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How to create engaging customer experiences in the growing digital market

Creating a customer base online is about creating a great customer experience in the digital space

Rohan Joshi and Sudhir Prabhu

By Rohan Joshi and Sudhir Prabhu

You must have heard that the digital market is the next big thing. Well, it’s already a behemoth. The Indian digital market space is growing exponentially. In October 2021, the monthly cumulative value of Indian UPI transactions crossed $100 billion. That’s a lot of business happening online, too big to be ignored by any organisation. The digital market space seems more lucrative as it will outpace the retail market in the years to come. While the retail market progresses at a growth rate of 23%, digital transactions are increasing at an annual rate of 40-50%.

So, what’s fuelling the frenzy? It’s a combination of digital payment platforms, 4G technology, a rise in spending power, and the Covid-19 pandemic-led disruptions. We live in a VUCA (Volatility Uncertainty Complexity and Ambiguity) world, and it has been exacerbated by the global pandemic disrupting supply chains, marketing channels, manufacturing, and almost all enterprise functions.  Digital Technologies in the main have tried to alleviate some of the VUCA issues that enterprise face.  According to Gartner, the prominent digital initiatives taken by enterprises in the last 18 months have been –

1.            VCA – Virtual Customer Assistants – these simulate conversations in order to deliver information to a client and if advanced take action on behalf of a customer to perform and deliver transactions

2.            Digital Analytics – Advanced and meaningful analytics delivered to the folks who need the information to make a decision instantaneously and based on intelligence

3.            Machine Learning, so that repetitive tasks are done hitherto by agents is now automated, prominent ones here are tasks like auto-routing and auto-categorization

4.            Taken in conjunction with VCA is Sentiment Analysis, something which can predict in the near future likely outcomes for issues clients face.

Gartner conducted an interview with the CEO of Michelin who expounded on how their Supply Chain got disrupted thanks to the pandemic and how digital technologies helped Michelin source alternative sources for raw materials locally and keep the product distribution channels working to fulfill orders.  He went on to say that digital technology which would have taken three years to embrace got implemented in three-four months and Robotic Process Automation tools, NLP tools were rolled out an intensive online training was conducted for all the operations personnel during the pandemic to keep the lights burning.

Engaging customers online

Creating a customer base online is about creating a great customer experience in the digital space. It takes a gamut of a great website, mobile-friendly apps, high-quality omnichannel customer support, branding, and digital marketing to deliver an excellent customer experience in the digital space. Imagine your customer touchpoints like a website or an app as your office reception lobby or customer service center and you’ll get the big picture. So, how can you engage customers online? Let’s explore a few well-proven tricks from the hat.

Understanding your customer’s journey

Mapping your customer’s journeys and understanding their needs helps you build a profile of the aggregate market segment your business attracts. Engaging the customer at every step of their journey creates a superior customer experience that builds customer loyalty. Fortunately, it’s simple to accomplish this using an enterprise customer service application. The daunting part is gathering insights from the data and acting upon it to gain a competitive advantage.

Media is replete with papers, articles, podcasts on AI, IoT, Meta, VR, etc but it is mundane things like workforce management, case management, desktop management, collaboration tools, and unified communications that are delivering maximum value to clients today. While the emerging technologies are creating a mark in the business landscape and helping us make data-driven decisions, they are just a means to achieve the end goal – creating excellent customer experiences.

The human touch

Remember that you are not getting an opportunity to meet your customers in person in the digital space. But to think about it, it’s not a setback as rarely do any business get an opportunity to meet their customers directly. Creating a humane and emotional connection online is possible with attention to detail. Customers are not just buying your products, but more importantly, they are buying the value they experience derived from your products, and a human connection is a big part of it. Relevant aspects to consider are creating engaging content, user-friendly websites and applications, a hint of a human and personalized touch to automated responses and chatbots, and a high-performance service desk to build a connection with your customers.

Follow-up calls to check in on your customers and ensure that their issue has been resolved is a great way to close a ticket and collect valuable feedback. Customer feedback essentially helps you in course correction and improving performance. Several case studies are pointing to customer-driven product improvements and innovations that have led to new business opportunities and growth.

Ask for feedback

Don’t wait for the customer to point out red flags in your customer experiences. Asking for honest feedback upfront makes happy customers happier and tempers the unhappy ones. Feedback is also an opportunity to re-engage the customer into another journey, coming full circle. Customer feedback provides relevant data that can drive product improvements and eliminate bottlenecks in service delivery. You are getting priceless information for free; why would any good business not want it? Once you get in the feedback, what separates the men from boys is deriving insights from the data and acting upon them. Although there are several well-known methods of doing that and coming out well, modern technology like AI can drastically improve your journey of streamlining your business.

What we have seen is that Customer Service has moved from being a cost center to a key ingredient in the revenue mix.  If you study the growth of IT Services companies, most of the case studies from the large successful IT companies point in the direction of customer service functions being moved offshore from global giants like GE, Unilever, Citibank, etc.  Templatized routine queries and automated transactions focusing on improving efficiency for the aforementioned enterprise formed the first and second wave of IT Outsourcing.  Customer Satisfaction outcomes were measured to see if the outsourcing was adding value besides cutting costs.  Even in the early days of the pandemic studies were conducted on CSAT and its importance for the survival of a company.  It turns out that even in the B2C type of enterprise, CSAT was a great indicator for Customer Life Time Value measurements.

You never really get there!

Creating wonderful customer experiences in the digital space is a mammoth task that requires careful attention to detail, thinking in your customer’s shoes, and working with the best in the industry. However, even if you pull it off and forge a brand reputation for your business in the digital space, staying on top requires significantly more effort. The competition is never far away, and the scalability of the digital space breaks down barriers creating a level playing field. In the current markets, you either improve continuously or lose the game. There is no room for slackers here. Continuous improvement of your business processes is a “mission-critical” need of the hour.

Behind all the fun and frolic, the buzzwords and news headlines about the digital market space is a crucial but less apparent fact that gives it an immense thrust – scalability. While it takes a heavy investment of time, money, and resources to scale up in the retail space, scaling up a business online is far simpler and faster.  When you mix the ingredients of scalability, disruptions in retail supply chains, and the emergence of new technology, you get a nascent, rapidly developing market space that is predominantly unconquered territory. It begs the question – How can your business land a piece of this sweet, big cake? Well, the recipe for running a good business and delivering a great customer experience is still age-old – creating and delivering value. The digital market has just transformed the means of achieving it.

To sum it all

The digital market space offers immense potential to scale your business growth and market share. The digital party is just getting started and is set to keep going for the next couple of decades. A crucial factor that improves your chances of making it big in this space is working with the best in the industry.

(The article is authored by co-founder and CEO, Wolken Software and, co-founder and CTO, Wolken Software. Views expressed are personal.)

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