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Why customer experience in 2022 will matter more than ever
October 19, 2021
As the world begins to recalibrate after 18 months of uncertainty, businesses have undergone an irreversible shift. The pandemic, while unprecedented and challenging, offered radical insights into what it takes to keep a business running virtually and responsively – what was true yesterday could change by morning. Yet there have been many organizations left unprepared, stuck in old workflows that have prevented them from engaging and serving customers properly.
In tandem, customer expectations have heightened; a ‘good customer experience’ is no longer enough. It needs to be smooth and personalized, encouraging them to come back time and time again. With customer experience (CX) mattering more than ever before, businesses need to learn how to meet both heightened and changing expectations, especially as we prepare ourselves for a world where the boundaries between offline and online are more blurred than ever.
What have we learnt from lockdown(s)
Modern-day consumers have access to a plethora of channels. Plus, the pandemic has seen a wave of ‘digital laggards’: those who have been forced to switch to digital channels due to reduced in-person operations, and who want their online experience to feel as easy and ‘normal’ as shopping in store.
Our research, which assessed customer expectations before and during the first lockdown of 2020, found that there is no one preferred channel for brand communication. Almost half (46%) wanted to communicate via email, 35% via live chat online, 17% by social media and the list goes on. Being present on more than one channel is paramount.
We also know that customers are picky. If a business does not provide a good experience, customers will simply drop that brand in search of one that does. The same research found that almost a third (32%) of consumers will not spend with a business that provided a poor service during lockdown again. If we extrapolate this against what they would have spent, it means businesses may have lost a total of £2.5bn per year in sales.
Meeting the engagement goals of the entire business
Every person in a business wants to harness technology for the benefit of their own operations. The chief technology officer needs to ensure the technology is running efficiently and securely, whereas the chief experience officer will focus on how it can facilitate a smooth and personalized external journey for customers. Ultimately, brands need to be able to monitor the customer journey from start to finish, ensuring customer engagement and experience go hand in hand.
For customer service, businesses should consider using chatbots to provide automated responses and messages for more straightforward tasks, such as balance inquiries, refund requests, or store opening times. By doing this, businesses can gather essential customer information and ensure they have a complete view of a customer’s engagement. Then in an instant, an inquiry needs to be escalated to a human agent, they can focus on providing the most accurate and valuable response possible.
For engagement, it’s about providing timely and relevant communication to help foster brand loyalty. This could mean a personalized discount over email, a delivery update via SMS or a nearby restaurant suggestion via WhatsApp.
The channels of the future
There are currently more than 2 billion WhatsApp users around the world – and that’s constantly on the rise. It’s immediate, personal and global, making it a great tool for customers to communicate with businesses directly, from chat initiation to resolution. It’s therefore no surprise that 68% of WhatsApp users think it is the easiest way to connect with their favorite brand.
Many businesses are starting to realize the benefits of connecting with their customers through conversational apps. An example can be seen through our work with WhatsApp to develop simple, self-service chatbots, that government health departments across the world have used to provide quick, trustworthy information on Covid-19. Contact with the chatbot is initiated by a person entering a number in their contact list and sending, “Hi”. This starts a dialogue with a WhatsApp chatbot, where users can choose from a list of topics, including the latest figures, restrictions, and guidance, for more information.
By providing automation via WhatsApp, a channel we know people across the globe prefer to use, it reduces the pressure on contact centers, while ensuring the public has access to a quick, reliable service at their fingertips.
Preparing for the experience age
Many brands have rushed through digital transformation projects in the past year to help cater to fast-moving consumer needs, but today we are left in a situation very different to that of March 2020. Now is the time to think about the digital tools available to you to not only keep operations running efficiently, but to take your customer experience to new heights. Could WhatsApp be the next customer engagement channel you’re looking for? Have you thought about building a chatbot to ensure you can offer round the clock customer service? Customers have power, and companies must realize the value of investing in this new age of experience.
By Nikhil Shoorji, Managing Director Europe, Infobip.