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Creating an excellent customer experience

in-store-digital-shoppingBy Rod Moynihan, director at Zendesk ANZ.

When it comes to customer service, we’re easily jaded as consumers. We’ve all experienced a moment in time when customer service interaction has gone horribly wrong, and we’re quick to share with anyone who will listen. Although many customer service interactions are brief, these experiences have the power to create a high level of frustration, which can have an immediate impact on a brand and its bottom line.

Today, we interact with brands through human interaction via channels like phone, live assisted chat, social and of course the in-store experience. In addition to this, consumers are now adopting self-driven channels via mobile and web where human interaction is not required. These channels play a vital role in driving high levels of consumer satisfaction, however some industries are better prepared than others to provide an integrated customer experience.

For those industries that are yet to adopt an integrated CX model, we often see a correlation between this and poor customer satisfaction ratings. Irrespective of industry, there are some common strategies that make some organisations more advanced than others when it comes to creating excellent customer experiences.

Create digital first customer interactions

There is no denying that technology is changing the way organisations interact with customers. It not only enables personalisation, but it also enhances accessibility and consistency in the customer experience. There are some organisations that are digital natives, like Airtasker and Airbnb, where digital consumer interaction is in their blood, creating personalised, long-lasting customer relationships.  

These brands have a slight upper hand, as customer transparency is the backbone of their business model. They also have dedicated roles such as chief digital officer and head of CX, where their sole focus is on refining and improving the customer digital experience.

Organisations that are struggling often have common challenges, including outdated or legacy technology ecosystems that are difficult to integrate. Or they are under-invested in terms of modern technology adoption, which restricts maximising channels such as mobility, which is now the first entrance point for consumer experiences.  

The common industries that are impacted are typically more traditional including, government, traditional “bricks and mortar” retailers and service utilities. While some organisations are battling with the migration to the new world of integrated digital consumer experiences, others have been able to evolve and take advantage of the new digital landscape to transform themselves into innovative digital first businesses.

Embed digital consumer experiences into your DNA

Organisations that deliver exceptional customer service are usually service based organisations such as HelloFresh and Bingle. These digital first brands have a clear integrated consumer engagement model that is pushing the boundaries when it comes to how they engage with their customers.

However, there are some Australian retailers which have achieved successful CX transformations such as Cotton On, Tony Bianco and The PAS Group. These organisations are lifting the benchmark every day, as they continue to put customer service at the heart of their business strategies. They also value two-way communication with the customer, knowing that capturing and using customer data and feedback plays an essential role in creating more personalised and contextually rich experiences for their consumers.

It starts at the top

Organisations that are prioritising customer service, have a leadership team that make it a key priority.  There is a common thread of those organisations and industries that have moved the needle from poor/average customer service and experience to industry leading. The journey usually starts and finishes at the top. The senior leaders are owning the conversation and understand what the impact means to their bottom line. They understand that happy customers mean loyal customers, and loyal customers bring even more customers.

From the CIO to the board, I have seen first-hand the impact of c-suite level leaders that have led CX transformations for their organisations. They recognise the potential and are putting it at the top of their business agenda, with customer service embedded in all business layers. They understand that when you build trust and create better engagement with your customers, that this will minimise the cost of service and have a positive impact on revenue.

Regardless of industry, organisations must consider adopting technologies that enhance the consumer experience, and create a culture where the digital customer experience is central to all strategies. Lastly, organisational leadership must recognise the positive impact it has on staff, consumer and organisational performance and lead from the front on transformation.

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