Tag: customer

By Greg Gatherer, Account Manager at Liferay

In today’s competitive world, brand loyalty is no longer a guarantee for digital businesses. Customers are increasingly making purchases based on the experience that companies offer, rather than on the products or the prices. This means that customer experience has become a major differentiator for digital businesses.

Companies must find innovative ways to distinguish their offerings through the entire customer lifecycle, including later stages that still have untapped opportunities for engagement.

Customer experience doesn’t end after purchase

People have grown accustomed to doing their own research on products before engaging with a brand. Key findings from a Gartner customer experience survey show that 82% of smartphone users consult their phones before they make a purchase in-store. This means that the opportunities a company has to influence customers in the early stages of the customer lifecycle are being cut down.

But there are still ample opportunities to reach out to new customers post-purchase and continue to engage them as a way of preparing them for the next purchase with your company. Research has shown that existing customers are both easier to sell to and more profitable than new customers.

Rather than focusing on narrowing opportunities to influence new customers, businesses should find ways to nurture their existing customers, ultimately turning them into advocates that will come back to purchase again and again.

Changes in customer loyalty

If existing customers are so profitable, why do businesses neglect them in favor of new customers? Often, the answer comes down to the changing nature of customer loyalty and how difficult it is to turn people into repeat customers.

Companies used to be able to develop lifelong brand loyalty in their customers through big campaigns or traditional loyalty programs. The idea of lifelong brand fans meant that loyalty was defined as buying solely from that brand— like a staunch supporter of Coca-Cola that refused to drink Pepsi.

Now, it is incredibly easy for customers to switch brands, and they don’t hesitate to exert that right. Millennials will cite anything from poor customer experience to feeling that a brand no longer fits their identity as reasons for moving on from a previously favourite brand. Experiences are what earn customers’ loyalty today, and businesses will need to adjust their strategies in order to account for this reality. The more information and differentiators companies are able to offer with their experiences, the more loyal customers will be.

These four strategies will help you focus your efforts on engaging your existing customers in a way that creates loyalty for your brand.

1. Collect the right data

Companies need to collect information that is actionable, not just interesting. There’s no value in asking customers to give up personal details if that data cannot be analysed for new ways to advance your business. Companies would do better to focus on tracking behaviours that give them a better understanding of their customers.

With detailed insight, companies can choose to alert store reps, confirm product availability before customers show up, offer free delivery if they give online purchasing a try, or send a reminder that, if the customer comes in a day early, they’ll be able to take advantage of the store’s annual sale. These are the kinds of detailed insights that differentiate experiences, the way a mom and pop shop would be able to simply by familiarity with its customers.

2. Go beyond segmenting

One of the benefits of refocusing on engaging existing customers is that you have an opportunity to gain deeper insights by continuing to collect and analyse data over time. Track the way customer behavior changes throughout repeat purchases, and use that to inform the experience you’re creating for new customers. Eventually, you should also be able to use this data to more accurately identify who your top customers are, and what it is that keeps them consistently engaged with your company.

3. Turn service culture into a process

Great customer experience often comes down to a story about exceptional one-on-one employee-customer interactions.

Part of great customer experience is maintaining consistency across interactions through the use of technology. Take a local coffee shop as an example; if its customers pay through a mobile app, the store will automatically have a record of their usual orders. If that information is shared with the POS system when the customer walks into the store, then it doesn’t matter if they come at a different time of day or go to a different location — the cashier still knows their usual order. Customers have access to the same great experience, and it’s consistent for all customers, instead of being dependent on the regular cashier remembering a customer’s face and preferences.

4. Integrate loyalty initiatives into your digital strategy

The goal of focusing on existing customers is still to drive profit through excellent service, and that might look different than a traditional loyalty programme. Companies need to assess the success of loyalty initiatives within the context of their entire digital strategy, rather than assuming loyalty programs will be profitable on their own.

The future of customer experience

As new digital channels open up, companies will need to be prepared to manage data in a way that eliminates noise and focuses on valuable insights that can enhance the customer experience. Digital leaders are focusing heavily on transforming their companies so that their technology solutions are part of a unified platform. Business systems need to be able to tap into the many disparate touchpoints customers are interacting with and process that data quickly and efficiently. The future of customer experience depends on taking this detailed customer knowledge to scale, and using that to consistently deliver personalised experiences at the individual level. Data not only matters, it is thought to be among the most precious assets most organisations have.

