The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted consumer behaviour, affecting customer experience (CX) significantly. This is why an omnichannel platform is so vital today.
A global pandemic such as the one the world currently faces affects everything in a significant manner, and this, of course, includes CX. Covid-19 has created a groundswell of fear and uncertainty; extended lockdowns have impacted the very manner in which everyone works; and the need to do things differently — from how we communicate with people to where we situate our offices — has had a major impact on customer behaviour and the customer experience.
It seems clear that the most successful businesses in this “new normal” will be those that are more proactive and nimbler, as well as those better able to anticipate customer expectations and needs. The CX leaders in this future will be those companies able to understand their customers better and assist them more rapidly.
You must adapt in the changed world
According to Maxime Blanchard, Zendesk enterprise account executive for South Africa, the pandemic has accelerated the trends around CX, since it has created even greater demand for more effective CX.
“On the one hand, when lockdown began many organisations did not have tools that were designed to help them operate in a remote working environment, and these tools often struggled to connect with some of their other technology solutions,” he says. “On the other hand, a challenge like that created by Covid-19 always inspires innovation, especially in South Africa.
“The move to the cloud is the obvious response to this, but we have also seen exciting developments like businesses revolutionising their in-store experiences. A good example here would be clothing stores that now allow customers to pick their items online and pre-book fitting rooms in-store to try them on before confirming the purchase. This approach is clearly one where the line between what is in-store and what is online is becoming blurred. The other significant response has been from a number of brick-and-mortar enterprises that have now begun to pivot more towards an e-commerce model.”
Customers are your best ambassadors
Diarmuid Aherne, senior account executive at Zendesk, adds that any organisation seeking to pivot in this manner must implement an omnichannel customer experience platform. This is because in today’s connected world, every customer is also a brand ambassador for the business.
“Customers today are more empowered and they have access to multiple channels, including social media, WhatsApp and many others that stretch far beyond the traditional telephone or e-mail channels. If you are not able to communicate with them via the channel of their choice, this immediately makes the experience worse – and remember that bad experiences are quickly amplified by customers across the many channels they utilise,” says Aherne.
“This is why omnichannel is crucial in turning customers into genuine brand ambassadors, since happy customers also amplify their message in the same manner, but to the benefit of your business.”
Apart from adopting an omnichannel platform, continues Blanchard, organisations that are serious about CX must also ensure that whoever runs the organisation’s CX strategy has a place in the C-suite.
Put CX at the centre of your business
“Having a CXO sitting on the board is vital, as CX ultimately affects every other aspect of the business. They are the glue between marketing and pperations, the cement that keeps acquisition and retention on the same line of strategy,” says Blanchard.
“It is also worth noting that the importance of the channel and the speed of the response to a customer query will vary according to industry, but a general rule of thumb is that the faster you can deliver the answer, the better the CX will be. There is no doubt that the increasing number of channels makes CX more difficult, while at the same time, making it even more critical to get it right.”
One particular challenge is that with so many channels to use, a customer can easily cross back and forth between multiple channels, even within a single interaction. It is for this reason that omnichannel is so necessary, as customers should not have to repeat themselves, nor should agents have any difficulty in obtaining full context to the customer’s interaction. Maintaining complete context and directing the customer to the right agent immediately, suggests Blanchard, can only be achieved with an omnichannel platform.
No business is too small to focus on CX
Aherne points out that although it may sound scary to implement a solution that looks like it is designed to solve enterprise-level challenges, the fact is that no business is too small to undertake effective CX in this manner.
“Many companies start small and then scale quite quickly – a good example is fintech digital start-ups – which may launch quite small, but generally grow rapidly. At the same time, the digital nature of such a business and the nature of what it does makes it ideal for omnichannel CX, as fintechs clearly require a world-class way to provide an exceptional service to the end customer.
“A small business, with few customers, can more easily deliver what might be called the ultimate CX, which involves one-to-one service. The question is, how do you scale this one-to-one relationship as you grow? An omnichannel platform gets you as close as possible to this, as it is able to not only handle a customer asking for service across multiple channels, but it also provides the full context of the customer’s interactions. With such context, the platform can ensure the request is instantly routed to the correct agent. At its most basic, an omnichannel platform enables you to humanise and personalise the customer interaction and experience,” he concludes.
Four key takeaways
- You must adapt in a changed world
- Customers are your best ambassadors
- Put CX at the centre of your business
- No business is too small to focus on CX
Maxime Blanchard, territory manager
Blanchard has been with Zendesk for over three years and leads the company’ss vision and strategy for South Africa. In a former life, he was an elite professional footballer, where he developed strong values around commitment, high performance and perseverance. He is passionate about helping businesses in South Africa achieve their potential and materialise their CX vision. Connect with Maxime Blanchard on LinkedIn or visit zendesk.com to find out how you can up your CX game.
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