It’s not too long ago when populations rushed to stock up on essentials as countries confronted the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Unsure of the disease and the extent of lockdowns, consumers took a “better safe than sorry” approach and overwhelmed grocery stores – with many looking to online channels but failing to secure delivery slots.
Having been a loyal customer to all the online grocers ever since Redmart started in 2011, I was dismayed to find my options limited by availability of delivery slots across all platforms. I had grown used to the convenience of ordering anything I wanted and having it delivered in days or even hours, if I so desired. Checking on the various platforms multiple times a day for a delivery slot was frustrating and made worse when the products in your online shopping cart run out of stock as you continue to wait for that elusive availability.
It did make me realise how much my expectations of a simple grocery service has changed in the last 10 years. From being glad to have bulky essentials delivered to me through a mobile app, I was now unhappy about not being able to buy craft materials and toys for my daughter through the same grocery delivery platform.
Great customer experiences enabled by technology quickly becomes the status quo.
For today’s consumers, the benchmark of great service and experience is constantly climbing. Even if you provide a positive customer experience 9 out of 10 times, that one time you do not could be significant to your brand. In PwC’s Future of CX report 2020, they found that 1 in 3 customers will not hesitate to leave a brand they love if they had a bad customer experience, and 92% would completely abandon a company after two or three negative interactions.
At a recent roundtable we hosted with Twilio on “Rethinking Customer Engagement in the New Normal”, panelists which included large Indonesian retailers like Matahari, iLotte, Super Indo and Kawan Lama agreed that every customer interaction is critical and they are investing in technologies that can help them provide personalized experiences across multiple touchpoints.
The Post-COVID19 Customer Experience Battleground
A study by market research firm Nielsen in March found that two in five consumers in Singapore increased their online shopping activities during the Covid-19 period, with three in four indicating that they expect to maintain such levels even after the pandemic. 69 per cent who bought household goods online for the first time during Covid-19 also reported that they will do so again in the next 12 months.
COVID19 has forced companies to embrace digital channels, but for more than 70% of the respondents we surveyed, moving their business to an online model to continue providing products and services online is not an easy endeavour. These are some of the challenges that businesses run up against.
Digital Transaction is not Digital Experience
It is no longer difficult to provide an online store. Platforms like Lazada, Shopee or even Carousell allow even, individuals to transact online. Lazada – which hosts 200,000 merchants on its platform – added 26,000 new merchants in March 2020 alone.
However, having an online business and enabling digital transactions does not equate to a digital experience strategy. Many brands enable an e-commerce option, but a poor experience of making the purchase (poor mobile UX, slow load times, lack of personalization) to an unsatisfactory delivery of goods and after-sales service (limited delivery options, lack of updates on delivery, items damaged during delivery) may do more harm than good to the brand.
For consumers now, digital experience goes beyond enabling a seamless purchase. Lazada launched LazLive to enable a more interactive experience for the in-app purchases in order to drive higher transaction and a more seamless transaction for consumers. Through the See-Now-Buy-Now feature, consumers can immediately buy items they see on a stream, increasing total gross merchandise value (GMV) generated through LazLive by 45% month-over-month in April, up by 40% since April, the company said.
This “Shoppertainment” strategy helped Shseido attract over 90,000 viewers to one of their LazLive sessions and generated 40 times GMV uplift compared to a normal hour. A LazLive exclusive price item sold out in the first 30 minutes.
Customer Service is not Customer Experience
Customer service is but one aspect of the customer experience and this is made more apparent in the current context when a customer’s impression of your brand could be made without even talking to any of your customer service representatives. (Or without you even knowing.)
Technology can enable the better management of both customer service (e.g. Contact Center AI) and customer experience (CX platform) and the aim is to be able to proactively predict your customer’s needs and be ready to respond.
A business that focuses on customer service alone will only be able to influence consumers who choose to reach out proactively. In the digital age where alternatives are aplenty and easy to access, customer loyalty is fleeting. In Southeast Asia especially, consumers will switch brands when they do not find their preferred brands. A survey by Toluna found that 40% of consumers in Southeast Asia have tried a new brand since the onset of COVID19 as compared to 23% in the US and 22% in China.
