Customer experience has become a buzzword in the past few years, and even more so since the arrival of COVID-19. But what exactly is customer experience, and why is it important for your business to adopt a customer-first mindset?
Having been in the digital marketing game for close to a decade, the customer has always been the top priority for me. Therefore, it felt quite natural when I moved into a Customer Experience role, where I find myself channeling customers daily and putting myself in their position to try and develop customer journeys to enhance their experience. We are all aware that a happy customer is the best customer as the cost of keeping a satisfied customer is far outweighed by the cost of acquiring a new customer (it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one). Therefore, customer retention is key, and to get there you need satisfied customers!
The recent pandemic has had a tremendous impact on most organisations and the customer experience they have been delivering in the past few months. There was a scurry to ensure that employees were set up for a work-from-home environment with the correct equipment and technology, and that they were equipped to do their job without having direct access to their managers and teams. There was an extreme push to digitize the workforce in record time to try and mitigate as much downtime as possible.
As much as the pandemic gave some organisations the nudge that they may have needed to rethink their operational procedures and ways of working, I feel that the forever changing digital landscape and consumers’ preferences should never allow us to remain ‘static’ for too long. We should consistently look for better ways of working and enhancing business processes to ensure that we remain ahead of the curve. Collaboration across all levels and departments within an organisation can assist with driving a customer-centric approach and help to better understand customer needs.
When considering the numerous touchpoints that a customer may encounter during their lifetime with a brand/company, the fundamental aspect is to ensure that the customer has a consistent brand journey across all of these touchpoints. Let’s use a call center environment where Telco contracts are sold as an example – the customer may have applied on a network’s website or may be due for an upgrade, so they will be contacted by an outsourced call center where an agent will be acting on the network’s behalf. A sale would be concluded on a sales call where pre-approval is acquired; thereafter, the network will advise on final approval before the order is released to a 3rd party courier so a delivery appointment can be set and the package delivered. Once delivered, the product then needs to be RICA’d and activated before the customer can start using it. In this short, simple example, we can already see the multiple touchpoints and various interactions the customer will experience, and that is before we even consider the need for customer support, monthly billing and the lifetime interactions of the customer. In order to service this customer efficiently, much integration is required across departments and companies to gain a clear view of where in the transaction process this customer sits. We may know that the process is disjointed across companies/departments, however, the customer should never feel this – they should never be expected to go from pillar and post to find the information they require as, in their minds, it is one interaction.
Customers want to be serviced on their channel of choice and they do not want to be sent on a treasure-hunt to find information. Ensuring there is a consistent message across all interactions is important when considering customer experience. Omnichannel is not new, however, a lot of organisations are still on that journey. When considering how many customers you have and how many customer interactions take place daily, it makes sense to invest in a system which allows you to collaboratively track all interactions. Consider a customer going on your brand’s Facebook page to submit a query, only for your Social Media Team to redirect the customer to the Customer Service mailbox, and potentially that customer then not being satisfied with the response so they resort to calling the customer care number. By the time the customer speaks to an agent who can assist them, they may have explained their query at least 3 times, and their patience levels have been tested to say the least. This is the primary shortcoming of a multi-channel approach – you offer the customer multiple channels to choose their touchpoint of choice, but there is no ‘master view’ of their various interactions. An omnichannel solution offers a single view of the customer, consolidating all interactions across multiple platforms, which allows you to service the customer more effectively and in turn brings operational efficiencies.
So, to summarise:
- Ensure there is collaboration across the organisation, try build a customer-centric mindset (entrench this in your company culture) and steer clear of silos.
- Change is good. Make sure you have your finger on the pulse and can recognize changes in consumer behavior or the introduction of new technologies/systems to leverage these to better service your customer.
- Have a consistent message across all touchpoints. From the initial sales pitch, onboarding material, fulfilment process to delivery notifications, social media posts, customer care interactions and all marketing material.
- Customers want to be serviced on their channel of choice, so an omnichannel solution will enhance the customer experience and improve customer satisfaction, not to mention the improvement in internal efficiencies.
- Today’s customers are empowered and have high expectations, so organisations need to listen to their customers or risk losing them to competitors.