The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to accelerate the shift to digital-first in their customers-related initiatives – from customer engagement to transactions and experiences.
The IDC COVID-19 Impact Survey revealed that 47% of senior executives in the region expect that their customer engagement model (including commerce, support) will need to be expanded online/digital or self-service as a result of the pandemic.
As organizations increase their efforts to stay relevant and connected with their customers, they must take a holistic approach that focuses on empathy@scale – delivering the experiences that customers and consumers expect.
Experience as a brand
In today's technology-driven world, customers and consumers have made the experience they receive from a brand a crucial aspect of any engagement or customer journey. In the next normal, organizations will be competing for customers and loyalty will increasingly be based upon the experience that has been delivered, not just the product that has been purchased.
Technology plays a key role in the customer experience cycle – from understanding customer needs within context and keeping relevant conversations going, to the creation of effective journeys and the overall delivery of memorable experiences.
Today, customers are more technologically connected than ever and their pervasive access to technologies is changing their relationship with brands.
Customers want to be understood throughout the buying journey, and it is that understanding that makes our interactions relevant and more relatable.
To thrive, organizations should focus on employing contextual awareness, frictionless engagement, active learning, and sentiment measurement to provide what customers desire – a more human experience in a world eclipsed by technology. That is Empathy at Scale.
"Customers are the reason why we are in business, and this crisis should not divert our focus from driving customer excellence. COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to digital-first requiring organizations to rethink processes, operations and customer engagement initiatives," says Daniel-Zoe Jimenez, associate vice president for Digital Transformation, Future Enterprise, and SMB at IDC Asia/Pacific.
He opined that by leveraging digital technologies, organizations will be able to deliver empathy@scale.
According to IDC 69% of C-level executives in Asia/Pacific see technology as vital in achieving this goal.
"To compete effectively in the next normal, organizations must harness technology to stay connected, deliver empathy, and build trust with their customers and their ecosystem," continued Jimenez.
Responding to the customer
Leading Asia/Pacific organizations are prioritizing digital-first engagements and leveraging digital technologies to better understand and respond to their evolving customers' wants and needs:
Contextualized conversations – telecom service provides such as Maxis (Malaysia) and Singtel (Singapore) are leveraging in-store digital assistants to enable customer self-service, while ensuring prompt and consistent customer interactions in helping customers to manage their phone plans, select new devices, and assign queue numbers.
Frictionless journeys – UnionBank (Philippines) and Nissan (Thailand) brought their services straight to homes and communities using mobile banking vans and home-based vehicle test drives respectively.
Pre-emptive experiences – Domino's delivers pizzas in only five minutes from point of order to delivery using predictive machine learning. By pre-empting the popular pizzas based on store location and historical order trends, Domino's can initiate pizza preparation before the customer orders it and thereby improving the overall experience.
Sentiment-based optimizations – Airbnb optimizes two-way matches between guests and hosts based on what drives satisfaction for them as individuals. Using dozens of feedback points and satisfaction parameters such as star ratings, reviews, response rates and times, and previous booking decisions, Airbnb leverages intelligent matching capabilities to ensure that both parties are pleased with the outcome of the transaction.
The Future of Customers and Consumers (FoCC) is characterized by the changing and shifting nature of the relationship between customers and brands through the lens or prism of technology.
IDC defines the FoCC as an empathetic relationship between customers and brands built on what the customer wants and how they want to be treated through the technology lens of awareness, engaging, learning, and measuring.