Delivering the digital customer experience

Organisations need to move faster than ever to keep up with customer demand, says Savio Tovar Dias

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Delivering the digital customer experience Dias: Organisations need outside help to keep customer-facing IT systems up to date.
By  Savio Tovar Dias Published  May 29, 2016

Customer expectations have never been higher, and for good reason – we carry powerful computers in our pockets that allow us to share photos and video, individually or group-text our friends and colleagues, check e-mail, book reservations, buy tickets, compare prices, read crowdsourced reviews and connect instantly in ways unimaginable 10 years ago.

While this can be good news for us as consumers, it is changing the rules of the game for enterprises. Previously, companies used to think of digital transformation as a choice – a set of internal initiatives to modernise their communications infrastructure or invest in mobile, for example. Digital transformation is no longer a choice – it’s a reality being driven by the market. Put simply, customers want better experiences with their favourite brands.

Some 90% of customers say they regularly switch devices during a transaction journey – often starting with online self-service before trying online chat, voice, text, email, mobile app, video or social media. Ideally, every customer wants a nearly instant, personalised solution. Also, seven out of 10 customers expect to be able to engage with companies over mobile – either inside the company’s app, through a mobile-optimised website or text messaging. More than half of customers say a bad mobile experience means they’d be less likely to engage with a company again.

It’s no surprise that 89% of companies plan to compete primarily on customer service in 2016, according to research by Gartner – and are investing in technology to do so. While this region may lag behind other parts of the globe in some areas of technology adoption, the nature of the market here – with a predominantly youthful population, highly active on social media – means enterprises in the Middle East can’t afford to ignore this trend. Indeed, according to research commissioned by BT and Avaya, consumers in the UAE are among the most tech-savvy in the world, regularly using a wide variety of different social media and communications platforms. According to the research, they are 20% more active on Facebook than the global average, while 50% use Skype several times a week.

These tech-savvy consumers now expect businesses to keep up. As a minimum, customers expect to be offered a variety of channels to communicate with organisations (89%). They also want organisations to offer the technology they are most familiar with; 83% say they would post a customer service comment on Facebook, and 78% are interested in using Skype to speak to an agent. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, 83% of consumers in the UAE would buy more from organisations that make it easier to do business with them.

As organisations look to deliver differentiated experiences, IT departments are struggling to keep pace: by the end of 2017, market demand for mobile app development services will grow five times faster than internal IT organisations can deliver them, according to Gartner. With organisations needing to predict, understand and respond to customers’ needs faster than ever, IT executives need to overcome the skills gap and deliver initiatives at customer speed.

The competitive battleground has shifted, requiring a new type of solution and means to respond to digital customer behaviour. Speed is the new currency for business transformation.

Savio Tovar Dias is director, sales engineering, AMEA & Turkey, Avaya.

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