By Jeremy Osborne, Regional GTM Manager at Infobip
Modern consumers have become accustomed to communicating with brands over their preferred communication channels, whether this is chat, voice or other virtual experiences, meaning that offering a Unified Customer Experience (UCX) is key for businesses to build long-lasting customer relationships.
UCX typically involves customer support, sales, marketing, and in-store experience, with the key being to synchronise multiple channels through an omnichannel approach to create a single, seamless journey for customers. Increased variety and competition will both contribute to developing a more modern and connected consumer base. Retailers who prioritise an omnichannel approach in their CX by connecting with consumers on their preferred channels will have a competitive advantage.
An omnichannel CX consists of individual customer touchpoints, across a variety of channels that seamlessly connect, allowing customers to pick up where they left off on one channel and continue their engagement on another. This highlights the importance of leveraging Know Your Customer processes at each touchpoint to ensure that communication stays consistent, as well as customised and customer-specific, during the entire customer journey. Collecting customer data throughout this process will enable companies to ensure that the customer journey remains personalised, and that customer behaviour can ultimately be predicted.
According to a Labour Research Service report, a staggering 53% of income earners in Africa are aged between 16 and 34. Urbanisation, access to mobile communications and a growing younger demographic will continue to drive growth and innovation in African retail. As they move from informal to formal retail and eCommerce, African consumers will have more variety, which will also lead to competitive pricing, and factors like rising inflation will make consumers re-evaluate priorities and reconsider how and when they spend their money. The vendors and service providers that provide the best customer experience will excel in this competitive space.
However, when implementing a unified omnichannel CX, customer engagement will require the reimagining of retail with touchless customer engagement. Retailers will essentially need to decrease human interaction by making browsing catalogues, menus, ordering, delivery and payments digital, as well as making these elements available on a variety of platforms of the customers’ choice. Stores can offer complete e-commerce ordering and payment or a hybrid approach, enabling in-store appointment booking, self-directed checkout and payment.
Customers have become accustomed to communicating with robots via chatbots and automated SMS messages. For consumers, interacting with keyword-driven chatbots via channels like WhatsApp or SMS means that many of the answers they need from a customer service perspective are available in a matter of seconds. When a more personalised, human response is needed, the inquiry can be seamlessly escalated to an agent who already has all the customer’s information at hand.
Modern messaging also provides a perfect platform for customer feedback. WhatsApp allows customers to quickly get in touch about late deliveries or unsatisfactory orders. With swift action, this will minimise the likelihood of customers taking to social media to complain about a service. Messaging also helps manage and coordinate delivery fleets to ensure optimal pickup and delivery times, so that everything runs smoothly.
The long-term impact of touchless engagement in CX means putting in place technologies and processes that allow customers to choose their preferred communication channels and whether or not they want to opt-in or out of human interaction. This will ultimately result in businesses delighting their customers and improving customer retention.
Tools must support outcome
Brands should ensure that the technology tools they want to use are able to support their desired outcome, whether this is enabling the creation of innovative solutions, achieving a specific customer-centric goal, or delivering ultra-human experiences. The technology must align with an organisation’s omnichannel CX model.
Understanding the tools at your disposal and how to use them effectively is crucial. Most brands use advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to connect customer experiences across all their channels and platforms. An omnichannel approach will also simulate the human touch by making interactions more personal and platform-specific.
The African retail sector is at a critical point, providing organisations with the opportunity to meet customers’ shifting behaviours and preferences to gain longer-term customer loyalty. Retailers that don’t prioritise CX are at risk of losing out.
Provide suitable touchpoints
CX goes beyond delivering impressive service and offering highly competitive prices – it is about predicting the needs of the customers and providing suitable solutions. This approach will provide a foundation to build a reliable omnichannel strategy.
As a result, organisations must leverage omnichannel CX to gain a competitive edge, and the success of a unified omnichannel CX strategy comes down to accurate data, advanced technology and a customer-centric organisational culture. Together, these elements will empower enterprises to deliver the best CX.