Total Business Magazine

Connectivity: The Key to Better Customer Experiences

Rob Orr is Executive Director at Virgin Media Business, one of the UK’s leading communications providers, responsible for leading the enterprise, public sector, wholesale, SME and SI Channel businesses. He has over 20 years of experience in the technology sector, including past experience at Samsung Electronics, BT and Vodafone.

 

A personalised and friendly service is still vital to attracting customers.

Recently, a PwC Consumer Intelligence Series (CIS) survey found that nearly three-quarters of shoppers think customer experience is more important than price—proving that the “human touch” will always win hearts and minds. But today’s consumers want that 24/7, wherever they are.

People are no longer willing to spend their Saturday morning in a queue at their local bank branch or waiting to speak with a sales advisor. Consumers demand quick and easy access to products, information or their money, at the touch of a button.

There’s also an expectation that businesses will provide an omnichannel experience. Customers want to be able to contact companies in a variety of ways – whether by phone, online, using social media or in person. Whatever their sector, it’s vital that organisations invest in the customer journey across multiple platforms, ensuring it is as smooth as possible.

Take banking, for example. A study last year found that the most popular digital and app-based banks – Monzo, Starling, Revolut and N26 – already boast a combined 4.5 million users globally less than five years after launching. That figure continues to grow by the day.

The lesson should be clear: consumers are embracing digital services and businesses must harness the power of connectivity to create better outcomes for their customers. Fail do to so, and their customers may soon look elsewhere.

 

Transforming the physical experience

Much has been written about “the death of the high street” and many businesses have reduced their physical presence in recent years. Last year alone, there were 2,481 shop closures from the UK’s top 500 high streets and the last three years have seen 2,900 UK bank branch closures.

Rather than shutting down their bricks and mortar spaces, retailers should use technology to transform the physical space—attracting customers more engaging ways.

The Nottingham Building Society 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.

Customers can speak with the next available Nottingham Mortgage Services advisor on-demand, from any branch. This means less waiting for the whole of market mortgage advice, putting customers one step closer to owning their dream home.

In the retail sector, brands have turned to in-store technology to improve the customer experience, provide better service and allow shoppers to trial products in new ways.

Specsavers, for instance, launched an in-store Frame Styler tool in 2018. It operates via tablets capable of producing a 3D model of the customer’s face, then recommends glasses based on face shape, gender and age. Customers can try on multiple styles using 3D technology in a matter of seconds—a quick, personalised service that leaves a lasting impression.

Businesses are also investing in their own technology to free up staff time and allow them to spend more time with customers. 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. Ultimately, this means better outcomes for customers.

 

Striking the balance

Better customer experience is not only about reimagining the physical 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, inquire 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. Automated systems, when done badly, can be a complete turn off for consumers with two in five customers saying they’d leave their bank due to a bad experience. This might leave businesses wondering if they should push ahead with digital investment or leave responsibility with the customer service agents.

The answer is to strike a balance between automation and human interaction. Voice technology is making that balance 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.

 

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 do so, business leaders need to stay in touch with the latest developments in connectivity—whether that’s improving the in-store experience, revolutionising customer services 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.

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