05 Feb Improving the digital customer experience
Most of us can recall an unpleasant service encounter either as a walk-in customer faced with a rude sales associate, or as a digitally eager customer putting in your credit card details one too many times, and being charged for the product multiple times. Although unfortunate, these scenarios are common.
As internet use in the Caribbean increases and commercial banks broaden their online offerings to merchants, Caribbean entrepreneurs and traditional retail businesses are building digital capabilities by adopting e-commerce and other digital platforms to drive sales, interact with customers and address service concerns. Inspired by international advertisements where customers order online and either pick-up in-store or request home delivery, Caribbean customers are expecting a seamless integration of experiences across all channels, whether mobile application, website, retail store, call center or self-service kiosk. While this level of integration is lead by larger regional businesses, multi-channel conveniences requires that businesses enable transactions and deliver services that are simple, seamless, consistent and of the highest quality.
So what steps should businesses and entrepreneurs undertake to ensure the digital experience meets customer expectations and supports business objectives.
- Identify the customer segment for each digital channel
Which of our customer segments actually use our digital channels? How do they behave? Which transactions do they conduct? A business that rushes to introduce a digital channel without first answering these questions will be misallocating good resources and potentially creating customer dissonance with the brand should the channel not meet expectations. By identifying the customers currently using or most likely to use each digital channel, the business will be able to define the role the specific channel plays in their lives and establish a general demographic profile to target promotions and increase sales more effectively.
In early August 2016, the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica (NCB) launched its ‘NCB Quisk’ solution, a mobile money account that “enables persons to send and receive monies and pay via text messaging”. By so doing, NCB identified the customer segments that will likely use its mobile services thereby leading to, motivated customers, a new channel and new sources of revenue.
- Understand the customer journey from end-to-end
Customers use digital channels for many different reasons. They make purchases, access content and undertake other self-service transactions. Along this journey, they may encounter inconsistent information, incomplete transactions due to poor loading times or are invariably deferred to another channel to complete a transaction or resolve an issue. With the advent of the online review, customer experiences good and bad are broadcasted for the world to see and often picked up by the traditional media. Caribbean businesses are therefore able to use these insights to deepen their understanding of customers’ experiences directly. To translate this information into real value (reduced – silos, contact points and customer effort), businesses need to then proactively map each step the customer takes, each process encountered, within each digital channel, to identify the enablers and inhibitors of memorable customer experiences that could eventually be worthy of brand advocacy.
Following what may have been proactive customer journey mapping, an increase in customer complaints or recognition of technology obsolescence, Caribbean Airlines (CAL) in September 2016 launched its upgraded mobile website as part of an overall “customer focus” renewal. The new mobile website aims in part to simplify the booking and check-in processes and enhance the features for and information on flights and its frequent flyer programme. For CAL, the website acts as a sales, information delivery, customer feedback and overall marketing channel, so ensuring the customer experiences easy navigation, is able to complete transactions and find relevant and timely information is critical to its business objectives. While the verdict is still out on the impact of the change on customers’ experience, if managed effectively, CAL can reduce customer pain points, increase sales, improve marketing effectiveness and enhance cross-functional integration with its loyalty miles program and cargo services.
- Measure channel performance for continuous improvement
Being current with the experience of digital customers enables the business to address bottlenecks, develop improvement strategies and outline policies for ongoing enhancement. Changes in technology will force its own improvements to the digital platform but the objective should be to define practical and measurable indicators that will allow the business to remain flexibility and responsive for continuous customer experience improvement. Whether the business measures traffic levels, number of unique visitors or whatever the specific indicators, it will be influenced by the overall strategic objectives of the business and will vary from channel to channel based on their features.
Finally it will allow the business to revisit protocols, processes, present capabilities and functional responsibilities towards ensuring the experience delivers on the brand promise.
The opportunities from mapping your customer’s journey are immediately available to enhance the service experience as well as pursue new business opportunities. Adopting new digital channels without first understanding the customer segment likely to use the channel and their experiences using the channel once launched, exposes the business to resource wastage, increased silos across functional areas and damages the brand. It requires a cultural shift in most instances for more agility and accountability but ultimately when executed well the business generates personalized experiences that aligns with the brand promise; increases conveniences and interaction points for customers and expands the sales channels. Investing in digital channels can be very rewarding for businesses, the challenge is to foster the right culture for agility, minimize pain points along the end-to-end process and reward employees for their commitment and customers for their loyalty.