By Odwa Mjo for Times Live

Bad customer service is a frustrating experience for everyone, but who would think of crashing their car into a building?

A woman in Boksburg drove her vehicle into a Standard Bank branch after apparently waiting for several hours to be served.

The woman crashed the Mercedes Benz into the glass walls of the branch after she had an argument with a bank teller regarding money withdrawal, News24 reported.

In a statement from Standard Bank obtained by TimesLIVE, the bank would not give details about the incident but only said that “the client was served in a professional manner and in line with client-service procedures. The query was of a complex nature.”

The bank said that while nobody was hurt, counselling had been offered to those affected by the incident.

A total 3 495 cases of consumer complaints were opened at the Consumer Goods & Services Ombud (CGSO) between March 2015 – February 2016, with the top five complaints relating to cellphones (951), services (795), furniture (523) electrical appliances (343) and computer accessories (140).

It should be noted that the organisation also received a staggering 14 599 calls from disgruntled consumers during that same period. While not all consumer complaints do become a liability issue, it is important that all South African businesses understand the consumer protection framework and what types of complaints can progress into legal liability claims.

This is according to Simon Colman, executive head at SHA Specialist Underwriters, who says for many years in SA, consumers had no efficient way of pursuing recourse against businesses if they felt they had been treated unfairly.

“The court processes are complex, expensive and in the end do not really service the average ‘man in the street’ who is often without financial and legal resources. The implementation of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) changed all this because this piece of legislation dictates how consumers must be treated with regards the supply of goods and services in SA.”

He says the Act serves a noble purpose, protecting consumers and also providing businesses with a blueprint to good customer service. “However, any piece of legislation is useless without good enforcement. The National Consumer Commission (NCC), the Tribunal and the various alternative dispute resolution forums are all set up to provide a levelled playing field between businesses and their customers.”

Colman explains that typically a consumer lodges a complaint initially with the retailer or supplier of product/service and the normal complaints handling process between the retailer and the consumers then takes its course.

“Most complaints are actually resolved at this level but those that are not are then referred either to the NCC or to a recognised industry body if one exists.”

“The NCC is a statutory body that is responsible for overall regulation of the consumer environment whilst the CGSO is a recognised alternative dispute resolution forum, empowered by the NCC to resolve disputes. Once the ombud has ruled on an issue at the CGSO, disgruntled consumers can still approach the NCC if they are unhappy with the outcome,” states Colman.

Not every industry subscribes to the CGSO as participation is voluntary and involves the payment of subscription fees, he says. “A business that is not a member will by default either fall under the NCC’s jurisdiction or under some other more specific industry body if one exists, for example the motor industry has its disputes heard by the Motor Industry Ombudsman.”

Looking at the disputes that went before the CGSO last year 43% were related to goods whilst 29% related to services and 21% to allegedly unfair agreements/contracts, he says. “Not all of these complaints would result in a liability claim under an insurance policy. A product liability insurance policy generally responds to third party claims after there has been some form of injury or damage caused by the product/service.

“Many of the complaints that are lodged at the various dispute forums relate to some kind of failure or defect in the product/service but do not necessarily cause any injury or damage. In those instances the consumer is often simply seeking a replacement or a refund and that would not generally be an insurable claim, especially not under a product liability insurance policy.”

He points to an example in the CGSO report where a lady alleged that a defect in sandals she bought caused her to fall and injure herself. “Due to the fact that there is an allegation of an injury being caused by a product that would be what we would call an indemnifiable (covered) event. If the supplier had a product liability policy in place and it was alleged that the sandals caused the injury, the defense costs and the damages may have been covered by insurance. Contrarily, if the consumer simply claimed for a new pair of sandals because the others were of poor quality and there was no injury or damage caused by the product supplied, that would not be a claim under the policy.”

The NCC and the various dispute resolution bodies that deal with these matters can assist in bringing about the resolution of a dispute but they do not ‘side’ with the consumer as this would be unfair, he says. “They do of course investigate the complaints to check if the consumer has grounds for protection under the CPA. Businesses that blatantly flout the law can face stiff penalties (up to 10% of their annual turnover) so it is in their interests to participate in the process and to comply with the requirements of the CPA.”

“The CGSO creates an easily accessible platform so that consumers can ‘have their say’ without having to incur the costly legal expenses associated with actually approaching the courts. The time taken to resolve a dispute is generally much shorter in the CGSO (57 days on average) than in the High Court where it can take over a year to get resolved,” Colman concludes.

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