Improving Customer Experiences through Technology

“Don’t reinvent the wheel. Focus on winning one customer at a time. Be honest and sincere. Do what’s right. There’s nothing magical about this. That’s been my guiding principle. To make it work, you have to live it every day. Make it your mind-set.” – Robert Spector

Technology has brought about many new and exciting changes – the internet has changed the way the world communicates, receives information, and broadcasts news – whether about countries, companies, or even individuals. Information about new products and services in the market become known and visible to millions of people at the click of a button. For the realm of customer service too, technological advancement has come as a boon. Companies no longer have any excuse and should pay close attention to improving customer experiences through technology. With increasing competition, it is imperative for companies to use whatever means possible to gain new customers, influence them to buy more, and ensure that customers have the kind of experiences that would make them stay longer.

To start with technology helps companies collect, collate, and analyse customer data a lot better, which in turn is a great way to gain insights and knowledge about them and so help in improving customer experiences. Companies have the tools and techniques that would allow them to create better experiences and give customers enhanced service, hence it seems strange that they are still unable to do so. Among the challenges that seem to play ‘spoil sport’ are perhaps the huge overhauling required of the systems in a company, convincing the top line of the efficacy of the changes required in technology, and gaining buy-in and cooperation from all the employees in the company. However, these challenges are surmountable and worth every investment of time and money, given the returns a company would receive through happy customers.

Irrespective of the industry and size of a company, it is now imperative for all to ensure that its focus is on improving customer experiences. As mentioned, through technology companies are able to collect information easily, about existing and target customers. Gaining this information would provide insights into customer buying history and behaviour, the things they ‘search’ for online, the companies and people they associate with, their likes and preferences, and other such vital details about customers. Collecting this data would enable a company to create individualized customer profiles, which can be used to provide tailor-made solutions and personalized experiences. Customers in turn would receive information that is relevant, immediately useful, and engaging. This saves time and effort for customers, making them feel more connected with a company and be more likely to stay with it for longer.

Business owners know that customer expectations have changed given their access to information and the many choices they have. Competition has increased for customers too, which has made them busier and a lot less patient, meaning that only those companies that can make their lives easier and provide them with what they need, when and where they need it, would be the differentiator for a company. Customers now are always on the move and research reveals that an increasing amount of business is conducted via mobile devices. It therefore makes sense for companies to ensure that information that customers consider important, is provided to them on the go. They should be able to access the data they need for their business and personal use, from anywhere, at any time, and from any device, they choose. By providing such unlimited access, a company is essentially adding convenience to the lives of its customers – extending beyond business, products, and offerings. By improving customer experiences, a company would cement its path to success and gain customer loyalty and advocacy.

Technology has also brought a variety of communication channels through which customers can connect with a company and vice versa. However, unless companies can effectively manage these channels and respond to customers swiftly and efficiently, these ‘resources’ can soon prove to be a bane for any company. It is therefore imperative for a company to understand which channels are most preferred by customers and respond to them effectively via those channels. Improving customer experiences comes about by streamlining service offered by the company and ensuring that it uses technology to unify all the channels of communication to provide seamless and consistent messaging and service across all. Customers, over time, would know that irrespective of the channel they use to connect with your company, they would receive a consistent and effective response. For a company, technology would help them to break down silos between departments, ensure that the customer information is accessible to all those who would need it, and promote cross-department cooperation and communication to assist customers in the best possible way.

Improving customer experiences, as mentioned, should transcend the boundaries of the business association. A company should be able to provide customers and target audience with information and content that would be useful to them, and be interesting enough for them to ‘share’ it with their friends and associates via social media too. Customers not only have business pages, but also personal pages through which they interact with their friends and associates – for a company these sets of people could be potential customers too. By encouraging customers to share and ‘talk’ about their company, customers become ambassadors and advocates for the company and its offerings. These ‘shares’ if liked, can be passed on to friends of friends – essentially multiplying the effect and gaining more reach and awareness for the company. Customers and others will only share information that would make them look good and appear knowledgeable, which in turn is a great way for companies to keep customers happy.

Customers want ease, efficiency, and speed when making connections or transacting with a company. Companies face challenges with ‘abandonment’ issues – that is when customers leave a transaction mid-way and do not complete their purchase. This could be due to several reasons – including difficulty in navigating the site, the absence of a buy now button, breakdown in the connectivity, and other such reasons. Ecommerce companies lose a lot of revenue if customers do not complete their transactions. It is important therefore, for a company to include as many tools and techniques in their sites such that it becomes easier for customers to buy. As customers perceive the company’s efforts to make things easier for them, they are more likely to return and stay longer on the sites, which raises the chances of them actually buying not just the product they were ‘searching’ for, but may be more.

When a company focuses on improving customer experiences, they would be encouraging customers to buy again, and research proves that repeat customers usually spend at least five times more than those ‘shopping’ for the first time do. Any business owner understands that it is at least 7 times tougher to gain a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. The good news for companies is that technology will help here too – the current and emerging technologies are extremely adept to encourage repeat buys and keep customers attracted.

By improving customer experiences through ease of engagement, simpler processes, and relevant information, a company would insure retention of customers and enhanced profitability. The landscape of customer service and experiences has undergone a major shift and can prove to be extremely beneficial for any company if they leverage the power of technology, harnessing it to reduce barriers in doing business and improving customer experiences.

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