The customer has always been at the heart of every business, be it a street vendor selling hot dogs or a multi-national firm selling a wide range of products. All business have taken necessary measures, so that customers become loyal, provide repeat business, and advocate their products & brand – thereby increasing the customer base. Business mantras like “The Customer Is Always Right”, “der Kunde ist König or The Customer is King”, and “Okyakusama wa kamisama desu or Customer is a God” took birth from such mentality.
If we take a step back and explore the rationale as to why the customer was given such an apex position, we can easily notice the wide range of substitute products available for each product we need or use. Multi-national food & beverage corporations like The Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsi Co. or Consumer companies like Unilever and P&G can be quoted as perfect examples.
In fact, for almost every product we use or consume in our daily life, we can find at least one alternative product. A study by CEB states that customers feel that they can easily find an alternative product for at least 90% of the products available on the market. This has forced the businesses to provide differentiation at various touch points of customer journey, especially customer support. In recent years, providing great customer experience has become the most important thing for businesses. Organizations have started investing in customer experience and building the company’s strategy with customer experience at the core.
“The cost of bad experience is around $ 80.00 billion in USA and $ 300.00 billion across the world” – Huffington Post
Customer Experience (CX) strategy has become the key aspect for many businesses – more important than low-cost. In fact expectations of customer service are increasing every day. A study of customer experience’s impact to a company conducted a few years ago, found that post a single bad experience, almost 89% of the customers stopped doing business with the organization. Furthermore, a recent article by Huffington post states that the cost of bad experiences is around $ 80.00 billion in USA and $300.00 billion across the world – that’s almost four times the revenue of Microsoft Corporation and more than the GDP of the majority of countries. Such is the importance of the good customer experience and support. In the era of voice support, touch points between the customer and business became limited and the area of influence was very little. Any bad experience or hiccups were rarely exchanged among the people and if exchanged they were limited to friends and family.
“Customers are four times more inclined to shift to your competitor if the issue is service related as opposed to price or product related” – Bain & Co.
With the onset of digital channels, the distance between businesses and customers has shortened even more and businesses are able to interact with customers in every walk of their life. This has also changed the way customers interact and search for product information. With most organizations providing services across web and mobile platforms, customers expect a 360 degree omni channel experience. A study by Convergys states that 73% of GenY customers will leave after one bad experience and have no hesitation to go public with their dissatisfaction. These kind of interactions and post-purchase reviews across social media can go viral and put a dent on the company’s reputation and revenue in detrimental ways.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Digital has helped organizations through consumers advocating the brands and products across online channels. Consumers proactively extend help to others with regard to the brands and products they love. Reviews and testimonials at online portals, by loyalists or customers with positive experiences, act as free word of mouth marketing. Digital has also helped simplify the processes eliminating unnecessary human involvement. For example, almost all banking transactions can be done via our mobile, or any sort of e-commerce purchase can be made without leaving our comfort zone. It has made the voice of the customer easily accessible and organizations are able to form opinions based on it. Hence it becomes imperative to provide great customer support that can garner great customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy – digital can help you reach there. Over the last few years, many organizations have started investing in improving their online customer experience. A study by Forrester states that more than 63% of the businesses are still looking to further improve their customer’s online experience in the coming year. Many of them have outsourced contact center operations and some have maintained in-house customer support. Due to rapid advancements, contact center technology systems need to be modified quite often and hence it is quite important to invest in solutions which provide agility to upgrade/ downgrade or modify with ease. Contact center software solutions should provide long term value both in terms of cost and performance and not just one which is of low cost.
Another important aspect of customer support is the channel of interaction between the customer and the organization. Over the past few years interaction channels have grown rapidly. Be it chat, web, mobile or social channels like twitter, Facebook etc., customers tend to interact using whichever channel is more convenient at that point of time. Providing support via multiple channels is a must in the current digital world and making sure that interactions are not siloed, but consistent across various channels, will provide businesses with a great edge over competitors. This true omnichannel experience also provides a platform for great customer experiences, thereby creating loyal customers and brand advocates. Digital has also helped businesses to reduce the burden on customer executives with the help of self service features. Interactive voice response, chat bots, FAQs etc. have replaced unnecessary human intervention where queries are repetitive in nature or simple. Customers are able to get their queries resolved easily without waiting in queues.
The digital world has brought customers & businesses closer together than ever before and enabled the businesses to rectify/resolve customer grievances as soon as possible. Businesses can track the customer choices, analyze and deliver products which their consumers desire most. The tools are readily available for the businesses to use and provide great customer experience and it is up to them to make use of the opportunity and stay in the race or perish. Either go digital or die.
Sandeep Kuvvarapu, is a customer experience advocate and product marketing & strategy manager at Ameyo, one of the leading call center software solutions provider in Asia Pasific. Ameyo provides solutions both on-premise and cloud platforms and caters to wide range of customers not limited to leading BFSIs, BPOs, Government Organizations, Healthcare, E-Commerce & Consumer Tech etc. Ameyo received an honorable mention in the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for both 2016 and 2015, Frost & Sullivan’s Asia Pacific Contact Center Infrastructure Price/Performance Value Leadership Award for 2016, and others. With 1600+ customers in more than 60 countries, Ameyo aims at providing optimal customer experience or customer delight at every path of customer journey, with minimal effort from businesses.