Customer experience is one of those tricky things to get right. It’s even harder when recovering from a global pandemic.
Before COVID-19 forced everything online, companies struggled to deliver valuable digital experiences. While digital transformation was expedited, mostly out of necessity to adapt to the pandemic reality, many businesses still missed key opportunities to not only meet the expectations of digital customers, but provide even greater value to them.
In fact, if your business wasn’t already capitalizing on shifting online behavior to deliver an exceptional, personalized customer experience, you were falling behind in the new digital era of consumer loyalty even before the pandemic began.
As customers demand more from brands, organizations must see digital transformation as more than a method to enable new technologies — but also a way to drive more consumer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty.
Customer loyalty is still king
Companies work hard to win customers. As competition heats up in today’s on-demand, digital world – brands must work even harder to keep them.
According to CCW Digital Research, 58 percent of consumers now care more about the customer experience when deciding which brands to purchase, and that number is only going to rise. “Loyalty leaders” – companies at the top of their industries in satisfaction rankings for three or more years – grow revenues 2.5 times as fast as competitors than those that lag in customer experience. It’s no surprise that these brands are also the most proactive when it comes to digital transformation initiatives.
COVID-19 made that need for digital transformation as a brand differentiator even more urgent. And even as we recover from the pandemic, that expectation will remain. For businesses to survive and thrive today, the goal of digital transformation should be to create a digital business and not just one that is “doing digital.” In customer loyalty, businesses meeting customers’ digital expectations — rather than just enabling online capabilities — are able to set themselves apart from the pack.
COVID-19 changed consumer behavior
COVID-19 caused several shifts in customer behaviors, making digital transformation in customer service even more important. For starters, even though almost every customer touchpoint is now digital, consumers are looking for brands to create more relevance and human connection than ever before.
As digital channels like chat, email, social media or text messages become an even bigger part of our work and personal lives, consumers also want more instant replies in their customer experiences. In fact, 82 percent of consumers are now more comfortable using digital support – such as online chat or customer service via social media.
Customers are also seeking new ways to simplify the purchasing journey, which means businesses need to understand the big moments that matter along the way and how to tailor the buying experience to each person. From product recommendations to websites that tailor the shopping experience to a person’s browsing habits, digital transformation of business services can enable personalization – and drive all the benefits that come with it, such as improved sales conversion, repeat sales, and of course, customer loyalty.
The key for businesses looking ahead beyond the pandemic is to invest in operationally efficient technologies and partners that simultaneously improve customer engagement. Industries from retail to grocery shopping now require new remote or online customer experiences that never did before. New capabilities, such as self-service experience via automation, can put the customers in the driver’s seat of these experiences – and allow your organization to deliver a concierge-like experience, without the concierge effort.
Companies expedite digital transformation through partnerships
While it’s estimated that COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation strategies by 5 to 8 years, many shifts were foundational capabilities to enable new online services. As companies stabilize and look ahead to a post-pandemic future, they must consider how they will use technology to understand customer intent, gather better data, automate processes and continue the evolution of self-service experiences.
But for many organizations, the approach to digital transformation shouldn’t always be “tech first, followed by talent” — or vice versa. Companies should not favor technology over people or the opposite. Instead, the balance should come from choosing the right solutions to create the right outcomes.
To find this balance, many companies need help from external partners. Scaling CX capabilities was — and continues to be — a tremendous challenge for any company during and in the aftermath of a pandemic. That’s why many businesses are choosing to outsource to experts who do this work every day. Gone are the days where contact centers are referred to as cost centers; Deloitte’s Andy Haas explains that BPOs are the primary engagement vehicle as customers return. Building CX capacity has helped companies successfully emerge from the pandemic — some even stronger than before.
By approaching digital transformation with a customer-first mentality, and investing in the right technology and bringing on the right partners, companies can drive more customer satisfaction with less effort and cost. In a world where everything is digital, the answer to improving customer loyalty lies in digital transformation.