Image credit: Marvin Meyer, Unsplash
As the covid pandemic ravaged the world, organizations were forced to adapt and position digital platforms and channels at the forefront of their businesses. The move enabled them to overcome unforeseen challenges and even provided them with the means to thrive.
There is; however, one outlier to this trend– customer service (CS) or, the larger focus – customer experience (CX). For many, the events of the last 18 months exposed gaps in business capabilities relating to customer engagement.
Unfortunately, this also comes at a time when CX is more important than ever, as the pandemic becomes endemic. To effect change and improvement, this is a technology problem that marketing leaders with customer experience or service considerations need to prioritize.
For brands that have an element of consumer-facing interaction, whether e-commerce, retail banking, or insurance, customer enquiries have increased in volume within the last year. In recent research that Infobip carried out across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, 54% of respondents cited support enquiries as a top challenge faced for customer support.
“Mobile chat apps saw a notable change in terms of communication method of choice by customers who are seeking to receive support.”
The trend was even more common in Singapore – with 63% of respondents finding an uptick in support queries to be challenging. As lives continue to change and with businesses transforming faster than ever, the challenge around CX has now become even greater.
It could be argued that this era will see technologies and marketers stepping up to support customer experiences more than ever. Responding faster and doing so over digital platforms, as all aspects of life move online, is now the competitive advantage. Research from Customer Contact Week suggests that 82% of customers are more comfortable using digital channels now.
Let’s look at how technology is a driver for better brand experiences. Firstly, the platforms that customers are using require integration.
They use whatever platform is convenient for them and, as such, it is up to marketing leaders to establish how to integrate that into a seamless experience. The goal: Enable customer data and records to be mapped across all communication channels.
“While automation today is Interactive Voice Response, SMS and chatbots, the future can be much more advanced.”
Mobile chat apps saw a notable change in terms of communication method of choice by customers who are seeking to receive support. According to the Customer Contact Week report, 46% of those surveyed are turning to WhatsApp for customer service – that’s a huge percentage of customers expecting to find integration for the support they are seeking.
In Asia, there is also a requirement to build a local and global approach at the same time, incorporating locally embedded platforms, such as Line or WeChat.
Secondly, the scale of incoming requests and the recent increase in engagement places a demand on IT to deliver better automation. This is to ensure more customer enquiries will not result in deeper frustrations.
Ideally, as requests and interactions continue to grow, the platform should become more intelligent as it works towards boosting efficiencies and, by virtue, cost savings. While automation today is Interactive Voice Response, SMS and chatbots, the future can be much more advanced.
Thirdly, CX is an ongoing data management challenge. Customer data must be treated appropriately with privacy and, as such, necessary regulations are a basic requirement. However, working with data also presents an opportunity. Turning that data into a business asset is a strategic consideration for technology leaders to provide so they can create competitive advantages.
Take King Power Click in Thailand, for example. King Power Click – a fast-growing technology company under the King Power Group, with core business units including e-commerce, online marketplaces and gift delivery – was looking for a way to improve data security when communicating with customers.
“In a future of driverless cars, smart buildings, and intelligent workplaces, how brands prepare to be seamlessly connected in the smart city infrastructure and ensure CX meets expectations, will all change drastically.”
Its main goal had been focused on streamlining the overall online shopping experience safely – from before purchase to after delivery.
By identifying and introducing SMS as a new and efficacious communication channel for customers to receive notifications, alerts and one-time PINs securely, King Power Click managed to optimize its processes and offer a seamless purchasing experience for customers.
As a result, customer satisfaction increased by up to 15%. The number of KPC loyalty card members also increased, implying safety assurance.
The challenge and opportunity for marketing leaders dealing with CX is also about quickly adapting to and adopting emerging technologies for their benefit. Accelerating organization-wide digital transformation sees the integration of emerging technologies that change the potential of what’s possible with customer engagement. Business leaders should look at their vision to better understand how the entire organization can start to benefit from this now.
For example, beyond automation is the coming future of a CX segment that is built on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The world is already interacting with chatbots that are AI-powered – if anything, the opportunity here is broader.
Can AI be used to make predictions on likely requests or complaints? How about providing support with the organization with manpower?
The link from Internet of Things to CX is one based on future communications needs, with the advent of smart city environments. In a future of driverless cars, smart buildings, and intelligent workplaces, how brands prepare to be seamlessly connected in the smart city infrastructure and ensure CX meets expectations, will all change drastically.
The question to ask – as customer expectations heightened with familiarity and frequency of using digital customer service formats, how will this inevitable scenario alter communications for organizations?
Technology leaders today need to prioritize digital customer experience opportunities to drive better business. This includes making sure the enablement of customer service and communications can keep up with the pace of change, creating opportunities for differentiation through technology, adopting omnichannel opportunities, and looking ahead towards emerging technologies.
All of these will make sure businesses are prepared for the new communications landscapes they will create.
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