Customer Experience – 2018’s Competitive Battleground for Businesses

Guest Blog by Mark Horwood, CEO of Captivate Connect

Customer Experience – 2018’s Competitive Battleground for Businesses

What constitutes good customer experience (CX)? Is it simply a new name for good old-fashioned customer service? The simple answer is no – a business can deliver good customer service, yet the perceived CX could be mediocre or even poor.

CX does not simply equate to meeting a customer’s expectations – it’s about delivering an experience that goes above and beyond anything the customer could’ve imagined.

Around 95% of senior business leaders have stated CX as the “competitive battleground and a source of sustainable differentiation”.

Yet, this phenomenon of CX is not a new concept; it has simply escalated in importance since larger organisations realised their customers were dissatisfied and didn’t like doing business with them.

World leading research and advisory firm Gartner discovered that the top 500 companies with a declared focus on boosting CX, increased profit by five times more than the S&P 500.

If we look back to the 1990s, the top four factors influencing a customer’s purchase decision were:

  1. Advertising
  2. Product
  3. Price
  4. Recommendation

In 2018 this has flipped on its head.  The top four factors are now:

  1. Recommendation
  2. Product
  3. Price
  4. Advertising

Customer recommendations have displaced advertising from number one to number four, which is causing the importance of customer recommendations and word-of-mouth to increase.

For a long time, we used advertising to create demand. Today however, fewer people read newspapers or magazines and even less watch TV ads which is causing advertisers to turn to using banner ads and other digital channels to get consumers to take notice. However with the rapid increase in ad blocking software on social media sites and websites, opportunities to advertise businesses are drying up fast.

Authentic customer recommendations cannot be bought like advertising; reputations must be earned. They come from an honest, genuine customer – someone with an emotional attachment to a brand or business rather than a monetary one. Consumers desire to feel connected to the business; they want to feel genuinely valued. The fact is 86% of people will pay more for a product or service from a business they feel values them. Therefore to charge a premium price, businesses must look towards establishing and developing an authentic rapport with their customers.

Your current and past customers will always dictate the success of your business.  Treat them shoddily and pay the price; it’s hard to rebuild and restore a tarnished reputation. The influence and power of mainstream media is unparalleled; if mainstream media suggests or even hints guilt, the mantra of innocent until proven guilty is irrelevant.

Another way of showing customers you care is by knowing what they want. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now available to help businesses identify their customers – this is being achieved by analysing phone numbers and their voice. The software analyses the data received and instantly advises the system, contact centre agent or smart Chatbot about the information previously gathered from that customer. This can include the colour widget they previously purchased, their preferred payment method or whether their original issue was resolved. AI is transforming the way we do business by ensuring all available business communications channels can identify, analyse and access valuable information about recurring customers. This means customers no longer need to repeat account numbers or ID passwords during a call to continually identify themselves.

So, what is it that you can do right now to improve your CX? First, companies must understand the three main channels into a business.

  • Physical Channel – the shop front or office. Businesses spend thousands on improving their visual shop front or office to create a welcoming environment for consumers. They ensure their staff are trained, well dressed and deliver exceptional customer service with a smile. How a business and their employees are perceived will determine the outcome which can be either a lost opportunity or a sale
  • Digital Channel – a businesses website not only needs to look good but feed people with the desire to explore it for longer than two seconds. Today’s consumers are time poor; they are not interested in reading lengthy descriptions, they want their attention grabbed and want to know what you do and why they should read on in less than 30 seconds. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will get them to the website and analytics will tell you where they came from, but it is up to you to determine how long they stay and where they go
  • Voice Channel – businesses typically overlook the voice channel as it is perceived by many to be of less importance than the other two channels. However interestingly, 72% of all transactions involve a human voice and yet the channel is ignored. With such a large percentage of transactions on the voice channel, businesses need to break the mold and begin investing to improve CX on this channel

As of 2018, more than 50% of all calls are made from a mobile device. With research suggesting this figure will only rise in the future, introducing better technology like a Voice Activated IVR – where a caller states the nature of their call enquiry rather than press one and press two, will enhance the ease of use, boost the service delivery and improve CX.

A recent analysis of 5 million calls, conducted by Captivate Connect, across the United States, United Kingdom and Australia revealed that the average time callers waited on hold was one minute. Now, let’s walk in the caller’s shoes for that minute. If the caller is subjected to silence, they will most likely doubt the validity of the connection and hang up. It is believed that 38% of customer’s who hang up on a business will never ring back; now that is a lot of lost opportunities.

The most annoying part of waiting on hold while your call is being transferred is the ‘courtesy’ announcement. Platitudes like “we know your time is valuable, please hold” or “your call is important to us, we won’t be much longer” at regular intervals creates a terrible CX. This ultimately ends in frustration and phone rage. Instead, diminish the perceived call wait time by employing simple measures like unrepeated audio or daily updates of content. Engaging, educating and entertaining callers are vital steps to improving CX on the voice channel.

New technology which has emerged from the collaboration between BroadSoft and Captivate Connect focuses primarily on the callers’ needs, wants and desires as they wait on hold. As a caller, you have the power! You have the freedom to select the type of music you want to listen to, enjoy a podcast or even play a quiz while you wait. Empowering waiting callers with self-select options will engage callers, reduce perceived wait times and deliver a more purchase-ready prospect.

 

Guest Blog by Mark Horwood, CEO of Captivate Connect

Mark Horwood is a seasoned CX professional working with thousands of companies to boost their CX on the Voice channel. Mark travels the world frequently speaking to business leaders and telecommunications companies about how the Voice channel can be improved easily and affordably.

His company Captivate Connect, established in 1986, holds patents and trademarks on technology which helps businesses grow by improving their CX and Net Promoter Score. Captivate Connect has its main office in Perth, Australia with branches in South Africa, United States, Asia and a new office opening soon in the United Kingdom.

 

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