Infobip Regional Director APAC Ante Pamukovic says customers want quick, safe and personalised interactions on platforms they love and use regularly, and businesses need to meet this expectation well if they desire brand loyalty.
By Ante Pamukovic
Customer expectations are higher than ever, with improved, slicker interactions fast becoming the new norm – however, though businesses are trying their best to respond, we must admit that a new approach to customer service is now necessary.
While businesses may used to rely on traditional call centres stocked with agents manning phones, this paradigm now faces major issues during a pandemic – whether it be manpower challenges as a result of a reduced number of agents, or work-from-home hampering the fulfillment of customer service needs.
With customer interaction and retention paramount in the challenging economic times ahead, businesses cannot risk customer attrition from customers who are used to instant gratification resulting from digital technology that allows them to always be on. Getting this right could be the difference between business success and failure – according to a global Customer Service Barometer conducted by Amex in 2017, two out of three Singaporeans did not complete a purchase because of poor customer service.
Organisations can’t afford to not pivot their CX function. The transformation of call centres into customer experience centres and improving service levels to match new expectations will be essential if businesses hope to keep up and with keep their customers in trying times.
An omnichannel approach that incorporates SMS, chatbots, and social media is essential to digitally transforming CX, as these are all avenues that should all be considered as vital parts of the CX function. We see that customers are increasingly eager to start their journey with chatbots, driven by the possibility of reaching out via their preferred OTT channels such as WhatsApp or Viber. Chatbots have since emerged as a great way for businesses to increase conversion by prequalifying leads before sharing them upwards for engagement.
However, while businesses may have tried to communicate with customers via multiple channels, it is challenging to make these conversations meaningful. Without integration of CX across multiple channels and a central repository of customer information, context gets lost between interactions – frustrating the customer and making the customer interaction process unfriendly and repetitive. This has potential to hit the business’ reputation, affecting the bottom line.
Businesses need to bring all these insights into a platform that enables them to deliver customer experience while reducing costly inefficiencies. Cloud-based platforms serve this purpose well, where data can be easily shared, platforms can be easily integrated and solutions can be constantly optimised and upgraded. Essentially, businesses must look to ensure that they interact with customers in a personalised and harmonious way.
The personalisation of these interactions will be key to attracting and retaining customers going forward. KPMG’s Customer Experience Excellence Report 2019 finds Personalisation as the most important factor to build and grow customer advocacy and loyalty. Customers respond well when business can demonstrate an understanding of their specific circumstances, or believe that they have been recognised as an individual when sent special offers.
However, businesses can take customer personalisation to the next level by not only tailoring what they communicate to the customer in terms of offers and preferences, but how these communications are handled. Tailoring customer interactions by considering what might be the most convenient way or time to contact a customers to renew their insurance, for example, while also accounting for office hours or distance lowers the inconvenience felt by the customer and puts the customer interaction at their convenience, with the end effect of decreasing customer churn.
Connected consumers expect instant gratification with their CX. To meet the customer where they are, business leaders should also ensure they think ‘mobile first’ when it comes to interactions in Southeast Asia – a region where more than 90% of Internet users are on mobile. Singapore in particular has the highest smartphone adoption rate in the world, at a remarkable 85% of the population owning at least one. As brands are exploring how to stay relevant and engage with users over channels of their choice, we see a move away from engaging via email or voice – with outreach via OTT channels becoming more natural to modern users. These OTT channels, integrated with chatbots, also open up 24/7 availability, which is fast becoming a norm for consumer expectations.
It is also important to recognise that even when the Covid-19 lockdown comes to an end, governments across the world, including Singapore, are likely to continue to advise contactless interactions going forward. This may become a key factor in consumer decision making when choosing a brand in the near future. For example, Ninja Van Singapore, an Infobip customer, saw a large influx in logistics last-mile delivery during Singapore’s Circuit Breaker period, which in turn increased demand for efficient and effective customer communication in order to manage contactless deliveries. Ninja Van managed to achieved this by leveraging Infobip’s integrated platform to achieve real-time communication with their customers.
At the same time, figuring out a clean and seamless way to communicate with a customer without physical contact could be key in getting customers on board, which can be done with a mobile-first approach. This can create a further push towards the use of conversational UI via bot technology, for example.
What is clear is that the way companies approach customer service has to change. Customers want quick, easy, safe and personalised interactions and conversations on the platforms they love and use regularly, and businesses need to learn to meet customers where they are able to maximise loyalty and retention.
(Ed. Featured image by Photographer Cottonbro.)