Customer expectations soar, loyalty drops

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Vishal Chopra
Vishal Chopra

Customer expectations are soaring and brand loyalty is dropping, so organisations have to put customer experience at the heart of what they do.

This emerged during a webinar hosted by Freshworks, in partnership with ITWeb, on the New CX Mandate for Africa. 

Vishal Chopra, head of marketing, India, ASEAN, Middle East and Africa at Freshworks, and Adré Schreuder, Professor in the Department of Marketing at the University of Pretoria, noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had driven scores of consumers to digital channels, and had raised their expectations of the level of service they should receive there. Omnichannel and artificial intelligence (AI) were increasingly coming to the fore as enablers of improved customer experience, they said.

Prof. Schreuder said: “Despite the changes brought on by the pandemic, the basics of good customer experience haven’t changed – organisations have to listen, learn and adapt. What has changed, however, is the time they have to act on changing customer expectations. Now, customers expect the changes to be made very quickly.”

A poll of webinar participants found that 60% said they were not currently using AI.

He added that customer loyalty to brands is no longer as high as it was in the past; with customers moving on very quickly if an organisation cannot deliver the experience customers expect.

“It’s all about experiences and memories – if you can deliver good memories for your customers, you will reduce churn and ensure high lifetime value,” he said.

Chopra said The New CX Mandate, a research report on the insights and predictions of 1500 customer service leaders across the globe, found that 63% said customer expectations had increased through the crisis.

At the same time, only 56% saw an increase in budget compared to 2019; and 56% are embracing remote or hybrid operating models. “CX leaders now need to improve CX with remote or hybrid workforces, and in some cases with decreased staff numbers,” he said.

A poll of webinar attendees aligned with these findings, with 70% saying customer expectations had increased, while most said their customer service budgets had not increased.

AI, self service and customer service platforms could present solutions to the challenge of improving customer experience to meet increasing expectations, said Freshworks. A poll of webinar participants found that 60% said they were not currently using AI. However, the global research found that 69% of customer service leaders were investing more in AI-enabled chatbots and automation.

Chopra noted that a commissioned Total Economic Impact study conducted by Forrester Consulting had found that Freshworks’ customer support offering, Freshdesk Omnichannel, provides a three-year return on investment (ROI) of 462% for midmarket customers. 

The study shows that Freshdesk Omnichannel meets the needs of increasingly demanding companies, which require solutions that are both easy to roll out and provide an immediate return, with a payback in less than three months on average by reducing handling time per ticket, automating processes to deflect tickets to self-service, and improving agent workflow to provide superior customer service and experiences that create customers for life.

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