Brands in Australia and New Zealand have been understandably concerned about the recent arrival of Amazon’s full retail offer. But it also offers great opportunity for those willing to step up to the customer experience challenge.
Firstly, business owners need to accept the fact that leading online operators like Amazon really do affect every other business (not just online). When a customer experiences industry-leading functionality and service (and the predictive intelligence that use of data allows), it becomes the benchmark against which all others are measured.
This jump in customer expectation is something, though, that shouldn’t be feared. Yes, Amazon is very good at what it does but that’s no reason to lose heart. To compete in this new world order of data-driven business, there’s plenty you can do to ensure you not only survive but thrive.
You need to be customer centric, not product centric. The best approach for businesses playing in a competing space is to first ensure that your customer engagement processes are as streamlined as possible. You need to simplify everything.
The first thing we do with clients is to look at the way processes are managed. If a customer wants to buy a product or order a service, what steps do they go through? Is it easy and frictionless? Does the customer have all the information they need to move smoothly through the buying process? That's number one.
Once the customer has purchased the product or service, do they have everything they need to know how to use it? And if something goes wrong, do they know what to do? What is in place to support that purchase?
For a business to truly compete in a post-Amazon world, it needs to master every aspect of the customer journey. This also means the business’s senior managers must fully understand the customer service experience from the customer’s point of view. In my blog How to Test your Customer Service, I outline how senior managers should test this experience by becoming an ‘undercover customer’.
When a manager goes undercover, they can test recent changes to the system, they can find out whether the experience really is as simple and streamlined as it should be, and they can check consistency of branding, offers, information and voice across all channels.
Truly understand your customers
How well do you know your customers? Most brands have a basic idea in terms of gender, socioeconomic grouping, or geographic location. That understanding, however, must be a lot deeper.
With a greater understanding, a business will discover that it has entirely new and enormously powerful tools at its disposal. For example, do you know why your customers choose you over competitors?
Often, in customer surveys, if somebody gives a business a low rating then that rating gets all the attention. The business considers that it must do all it can to reduce the number of low ratings. But just as important are the high ratings. If someone is completely sold on your brand, it’s important to know why.
These are the type of questions that Salmat’s Voice of Customer (VoC) solution can help with. Where did your customer come from and what attracted them to you? What do they like about the products you’re selling, and what would they like to see in the future?
This targeted audience insight gives those in your organisation, whether it’s frontline sales or those in marketing, the right tools to enhance the customer experience and grow your business. So, in addition to fixing issues uncovered by low ratings, you also need to focus on finding more of the customers who love your brand and rate it highly.
Lifting your game
To fend off the Amazons of the world, companies need to take a fresh look at everything they do: from their business model to what the rest of their industry is doing. But in the end, it still comes back to your customer experience.
To assist with this, there are systems available now like VoC where you can build a truer picture of your customers from multiple data sources such as marketing surveys, social media conversations, clickstream data, and sales data.
Just like Amazon, you should be putting your data to work.
No business is immune
The rise in customer expectation means businesses now compete not just peer to peer but across industries. Look at Australian banks, for example, who have traditionally only needed to worry about their opposite numbers.
But these days, if a similarly-sized business outside that industry, such as an energy provider, deploys a new app or some other new way to proactively engage with their customers, those customers are going to expect similar functionality elsewhere: whether it’s from their bank, insurance company or telco.
I experienced this when I switched my personal accounts to the Commonwealth Bank because their smartphone app was so easy to use. I now want that level of functionality from every company I deal with.
No-one’s denying that the Amazons of the world have a jump on most businesses with regard to customer experience. They have developed their own solution for quick, efficient delivery and they're doing it at a competitive price point while bundling up all kinds of add-ons.
But there’s no reason we can’t all learn from that. By looking closely at what you do differently, and making customer experience the number one priority you, like Amazon, can become a threat to those that are not evolving quickly enough.
Find out more about how we can help you serve your customers here or call us on 1300 725 628.