Like it or not technology is here to stay. Ranging from smart phones, tablets and personal computers, all the way up to social media and business networking sites like LinkedIn – It has a profound effect on almost every part of our lives as consumers. It’s safe to say that tech is a big deal.
Businesses make huge efforts to utilise technology in order to gain a competitive edge, be innovative and to increase revenue: Walmart alone spent over $10.5 billion on technology last year! So how can technology help your business be more customer-centric?
Before we go any further this is probably a good juncture for us to think about what these terms actually mean. Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all the interactions a customer and a company share throughout their working relationship. Customer Satisfaction is the measurement of how satisfied/happy your customer is with the service or goods they have received.
Customer experience and customer satisfaction are often considered one-and-the-same but this isn’t technically the case. Your customer experience is just part of what makes a customer satisfied or dissatisfied. If you implement a solid customer experience strategy, then customer satisfaction should theoretically take care of itself.
When a customer pays for your services, then they will understandably expect it to be seamless and efficient. One of the by-products of constant technical innovation is that customers have very high expectations and will ask a lot of you:
Luckily technology enables businesses to meet these modern-day demands in a number of different ways...
Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” was unquestionably a great song, but you have to be available at any time to please the modern-day customer. If your company still operates within these confines, then you need to address this immediately – the ‘always on’ consumer will go elsewhere otherwise.
We’re not suggesting that you hire workers to tirelessly graft around the clock, instead we’re talking about using technology to provide you with the capacity to be available anywhere and at any time. This can be achieved through email, SMS, chat boxes and by providing the option for customers to purchase your product/ services online.
Having interactions with your customers around the clock will encourage repeat businesses and help to build stronger customer relations.
Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to gather buyer information without having to ask the customer directly? Via the usage of advanced end-to-end analytics that is very much a reality. Technology can track and measure the customer’s ‘online footprints’ that highlight precious insights into what the customer wants, what motivates them and the sort of products/services they’re interested in. You can now track your customers on and offline activity to build a better picture of their behaviour. By understanding the customer as an individual you can tailor your sales, marketing and customer service strategies to suit them. Utilising this data appropriately may also guide your future product development.
In addition, companies can utilise technology to help them pre-empt problems, prevent losses and create commercial solutions to the major shortcomings in their CX strategy. People analytics tools can be massively helpful when trying to gather feedback from a large sample of customers quickly and simply. Gone are the days of tirelessly chasing customer feedback and spending months tied up in spreadsheets to analyse the data. Advances in pulse survey technology mean you can take a snapshot of customer satisfaction regularly in order to identify issues before they escalate.
By effectively listening to your customers you will inevitably uncover key innovations and improvements you may not have thought of and their feedback should help you decide where and what to invest in next.
Lots of people don’t like asking for help, and would rather navigate through your site and find the answers independently. This means you must encourage and teach self-reliance through your technology. You can make use of established and emerging tech to help your customers. Host webinars, write informative blogs, create podcasts and post videos online to help your customers as and when they need it.
Having self-reliant customers is a very advanced form of customer service. It will also establish your business as an authority in its field building credibility and loyalty.
Technology enables companies to effectively modernise and restructure their services for maximum efficiency. If tech can help you reduce the number of labour-intensive internal processes you have or help speed up your responses to customers, then it should be considered. The aim is to help reduce costs without damaging the customer journey.
Use technology to innovate and improve the customer experience, but be mindful that there needs to be a balance between the use of clever tech and the human touch. No one likes the automated queue system (e.g. the common banking approach to telephone support), and it’s worse still if it’s not user friendly or intelligent. So if you are going to rely on tech for customer service – be sure to test the process yourself first and make it as simple as possible for the user.
Whilst technology has undoubtedly been a great help, it is important to note that a personal (and human) touch will never be out-dated. Technology should be used to help improve the customer experience, not to form the basis of it.
A common mistake companies make is trying to build their customer experience strategy around their technology. This can result in the customer judging a company solely by their tech solutions, when they should be analysing each individual interaction with the brand and its people. It is advisable to define your customer experience strategy, and then think about how you can utilise your tech to better achieve your goals.
One of the most effective steps when trying to create a strong customer experience is the ability to build emotional connections with the customer.
If you want to really understand the customer’s needs, then you must be able to effectively connect with them on a personal level. Technology may be advancing at an alarming rate, but the (human) ability to use an imagination and empathise with people’s situations is still far too complex to accurately replicate. The most effective customer experiences are achieved when a real-life emotional connection is made. After all, a customer will only be devoted and loyal to you if they feel like it is being reciprocated… people buy from people!
To conclude, effective use of technology is absolutely essential to improving the overall customer experience, and increasing customer satisfaction levels. As such always keep abreast of the latest technological developments that might benefit your business, but pick which to implement very carefully, ALWAYS keeping usability front of mind!
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