About 42% of unhappy customers across the globe would take revenge on a service provider by posting an online review or sharing their negative customer experience (CX) on social media.
This is the word from Julia Ahlfeldt, CX adviser and management consultant at Julia Ahlfeldt CX Consulting, giving a keynote presentation at the ITWeb CX 2019 Summit in Johannesburg today.
Discussing the evolution of CX over the years, Ahlfeldt explained that emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) play an important role in enhancing the customer journey by increasing loyalty and helping organisations to retain customers. These are key drivers to growing their market share.
However, she also highlighted the important role played by technology in creating powerful, assertive consumers, who require more value-based services and will stop at nothing to get them.
Referring to findings of a survey conducted by Julia Ahlfeldt CX Consulting and its research partners, Ahlfeldt said the power of providing valuable consumer experiences was under-appreciated by most organisations, resulting in negative customer experiences, which are the “silent killers” of most brands.
“CX has become so crucial that research indicates that by 2020, it will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. But most brands still invest so much more in other areas of their business, such as marketing campaigns,” noted Ahlfeldt.
“Customers are willing to pay more for a good CX. Technology has played a significant role in empowering consumers, not only with access to information and helping them decide where they spend their money, but also by enabling them to demand better services and products, providing them with a powerful voice to express their concerns via online platforms.”
According to the research conducted by CX Consulting, about 99% of unhappy consumers verbally shared their negative experiences with friends and family, while 51% of frustrated customers said they would never use the service provider again. Another 42% said they would take their frustrations online and another 5% said they would inform the media about their experience.
“Brands need to understand that every experience they are putting out there creates a reputation,” said Ahlfeldt. “If customers are having negative experiences and they’re telling everybody else about those negative experiences, that becomes emotional baggage attached to the organisation.
“With more people sharing their negative experiences, over time it becomes very difficult to shake off the negative perception. No matter how much marketing and positive messaging an organisation tries to put into the world, this negative image continues to follow it.”
Over the past decade, CX has witnessed an exciting and interesting shift as smartphone penetration increases across the globe.
While digital transformation presents infinite opportunities for brands, it’s also a scary period for those who do not understand the vital role of implementing a CX strategy that is premised on emerging technologies, noted Ahlfeldt.
“Adopting service technology helps companies manage their increasing consumer demands, helping them to better understand their customers, develop intimate relationships and ultimately become superheroes at providing innovative customer service and solutions.”
She highlighted three ways in which organisations can use AI to change customer experiences: using customer-facing solutions (chatbots, personalisation); using behind-the-scenes CX enablers (employee support systems); and implementing virtual and augmented reality solutions, which consist of tools to blend both the digital and real world.
“When you think of AI, there are so many different ways in which it can help organisations deliver great experiences. These can be broken down into three buckets, creating personalised experiences for customers through personalised messaging and creating experiences that customers can see and feel, without them being physically present in the store.
“The second one has to do with behind-the-scenes interactions and how organisations use AI to support employees; for example, the digital customer assistant used by MultiChoice contact centre agents to help them tackle complicated consumer queries.”
The third bucket, Ahlfeldt explained, has to do with augmented and virtual reality. She referenced an American chain of luxury department stores, Nordstrom, which is bringing modern technology and old-school customer service together through its flagship omni-channel experience that allows customers to virtually try on clothing, assisted by stylists, prior to placing their order.
“AI is the bedrock of augmented and virtual reality, and many organisations have only just begun to scratch the surface of all the ways in which we can use these technologies to interface with customers. This opens up an entire world to what was once a bricks-and-mortar store and transporting consumers across the globe to not only make purchases, but to also get a good quality experience.”