In today’s digital world, consumers still value receiving a personalised and friendly service.
A recent PwC Consumer Intelligence Series (CIS) survey found that nearly three-quarters of shoppers admit that customer experience is more important than price—suggesting that proving a “human touch” will always win customers’ hearts and minds.
For example, when it comes to banks, good customer service is usually defined by how convenient it is. Consumers are no longer willing to spend their Saturday morning in a queue at their local branch – they demand quick and easy access to their money at the touch of a button. A new study by Accenture found that nearly two-thirds of consumers want speedier banking services, while eight in 10 would switch to a tech giant such as Amazon or Google if they felt their bank was unable to deliver on digital services.
Rob Orr, Executive Director, Virgin Media Business explains that keeping pace with consumer expectations is critical for business leaders seeking an edge over the competition. Whether through investing in the latest artificial intelligence (AI) powered customer service, or implementing the most up-to-date networking technology, the businesses that are harnessing the power of connectivity are winning the race and creating incredible outcomes for their customers.
Technology improving tangible experiences
Over the past three years alone, there have been 2,900 UK bank branch closures. Yet, a recent survey of people from 17 different countries found an overwhelming preference for opening a new account at a physical branch over digital channels.
Rather than shutting branches down, banks need to use technology to transform branches and attract customers in new and engaging ways.
The Nottingham has taken this to the next level using smart connectivity to help customers search for and secure a mortgage agreement. Working with Virgin Media Business, they have installed high definition video services across their entire network so customers can speak with a dedicated Nottingham Mortgage Services advisor on demand, from any branch.
Previously, customers had to wait to speak with an in-branch advisor but now they can simply walk into their closest branch and speak with the next available advisor. This means less waiting for whole of market mortgage advice that puts customers one step closer to owning their dream home.
Similarly, in the retail sector, brands have looked to improve the customer experience through in-store technology. These developments aim to make customer service faster and to allow shoppers to trial products in ways previously not possible.
Specsavers launched an in-store Frame Styler tool in 2018, operated via tablets capable of producing a 3D model of the customer’s face, and recommending glasses based on face shape, gender and age. This allows customers to try on multiple styles using 3D technology in a matter of second, offering customers a personalised service in an engaging and accessible way.
Businesses can invest in their own technology to free up staff time and allow them to spend more time with customers, too. Consider how remote working technology like Business Anywhere can unlock huge time savings and efficiencies for field teams, allowing them to better support clients and customers and less time trying to access the systems they need to do their job.
Balancing automation and authenticity
It’s not only about reimagining the physical branch or store or investing in smart working technology. It’s also important to ensure that queries and demands are dealt with in an efficient, seamless and empathetic way.
Chatbots can speed up the customer service process significantly. Pizza Hut launched a customer service chatbot on Facebook, which allows customers to place orders, enquire about payment options and manage queries. The chatbot removes the need for customers to speak directly with a member of staff, making the booking experience far more efficient.
But, getting this wrong comes at a price. Within the financial services sector, two in five customers leave banks due to a bad experience. Automated systems, when done badly, are a complete turn off for consumers, and this might leave businesses wondering if they should push ahead with digital investment or leave responsibility with the customer service agents.
The answer to the conundrum is striking a balance between automation and human interactions— and advancements in voice technology are making that possible. Using natural language processing to analyse customer speech patterns, artificial intelligence can assess an individual’s emotional state and make real-time recommendations to call centre agents. This speeds up the recommendation process and enables customers to spend less time on the phone, whilst providing them with a tailored response. Ultimately, it creates a more seamless experience for the customer.
For these systems to work, the ability to implement scalable support through cloud services is crucial. Contact centres are being transformed by smart cloud services—capable of making voice assistants and chatbots faster and more responsive to customer needs. As customer expectations continue to soar, these systems are going to be vital in ensuring businesses make the most of automation.
A growing business will inevitably need to deal with more customers and will require flexible networks and systems in place to scale and adapt. Managed SD-WAN services allow organisations to rapidly scale and alter their networks in line with their needs—meaning they can quickly adapt to periods of high demand and better support growth ambitions. This not only helps them adapt to change—it also provides resilient and secure networks that help avoid costly and damaging outages. In periods of high demand especially, the faster the customer can access a product or service and the smoother their user journey, the better.
Connectivity as a USP
Keeping up with customer demand is a never-ending challenge. In the digital era when customers have access to an array of products and services with a touch or swipe of their smartphone screen, it’s absolutely vital to get the customer experience right.
To deliver, businesses need to ensure their infrastructure can reliably support innovative new services. They should ask themselves are their networks scalable? Do they have capacity to process data quickly enough to meet business needs? If those networks haven’t been upgraded in several years, then the answer is likely ‘no’.
That’s why it’s so important that business leaders stay in touch with the latest developments in connectivity—whether that’s improving the in-store experience, revolutionising contact centres or investing in the networks needed to support their longer-term growth. An extended focus on digital services that benefit the customer is the only way for businesses to excel in the digital age.