If a business wants to be successful in this day and age it has to constantly adapt to the ever-changing needs of customer’s expectations. Here’s BankBazaar CPO Rati Shetty’s take on it.
There was a very popular quote making the rounds in the customer service world for years about the nature of how central a customer is to any business. It read, “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.”
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This has been commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Growing up in the years before e-commerce was even dreamt of as a phenomenon, I remember seeing the quote along with a picture of Gandhi adorning the walls of innumerable local stores. Indeed, “The customer is always right” or “Customer is king!” was usually the ace up the customer’s sleeve that stopped any debate dead in its tracks. With both parties laying down their cudgels, the argument was usually settled amicably in the customer’s favour.
Not a whole lot has changed since then, and yet, everything has. What used to be acceptable and satisfactory in customer service up until a few years ago does not make the cut today. It’s a fast-paced digital world today with the rules of customer engagement rapidly changing and customer expectations vaulting ever higher.
Enter the mobile phone and its world of instant gratification. With hectic lifestyles punctuated by texting, tweeting, posting live updates, and high-speed internet connectivity, there’s no place for sluggish or sub-par service. If a customer’s expectations are not met somewhere, there’s no dearth of other places they can take their business to.
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Remember back when an airline ticket cost an arm and a leg, procured after a long wait in a queue, and usually consisted of a thick booklet of papers? That’s if you were lucky enough to reach the counter before their 5PM closing time. Not anymore. Now you’re ready to fly after just a few taps on your mobile phone with zero human interaction, buoyant in the belief that you bagged the best deal after comparing all the available options.
Technology has raised the bar for customer experience in every way possible. Everything is accessible 24×7, from anywhere in the world. The customer is in total control of where the interaction happens. Terrible website interface? Non-responsive, mobile-unfriendly design? Poof! You’ve lost your customer because they clicked the little ‘x’ on the page and left.
The customer wants the best and they want it now. Businesses have no choice but to be primed to deliver. The customer today expects to be able to interact with your business across all mobile-accessible channels, including voice, SMS, instant messaging, chat, social, websites and mobile apps.
There’s a distinct shift from customer experience to ‘customer convenience’. This may not be new, but there is ever-increasing pressure to improve response times combined with easy accessibility and availability of omnichannel solutions, which puts convenience at the very helm of customer experience.
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The customer of today is smart, informed, and more self-reliant than ever. They like to do things themselves. At BankBazaar, we’re seeing this to be true – the percentage of customers opting for the paperless application process which allows them to complete and self-submit their applications using eKYC is over 60%. The preference for and adoption of paperless, instant-approval financial products is more than evident. The sheer deluge of people seeking information and the right information is evidenced by our stream of SEO traffic.
People want to find the information they seek online, enabling them to educate themselves and find suitable solutions for themselves. It is important to provide easy access to information and lightning-quick assistance when questions or problems are raised. Educate your customers about your products and services and you’ll earn their loyalty and inspire positive recommendations.
Social media is a critical channel for companies to communicate with their audience. Studies show that 66% of global customers expect a social media response within 24 hours, while 56% indicated that they have a more positive and favourable view of those brands and organisations that respond to and interact with their customers via social media. Being social matters today like never before.
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That brings us to content and the importance of personalisation being thrown into this customer-care mix. Vanilla canned responses are nearly passé. With the demand for quicker, accurate, and personalised responses, there’s a need for dynamic canned responses coupled with knowledge base integrations, and even machine learning.
AI – where a system learns and dynamically takes decisions – could be the new trend in addressing customers’ expectations in real time but it is not as widespread as automation (the performance of set tasks without human intervention). So while the world of business isn’t quite ready to place everything into the hands of bots now, AI is the next logical trend we’ll see when it comes to addressing customers’ expectations.
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Evolving customer behaviour and consumer demands is a given in the myriad challenges posed by the complex personal finance landscape. Enabling our customers to access the right financial products instantly, transparently, and painlessly is at the core of everything we do at BankBazaar.
This is an exciting transformative time for our industry, for regulation and regulatory authorities, for consumerism – and through it all, the customer will always remain the undisputed king.
This article was first published in The Smart Manager, a management magazine.