a personalized service particularly with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Spotify leading with it and personalizing their services to make life easier.
Accenture survey revealed that a staggering 91 percent of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them. Providing a personalized service and make the customer feel valued, resulting in loyalty to the brand.
Customer needs are evolving all the time, and the next step is immersing the customer in the experience, often coined ‘customer agency’. Think of interactive TV programs where you can select where the program is going, video games, online escape rooms which have increase during lockdown. During Covid-19 companies are also innovating using virtual reality or augmented reality to show products or hold events.
If companies don’t keep innovating and evolving, then they will lose out to the companies that do.
Other digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) if implemented can improve your customer service and help personalize it.
Power of integration
It is no good deploying the latest digital technology if you are going to use it in isolation. The premise of digital transformation is to integrate technology with your existing systems and into your front and back office processes for it to be a success.
It is advised that you work closely with a Solutions Provider who will help you look at your company’s objectives and study your customers journey and processes. You can then ascertain what is going wrong and the areas that you want to improve on, using technology to help you rectify it.
Companies that excel in offering a great customer experience are those that have the ability to expertly blend humans and AI or RPA technology together.
For example, a customer maybe looking at holiday on the travel agent’s website and start talking with a chatbot (using AI technology) about what they are looking for. A chatbot, like BiziBOT can provide them with a list of options and take them through an online journey to booking a holiday dependent on their responses. If needed (or they would prefer) they could be passed through to agent. The agent that is connected with the customer will gain all the relevant personal details from when they were talking with BiziBOT, meaning the agent can deliver a personalized service and immediately continue the conversation.
This process has streamlined the sales process by reducing waiting times and wasted transfers, and the enquiry is only passed to the human for a higher level of service. Therefore, saving the human agents for high value enquiries only and off-loading basic (or even more complex!) enquiries to the chatbot. The conversation can be further enhanced with the use of screen sharing and even video interaction to provide a guided, multimedia experience without the need for the consumer to leave their armchair!
AI is also perfect for matching products with customers providing the ability to upsell and pitch products to customers based on their searches and purchase information. Skilled companies use AI to not only improve customer service and processes but also to capture the data that is collected and use it to make intelligent decision for sales and marketing.
Intelligent decision making
Due to digital technologies the amount of data that is captured is vast and companies should utilize this intelligence to drive business and customer service forward. Data is their currency, the more they know about their customers’ profiles the more that they can sell to them and pitch their products or services to.
The opportunities are endless, and the technology can be designed to discover a whole host of things about your customers to understand more about them, capturing data at every touchpoint. This achieved through algorithms that track their movements online, interactions, purchase history and behavior. All helping to improve the customer experience overall.
Smart companies will pre-empt your purchase, so if you recently bought face cream and the company knows you may be running out then they notify you asking if you want some more.
Challenges that companies face
Life has probably never been so tough for companies to remain competitive and up to speed with today’s trends and customers buying behavior. Yet at the same time it has never been so exciting with the digital technologies that are available and the limitless possibilities of what can be achieved to create new products, services and improvements.
The challenge is to remain innovative and to keep evolving. However, a lot of companies don’t know where to start and are fearful are stepping into the unknown but realize they have no choice to remain in the race. Without a doubt digital transformation is a mammoth task but it must be viewed as an ongoing strategy to your business such as sales and marketing, HR etc.
At this point in time, it will be difficult to get financial approval for projects, but you can start with the basics and implement digital technologies that can make a difference to your customer’s journey such as an AI or RPA solution in your contact center, a chatbot on your website to handle digital interactions. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming at all.
By working with a Solutions Provider, they will be able to assist in you with what you need to do to improve your customers’ journey and what technology should be used. They can also pilot it to reduce risk and you don’t have to recruit if you don’t have the skills in house because you will have access to technical capabilities and the latest digital technologies.
This way you can embark on your digital journey to improve your customer experience, processes and start to capture the data that provide the intelligence to drive your customers and revenue in the right direction.
Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies