How do you think customers will be like in the “New Normal?”
Let’s face it: it isn’t anything like the normal we had before COVID-19. Or at least, for several years to come.
Both businesses and customers will feel it in every transaction they make. Recessions are hitting economies left and right.
In the middle of this seeming doom and gloom, is Customer Experience (CX) still the most crucial aspect of businesses?
The answer? Yes, it should be.
Studies show that focusing on CX is a winning strategy even during times of recession. Research also shows that more than 80% of companies that put CX as a priority reported an uptake in profits.
Tech giant Adobe’s research data also showed that about 50% of companies they surveyed don’t have a principal CX strategy beyond the usual means. 36% of them think they need to define a holistic approach.
How do businesses adjust to this handicap and still provide the best customer experience?
Focus on your commitment
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about genuine human commitment in businesses to care about their customers. Empathic enterprises are more likely to succeed than those who keep a traditional “cold” approach.
All you have to do is keep to that commitment – whatever product or service you’re giving. Make your products and your brand more accessible to customers, negotiate with mobility impediments, and be concise with messaging.
You can also openly support causes that you can align with your brand’s personality and culture. All these are part of the current needs of customers, who are also recovering from distress. 64% of socially responsible brands reported growth in purchases in the last two years. This indicates that even before the pandemic hit, companies that care create better relations with customers.
Furthermore, a recent Salesforce survey shows that 76% of customers expected companies to understand their problems and meet expectations. This is backed by a global survey this time by Capgemini in 2017 that says a lack of consumer-centricity in businesses cost them 69 Net Promoter Score (NPS) points.
The NPS system is a management tool used to gauge the loyalty of a brand or organisation’s customer relationships.
You’d also find that organisations, companies, or brands that display authenticity rate better than competitors. It’s a far cry from manipulative strategies devised by some marketers in the post-Industrial Revolution days. Today, brand authenticity is what rakes in the sales of successful companies.
One splendid example of success by truthfulness is Dove and its Real Beauty women empowerment campaign, which launched in 2004. The campaign aligned the whole of Dove’s marketing, content, and messaging to their mission statement: “We have a vision of a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety.”
The brand celebrated 10 years of its campaign with an amazing sales improvement. Sales leapfrogged from $2.5 billion in its launch year to $4 billion in 2014. The campaign has since been renamed the “Dove Self-Esteem Project” and continues upholding its cause to this day.
There’s more to the quality of the brand itself and how you become the image you want to be. If you’re aiming to improve your CX, you also have to increase viewership.
Maximise your interaction channels
Just because social media is in full bloom right now doesn’t mean companies are getting the most out of them. Are you getting sales from clicks from your social channels?
A GlobalWebIndex report reveals that 43% of internet users browse social media pages to research potential purchases. In the same statement, 27% of internet users are said to discover new products through social media ads.
In another study by Adobe and PAC reveals that digital interactions are still underutilised. While around 40 to 45% of companies have poured investments in these channels, 60% or so believe they have not efficiently integrated or use digital interaction well.
Take good care in planning your social media content and interactions. With the New Normal bringing more internet activity, companies delivering an Omni-channel effect are seen to grow fastest.
These companies that practice customer-centric engagement through a wide-reaching network enjoy a 10% Year-On-Year growth, according to data from Adobe. In addition, they exhibit a 10% increase in average order value and 25% surge in close rates.
Let’s take a look at how you can expand your interaction channels.
THE CONSUMER BASE: B2C COMMUNICATIONS
It’s a bit of a surprise that many people are actually becoming more private in the age of social media. Mobile is now the king of usage when it comes to device and internet usage. About 52% of people using the internet access it through mobile, with desktop and other means on a decline.
When talking about content, about 63% of social media users feel more comfortable using messaging apps than in public discussions.
This has led around 50% of marketers to consider shifting their strategies towards inserts in private channels. You might have noticed ads in platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp – which currently have 1.3 billion and 1.6 billion users, respectively. Now those are just two of several big communications apps.
THE PARTNERSHIP BASE: B2B COMMUNICATIONS
Communicating to end consumers has been a big focus for many businesses. Strangely, companies are not yet adopting the experience for B2B clients.
Service firms catering to businesses are just not maximising their potential in connecting with potential partners. Despite the sudden recessions in various parts of the world, B2B companies are growing fast.
Amazon Business, the B2B arm of Amazon, is estimated to be valued at $31 billion in less than five years. Many fast-rising B2B companies are also needing support. It’s just a clear indication that a market is waiting to be catered to.
Note that every customer counts if you want to create an authentic omnichannel experience.
Collect and organise data efficiently
There’s a wealth of data thanks to the permeating power of social listening tools built- in with digital interactions. However, the ability to use this data is severely hindered by data silos.
Limited access to valuable customer data is the primary cause of slow CX improvement. Adobe and PAC’s study shows that 90% of their surveyed companies collect data and customer profiles. The respondents were mainly medium to big companies in Europe.
However, only select departments were allowed viewing access to this data in about 70% or so of the respondents. Even worse, in large companies, especially financial firms, access to Customer Relations Management (CRM) and data analytics is severely restricted.
What does this mean?
Customer data is being collected through various means, stored in multiple silos, and are only accessible to a select few decision-makers. The upside might mean a little point for security, but it severely hinders company departments from collaborating to improve CX. Data is fragmented and so also increases the difficulty for management executives to get the whole picture of customer feedback.
In response to this, more than 50% of the surveyed European companies wanted to upgrade their data analytics technology. They want to integrate these data sources to obtain a 360° view of the customer journey. The most significant percentage of firms that want to invest in incorporating analytics mechanisms are in the wholesale and retail industries.
Joint projects that can create better CX are best made when data and ideas are made to work together. Forbes contributor Blake Morgan cites her conversation with VP of Customer Experience for Slack Ali Rayl in discussion with Forbes contributor Blake Morgan, explaining how they connected Engineering and Service efforts.
As Slack grew as a company, its leadership realised that knowing everything is too big a responsibility for one person. They started to hand over leadership roles for specific areas, so customers are served more quickly and directly. Questions were filtered and forwarded to respective specialists in service, or Engineering for changing products as needed. This system was the fruit of cooperation between Engineering and Service, ensuring customers received efficiently in an intuitive manner.
Customer satisfaction through experience still ranks as one of the top priorities for any business in 2020 and beyond. The myriad tools and channels we can use are now readily available, so it’s best to maximise their application.
There are still challenges to be faced in reaching out to customers. The distress caused by the corona virus pandemic will linger on for several more years, so it’s essential to be mindful. Genuine concern and readiness to be involved with the community boosts trust and evokes a positive brand identity.
Adjusting your company’s feelers for the shifting needs of the markets you serve is always a worthwhile effort. It’s best to invest in the right tools to gather and analyse data, as well as creating a customer-centric strategy.
The fruit of these efforts will reflect on your organisation’s image, productivity, and best of all – improved relationships with customers. When it comes down to principle, business is a humankind of interaction, after all.
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