As businesses seek to find their edge in today’s rapidly-evolving digital environment, delivering a consistent, personalized and seamless customer experience across multiple channels has become a top priority for many businesses, both large and small.
This is even more crucial now when consumers have easy access to information, and can conveniently compare prices and shop across brands online. Social networking and open information sharing have pretty much shaken up the traditional customer-brand relationship, leaving only businesses that consistently deliver impressive experiences at every touchpoint to emerge as the winners.
In this business environment, it is clear that businesses can no longer rest on their laurels. Businesses must now adapt to the digital age or risk being obsolete. IDC expects that 80% of B2C and 60% of B2B businesses to have overhauled their ‘digital front door’ by 2018 to allow them to support 1,000 to 10,000 times as many customers/customer touchpoints as they do today.
LogMeIn, together with management consulting company Fifth Quadrant, recently conducted a study titled ‘Optimizing the customer experience in India and South East Asia’ and found that it is critical for businesses to deliver a great experience to consumers as it has a direct impact on loyalty and advocacy.
Nearly eight out of every 10 study respondents indicated they will stop doing business with a company after a bad experience, with 72 percent indicating they would advise family and friends to do the same.
So, what can businesses do to optimize the customer experience for business success?
1. Keep a pulse on your customers
First, businesses need to gain an in-depth understanding of consumers’ buying behavior and channel preferences, so that they can tailor their customer engagement strategy towards building confidence and trust. This can be achieved using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods, or simply by talking to customers and listening to their feedback.
Also, providing open feedback channels where customers can conveniently relate their positive or negative experiences at different touch points, as well as offer comments and suggestions obviously helps pave the way for businesses to better understand their customers’ challenges and preferences.
Additionally, consumers these days are open to, or may even prefer to, connect and communicate with businesses online. According to the same study mentioned, half of all consumers turn to online channels first when they have a query. Consumers are also normally more willing to share more in-depth information as long as it delivers a faster and more effective query resolution, in a personalized and seamless manner. This development presents an opportunity for businesses to look into new technologies, such as Internet of Things and Remote Support, to assist with quicker response times and resolution.
2. Be there, when they need you
When communicating with a business, consumers expect a response within 10 minutes on average when on online chat and on the telephone. This is a standard that businesses should strive to meet and, if possible, exceed. Consumers are time poor and long waiting times in reaching a representative, who can provide information or help them resolve an issues, can obviously be frustrating.
Businesses need to ensure that they have the right processes, resources and technologies in place in their communication channels setup to meet this customer expectation. Providing customers with easy access to a representative is the first step in the right direction when building a positive customer experience.
Furthermore, businesses will need integrated systems that can allow them to track customer history across channels. These systems are essentials for businesses if they aim to deliver a seamless experience. That is, delivering an experience where the customer does not need to repeat his/her personal information, or his/her enquiry, when interacting across channels with the same business.
3. Take the load off their shoulders
Finally, customer experiences should be founded on simplicity. For instance, complicated service menus common on telephone enquiry lines is well known to annoy consumers. Understand that callers on the hotline because they are eager to access certain information or to get to particular issues/problems resolved quickly in the first place.
Interestingly, our study has found that on average, consumers use three channels to resolve their query. In an ideal situation, consumers should be able to find the answer to their question through any channel of their choice without the need to switch to alternative channels.
The same study also revealed that highly satisfied consumers are more likely to be advocates of a brand or business. They are also more likely to increase their spending and tenure with the business. As there are significant costs involved in losing and regaining a customer, it is critical for businesses to focus on retaining and nurturing existing customers. A sound enterprise-wide customer engagement and experience strategy allows businesses to do just that -- deliver higher levels of consumer engagement for continued business success.
By Daniel Cran, APAC Director, LogMeIn