Competition in today’s business landscape has never been fiercer. The market is saturated with brands, and companies are competing for customers in a global landscape.
At the same time, customers want to be delighted in their every engagement and with so much choice, they aren’t afraid to move on to another brand that meets their expectations. This is driving the need for companies to implement technology solutions to meet customer expectations and deliver consistent brand experiences in every customer interaction.
Customer experience is the discipline of defining the step-by-step customer journey from marketing through to sales and service. It describes the key capabilities, content, and interfaces that need to be present at each customer touchpoint and how those touchpoints work together to form a cohesive experience.
Customer experience is becoming the most critical factor in a company’s success. Walker Insights anticipates that customer experience will overtake product and price as the most important consideration for selecting a brand by 2020. This is supported by the Forrester CX Index, which found that from 2011 to 2015, companies that scored near the top of the Index increased customer retention, had greater cross-selling opportunities and generated higher revenues than those companies that scored poorly on the index.
To meet evolving customer needs and improve customer experiences, companies need to implement technology solutions that can help accelerate them towards change, shift the way they traditionally do business and empower them to meet their changing customers’ needs.
Embracing technology to enhance customer experience
Various new technologies are coming to the fore, most notably automation, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). However, while it may be tempting to implement these technologies to stay ahead of the competition, companies need to be strategic when implementing new technologies. Customer experience should be central to everything that companies do and technology should be implemented to help companies achieve their business objectives and meet their customer needs.
With this in mind, technology should not replace the human touch that employees deliver in customer interactions. These interactions are important in building brand trust, as customers remember how they were treated. As such, technology should be used to help employees deliver superior service by removing time-consuming, repetitive tasks and providing the tools needed to help them make strategic decisions.
For example, several administrative functions that are performed regularly could be automated with technology so that employees don’t get bogged down handling mundane tasks. By implementing these technologies, employees would already have more time available to add strategic value to customers and the organisation. Furthermore, technology should be used to provide the correct company information to employees regardless of the device they are using or where they are working from, in order to deliver a seamless service from anywhere in the world.
Customer data drives personalisation
Companies would also benefit from using the customer data they have collected over several years. New technologies such as ML enable companies to use big data to uncover customer trends, predict future behaviours and identify new opportunities. This data should be used to make informed business decisions and drive personalisation.
Customers are no longer impressed at receiving information with their name on the top of the email or SMS, they want to know that the companies they are engaging with understand them and know what they want. They are looking for personalised information and offerings based on their personal needs and purchasing patterns.
Technology is key to customer experience
Customer experience should be at the centre of everything companies do and technology should be used to enhance these customer experiences. As such, technology and customer data should be used to provide opportunities for employees to deliver superior customer experiences and build brand trust in every interaction, as it is the human touch that will differentiate brands from each other.
Meeting and exceeding customer expectations is going to be one of the key challenges companies face in 2019. To overcome this, they will need to embrace change, break down silos between divisions and put the customer at the centre of what they do. They will also need to implement technology solutions that enable them to meet the needs of their technology savvy customers while, at the same time, focusing on building trust with them. Technology is key to the success of businesses today, and those that haven’t implemented digital technologies as yet, need to start now if they want to exist in the future.
Paula Sartini is founder and CEO of BrandQuantum, a South African company whose software solutions are available to companies worldwide.
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