Will your business be able to go beyond providing good customer service to facilitating an exceptional customer journey across touchpoints?
Digital Channel is not Omnichannel
Having more digital channels could come to bite you if there isn’t an omnichannel approach. In the case of customer communication, it is great that customers can now reach a brand by voice, WhatsApp, Facebook, LINE, email, SMS, mobile apps – sometimes even 24/7 a day. The drawback comes when the customer is looking to address an issue through their selected channel and decides to switch a channel halfway and has to repeat the request all over. According to Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, 42% identify this problem as a mark of bad service.
With social media now, a single misstep could be the next viral sensation on what not to do for customer engagement. In the above scenario, the British Airways customer was so enraged that he paid to promote his tweet that complained about the service he received.
With most organizations establishing an average of eight contact channels with their customers, it is surprising that 66.4% have no cross-channel contact management strategy as found by NTT in their 2020 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report.
Self Service is not No Service
In the same NTT report, AI Virtual Assistants and Robotics/ Proactive Automation are the top 2 trends for future needs. Self service options are growing and becoming an essential part of the omnichannel business. From the FAQ of yesteryears to the AI-powered chatbots now, it is useful to deflect routine questions so that your service representatives can have the time to help your other customers.
But what happens when it isn’t a usual request? Is your process sound enough to capture customers who may not be able to get the help they want automatically?
I had wanted to buy a children’s toy as a gift for a friend in Thailand but was unable to complete the transaction. After the third try, I looked around for a chat function but found none and to make matters worse, their “Contact Us” page was a form fill. Wanting immediate service, I reached out to them on both their LINE and Facebook page and was sorely disappointed by their self service process. No matter what I typed, it kept providing me automated responses which were not relevant to my specific request.
I went as far as filling up their “Contact Us” form but a month later, I have yet to hear back from them.
And I’ve also stopped reaching out – which brings me to my last point.
No Feedback is not Good Feedback
They just stop doing business with you.
It takes effort to voice negative feedback and customers whose complaints are handled quickly often become loyalists and contributes a higher profit margin. A study by Harvard Business Review found that customers who have a complaint handled in less than 5 minutes go on to spend more on future purchases.
Negative feedback can be drivers of growth by highlighting to the company issues that may have been overlooked. The fear of bad customer reviews are often overblown and majority of consumers are not affected by a couple of negative reviews (we have all come across individuals who are impossible to please) and if you had managed to solve a customer problem effectively, your customer may come away with an increased appreciation to your brand.
The Single Customer View: Beyond Customer Experience Management
The need to deliver a good customer experience is not new but to meet growing and increased customer expectations, companies need to adapt their CX philosophy and strategy across the whole business.
A Forrester Research found that businesses that are customer experience leaders grow their revenue 5.1 times faster than competitors who are CX laggards.
To be a true champion of CX, the organization needs to adopt a customer centric culture which involves helping employees to understand the bigger picture and aligning ompensation packages to customer experience management.
The Data Foundation for Customer 360
It is not the lack of data – businesses have a wide library of data captured across the many touchpoints in the customer journey, but the ability to leverage the data effectively to derive useful customer insights that is the challenge. On the backend, CIOs need to find a way to connect all the various data sources, create a unified view, and then be able to go back to it and add new data sources as the business and customer needs evolve.
However the speed of new customer interaction channels coming to the fore impacts the company’s ability to build an enterprise wide analytics system. How do I coordinate customer interactions on TikTok with the rest of my touchpoints when short-form video wasn’t even part of the marketing landscape 3 years ago?
Leading edge companies are able to use analytics to overcome data challenges and create a strong competitive advantage for their firm.
Customer Experience: A Focus for Enterprise Re-Prioritization of Digital Spend
Customer experience management is one of the areas that we will be discussing with the regional enterprises through our online enterprise focus groups the next 3 months. From Return on Experience to Omnichannel Customer Engagement and Service Improvement, we will be continuing our conversations with ASEAN enterprises on this increasingly important and complex isue.
Drop us a note at email@example.com if you would like to contribute to these discussions.
1 September 2020