Was your enterprise forced to pivot to digital in 2020? You’re not alone. Around Australia, bricks and mortar businesses of all stripes and sizes took their dealings with customers online after the pandemic made business as usual impossible.
Necessity is the mother of invention, as the old saying goes. Hence, we saw Melbourne hospitality business Delia Group develop an online marketplace for restaurants to sell and deliver ready-made meals, fitness studios launch virtual classes and healthcare businesses like Melbourne Podiatry Clinic start to offer online video consultations.
Having digitally transformed their operations on the fly, these businesses, and thousands of others, are persisting with hybrid models. Trade can – and has – resumed in their bricks and mortar outlets, but they’re maintaining their online sales and communication channels alongside.
Service matters – online and in real life
But there’s a difference between making something work and doing it well. In 2021, customers demand the latter, and they’ll probably take their custom elsewhere if they don’t receive it. According to a Salesforce study, a whopping 80 per cent of customers say customer experience is a key factor in their purchasing decisions, and more than 90 per cent think they’re more likely to make a repeat purchase if the service was good.
Ask the question a different way, and the answer is the same. Bain & Company research shows customers are four times more likely to take their business to a competitor – even if the product and price are less sharp than your own – if you’ve given them a bad service experience.
Understanding the challenge
So, what does digital customer experience comprise, and how can you ensure yours soars rather than sinks? It’s the sum total of online interactions between your brand and a prospect or customer.
That means it encompasses a plethora of ‘touchpoints’ – your website, social media presence, chatbot or messaging service, email and contact centre – each has to offer polite, personalised and highly responsive service to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s increasingly discerning consumers and business buyers.
Upping your game
If you’re not confident your business is doing so, focus on key areas.
The first is customer support. Today, customers want to be able to reach out to you – and receive a timely response – at the time and via the channel of their choosing. For some people, that may be the traditional telephone but, for others, particularly those in the under-40s bracket, it’s more likely to be live chat or social media. With an omnichannel support model, you can keep everyone happy. If you’ve yet to introduce one, this should be high on the To-Do list.
Providing consistent customer experiences is another biggie. From your perspective, each of your digital channels may function as a discrete operation, but your customers don’t see it that way. They are increasingly looking for a congruent, connected experience when they ping you on Messenger, call you on the phone and catch up with you and your team in person.
Implementing a centralised platform that funnels all digital channels into a single workflow makes this easier to deliver. The technology can provide your team with visibility into individual customer journeys, even when the same customer approaches the business via multiple routes.
Insight-driven marketing and communication
Thirdly, digitisation will have placed a large volume of customer data at your disposal. If you are wise, you’ll use it to increase your understanding of their needs and behaviours and to develop tailored and personalised marketing and communication programs based on the insights you obtain. Proactively striving to give customers more of what they want is key to improving customer satisfaction which, in turn, will lead to repeat sales and word of mouth recommendations.
Embracing the opportunity to prosper and grow
Australia’s economy has enjoyed a remarkable bounce back from last year’s COVID crisis despite the lockdowns which pundits predict will likely ebb away at consumer confidence between now and the end of the year. There are opportunities aplenty for businesses whose quality offerings are matched by outstanding customer service, online and in real life.