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Keeping up with the modern customer

Modern customers’ service expectations are increasing rapidly, which is why businesses need the right technology to help them keep pace.

Johannesburg, 18 Jul 2019
Read time 4min 00sec
Arun Pattabhiraman, Vice President - Growth & Marketing, FreshWorks.
Arun Pattabhiraman, Vice President - Growth & Marketing, FreshWorks.

Modern customers are a lot more difficult to please than they were just a generation ago. Today’s customers are, after all, digitally informed and driven by convenience, with about half of them making it very clear that they expect a better experience today than they did just two years ago.

This demonstrates that customer expectations are not merely changing, but are becoming greater than ever before. In essence, today’s customers expect frictionless engagement, undertaken on their terms, and conducted via the channels of their choice.

This is more than just an expectation, says Arun Pattabhiraman, vice-president: growth and marketing at FreshWorks. He suggests that if businesses do not want to lose these customers, they will have to deliver what the customers demand.

“Moreover, when it comes to customer experience (CX), most customers' minimum expectations for future service are based on whatever their previous best experience was. This means that the baseline for good service is always being elevated further, making it increasingly difficult for companies to ensure that they are able to meet these inflated expectations,” Pattabhiraman says.

“Remember that customers today have more information than ever at their fingertips, and coupled to the power of choice, this makes them increasingly hard to please. Brands today can thus no longer offer disconnected 'multi-channel' experiences, as modern customers often conduct a single transaction across several channels and expect such a process to be seamless. Therefore, they need to leverage technology to make customer journeys seamless across multiple touchpoints and allow them to have context-enriched conversations, whenever and wherever they begin.”

Pattabhiraman adds that brands are often present across multiple channels, usually without an overarching strategy. Channels and teams function in silos, preventing the free flow of context across the lifecycle of each customer's interactions.

The problem is that when all channels of engagement aren't unified by a single view of the customer, journeys are broken and create friction. Agents will not have access to the historical context they need to engage as effectively as they can, and customers will have to constantly repeat themselves. It is vital to break channel and functional silos to create truly seamless conversations. Nonetheless, there are things that can be done to ensure the business has a truly unified view of the customer.

“Brands need to leverage the right technology platform to establish a 360-degree view of a customer across channels and functions,” says Pattabhiraman. Using a single, flexible platform makes it easier to create this unified view, which will, in turn, ensure that they are aware of contacts by the same customer across other channels, as well as past transactions, history with the brand and anything else needed to engage with effect.

“In addition, they need a scalable platform that both their agents and their customers will be comfortable with. Having everything required on a single platform is a sensible option, as it means they can pull in 360-degree data, engage with customers on their channels of choice and have delightful conversations at scale.”

They also need to put customer data to good use, explains Pattabhiraman, in order to deliver experiences that are personalised and go the extra mile. Brands must further use data insights to gain a deep understanding of customer behaviour in order to anticipate needs before they arise, and thus offer proactive help before customers even ask for it.

“It should also be noted that in the fast-evolving world we live in, effective omni-channel engagement is only the beginning,” adds Pattabhiraman. “Artificial intelligence (AI) and bots are breaking new ground in elevating customer experiences. AI is scaling self-service and expanding its reach across channels. This not only eases the burden on agents but also gives customers what they prefer: an effective way to solve their own problems.

“Bots are also helping brands eliminate the constraints of normal working hours by delivering round-the-clock support. Most excitingly, AI is being deployed to offer proactive support at points where they might be needed the most, based on an intelligent understanding of customer behaviour patterns and expectations.

“In other words, the future of the customer experience is not only omni-channel, but more critically, it will also be intelligent," Pattabhiraman concludes.

To download The Ultimate Guide to Omni-channel Customer Service, click here.

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