Crisis, pandemic, black swan event - whatever you call it, COVID-19 is disruptive. Disruptive to the way we interact with our customers, our plans and goals, and SME businesses as a whole.
But, in times of disruption, there are also opportunities. Enforced downtime could give you and your team space to reflect, get creative and look at ways to improve your technology and processes to make them more resilient, adaptive, and aligned to what your customers actually want.
In this month’s podcast, we talked to Paul Scott, Chief of Platforms and Partnerships for ClearPoint. He helps businesses improve their customer experience through technology.
We’re going to look at some of the pillars of customer experience in this blog, and the different ways technology can enable a more enjoyable, seamless and secure customer experience.
Pillar One: Get personal: Personalisation makes customers feel like you’re interacting with just them, not a standard mass.
The different ways a business can personalise the customer experience include:
- Use customer’s names in all communication. This one is obvious but is often overlooked.
- Make offers and services relevant and based on people’s actual usage. For example, if you are a telco, you could offer a client the opportunity to switch to a different plan because they might not be optimising their current one, or their existing scheme is not enough for their needs.
- Gathering data across time allows you to create a customer profile and look at their usual buying habits. If you advertise a service, based on a one-off product, you could fall into the trap of incorrectly profiling them due to a gift they bought for someone else.
- Successful brands observe their client’s behaviour and gather useful insights which can be used in clever ways to enhance the buying process, and ultimately increase sales. Don’t be creepy about it, though. Always put yourself in your client’s shoes and ask what communication you’d be comfortable receiving.
Do you have the tools to make personalisation possible?
Pillar Two: Think holistically. Is the complete experience seamless, or are there gaps where someone could drop the ball?
Think about the complete end-to-end experience - from how easy it is for clients to find you, contact you and do business with you, how well the courier company communicates and updates your clients on deliveries, to how well you respond to feedback.
Some questions to think about: How easy is it for people to raise a complaint? How reliable and fast is your customer service experience if people raise issues or queries? Do all your team have access to the relevant information they need about the clients and is it updated in a timely and consistent manner? How well-integrated are your different systems?
When we’re all searching for some clarity and certainty, strong policies and systems can help create a consistent and predictable customer experience.
Pillar Three: Look at changing consumer behaviours. How are things going to shift now and post COVID-19?
As we’re about to embark into unprecedented territory, your clients will be looking for different ways to interact with you, especially if you are a retailer or a business that normally sits in the “physical” rather than digital realm. A merging of physical and digital must happen for businesses to survive. This includes the ability for your staff to work remotely, for clients to engage with you through digital media and non-traditional platforms, and to communicate with you through different portals (as the classic landline and mobile network are likely to be overstretched in these times).
Augmented reality and live videos on social media platforms are two ways that technology can enable your clients to remain engaged with your brand when they can’t step in your shop, showroom or consultation space.
Pillar Four: Surprise and delight your customers. People buy and interact based on emotions.
Sometimes a thank you, I’ve been thinking of you, is all it takes to keep your customers happy. Offer people different types of rewards that are catered to their preferences. It’s cheaper and more sustainable to retain your existing clients than it is to always be focused on growth and acquisition. Now, more than ever, is a great time to review your KPI’s. Focusing on retention and continuing customer engagement (such as offering free content and quality advice) is more realistic than smashing your sales targets at this time.
Pillar five: Listen. Give people the opportunity to provide feedback.
Technology can allow you to gather people’s thoughts on your business and what you could do to improve the customer experience. By getting creative through public forums where clients can share their opinions, such as through Facebook or public Trello boards, you can also create an engaged community in the process. Make sure you have a system in place to respond to everyone who offers an opinion.
Pillar six: Avoid silos of technology. Single view CRM’s are the goal.
There’s nothing worse than having to be on hold for what seems like forever because a business needs to go through their different systems to find the information that they need. Now is a good time to think about consolidating your systems to make it easy for both your staff and your customers.
Pillar seven: Data is king but are you protecting it? Have consistent data gathering, sharing and storing policies across your whole business.
The problem with collecting rich amounts of data about your clients is the heightened risk of privacy breaches. Have policies in place where your staff don’t download to CSV on their laptop or print off information which can be lost.
I talk more about the risks related to people and data more in a previous blog.
As always, I’m here to help. I will continue to remain available and active, providing you with sound and strategic technology advice that is about long-term success and enhancing the customer experience, not chasing the next shiny object.
My focus through this time is helping you get your technology in shape and enabling you to work remotely for as long as it takes.
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