The new form of customer engagement and how businesses can implement it

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The new form of customer engagement and how businesses can implement it
The acceleration of technology, and in particular digital technology, has transformed consumer habits.
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The pandemic caused innumerable changes to the world around us...

From the way we interact with each other on a daily basis to the way products and services are delivered to customers, businesses in particular have had to cope with untold disruption as a result.

With more Australian consumers having now been introduced to the convenience of e-commerce, the importance of finding meaningful and effective ways to virtually connect has vastly increased. With this change in situation has come a shift in customer expectations – from the products being delivered to customers to the entire purchasing experience.

According to a recent survey of customer service leaders conducted by Freshworks, since February 2020, customer expectations in Australia and New Zealand have increased by close to 60 per cent. For businesses to stay relevant in today’s world, it’s now more important than ever for them to understand customer needs, as well as how they’ve changed over the last year.

The modern buyer

The acceleration of technology, and in particular digital technology, has transformed consumer habits. According to a McKinsey’s Global Survey of executives, conducted in July 2020, rates of digital adoption are years ahead of where they were when previous surveys were conducted. Asia-Pacific in particular is further ahead than other regions – being four years ahead of the average rate of adoption from 2017 to 2019.

Constant upgrades to mobile devices, apps, machine learning, automation and artificial intelligence has meant that customers now want everything instantly. Whether it be information or customer support on a specific task, customers want things to happen their way and at the exact moment they need it. This shift in customer expectations has created a new kind of modern buyer.

Having survived the constant wave of uncertainty amid 2020, and even now into 2021, customers have an innate need to be connected at all times. They expect to be constantly kept in the loop with a business’ daily happenings, whether it be product launches, events, or even upgrades to the network infrastructure. For businesses, this has meant constant updates to IT infrastructure and existing technology, ensuring organisations are able to keep up with the higher levels of demand and deliver unmatched customer experience. 

For sales, marketing and service teams specifically, it means shifting previous ways of working to take a more active approach to customer experience. From using social media to reach out and build relationships, to investing more in data-driven strategies to create targeted messages and even using a multi-channel approach to go above and beyond.

Just the combination of these three strategies is enough to enable businesses to build new experiences to meet the growing demands of customers. But ultimately, personalising CX methods and treating customers as individuals, rather than a collective, is what will really help to ramp it up.

The key to success – personalisation

Personalisation is the holy grail for businesses. However, in order for businesses to provide customers with this kind of service, it is first about investing in an automated customer relationship management (CRM) hub that gathers information from all customer touchpoints. CRM systems act as a single source of truth for the business and provide a 360-degree view of customers, capturing and combining previous interactions and connections in one place.

We already know that customers have a need for instant gratification, buoyed only by the fact that they’re able to get what they want, when they want, and how they want it, as a result of all the technology available to them. Our CX Mandate research report found that 67 per cent of ANZ customer service leaders are investing more in live chat & messaging — a direct response of being forced to remain accessible and on-demand, 24/7,  to cater to the needs of customers.

While there’s no denying the role that live chat plays in personalised CX, the ever-expanding applications of chatbots and AI present new opportunities to elevate this experience. Both were hailed as the silent achievers of the pandemic, acting not only to provide a positive experience for customers, but also to take manual strain off customer service workers.

By using a combination of the three, as well as investing in strong data management systems to gather insights, businesses will be on the road to success in creating a personalised journey for customers.

What’s next?

As companies grapple with evolving customer expectations, digital transformation, multiple online channels, and emerging CX capabilities enabled by mobile apps, chatbots, AI and more, it's more important than ever to ensure customers aren’t left behind.

Take the time to invest in quality CRM software which enables you to deep dive into customer pools and learn the nuances of your customer’s needs. Take the time to ensure that AI and chatbots in business functions are being used to their fullest potential. But more importantly, put the customer at the heart of all decisions.

Sreelesh Pillai is General Manager of Freshworks Australia.

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