I still remember the day in 2018 when a leading API company walked me through the new era of customer experience where if I am at a Chanel store and my Wi-fi is hooked to the store, it will tell me the rack location of the item that I checked online. I remember getting super excited and a little creeped out at the same time. While we were getting used to the idea of a seamless customer experience, the market was abuzz with the story of a bank in Brazil which increased their revenue significantly by tracking customer movement through the main street and opening a strategic branch in the same area. I was excited to share that one with my customers! The vision was 20:20 till it got to 2020!
The best-laid plans in the guise of APIs, data science, use of AI to retain customers, using data as a service were all hinging on the premise that there will always be a PERSON, nota voice or a bot who will hold the front and collect the data, divert the traffic, and enforce the brand. While all the leading companies in Australia provide all the channels (online, call centers as well as social media), they are all working independent of each other. So here we were, with our target customer in lockdown and brands trying to service them with limited, at times no phone support, no chat support, or online channel(s) integrated properly with the backend delivery services. We were in chaos, forced back to the drawing board and it was time to re-learn everything about our end customers and their new habits.
Traditionally Australians were less demanding, but the recent influx of foreign brands and global exposure has made the traditional Aussie expect more. A CPM survey indicated that over one third (34%) of customers surveyed have stopped shopping at a company in the past year due to a poor customer service experience. Add that to the fact that Aussies like to interact only with Australians, so the contact centers were preferably onshore. Native Aussies have grown up with a casual approach to service so traditional businesses did not invest in any contact centers. For large businesses that could not cater to in-person services had to scramble to set up customer support to move to remote locations. Large banks struggled to move their on-ground staff to remote support since that meant establishing secure channels to protect sensitive data. The online channels, though well-established were not adequately supported by the backend solutions because companies had multi-channels, but they were not integrated to give a single view of the customer. I remember spending a whole day addressing the escalation from one of the client CIO when his wife ordered 5 items as a part of a single order from the online store, she got 5 different deliveries! That is not a great customer experience. What we lacked (and still do) is the single view of the customer.
The only way forward for all Aussie brands is to quickly move to an Omnichannel solution with a focus on the channels that best resonate with the end customer. CPM research indicates that in an age where technology dominates our lives, dealing with human beings trumps social and mobile channels. Across all the age groups, 61%percent attributed an important factor to good customer service experience was getting their query resolved on the first attempt and speaking with someone in Australia (60%). This brings real-time communication channels to the forefront of most of the Aussie company's strategy. Companies need to invest in training their front-line staff to make sure the First Call Resolution rate is high. Social Media presence: Companies need to start recruiting long term loyal customers as online brand ambassadors because customers tend to ask for referrals before investing in a product/ experience.
Successful customer service is supported by an Omnichannel solution for orchestrated communication with the basics of flexible infrastructure to cater to spikes, disaster recovery solution as a given. It's time Aussie businesses set their basics right before taking the huge step into the world of AI, APIs, or any futuristic technologies. We need to stop putting lipstick on a pig to make it look pretty.