E-commerce dependence on digital communication has drastically elevated since the pandemic. With digital now at the heart of e-commerce, how can businesses cut ties with traditional communications and embrace the best software to enhance their customer experience? We speak to Neil Barman, Chief Growth Officer for Yellow.AI on how an omnichannel experience can keep up with modern consumers needs and expectations.
What is the current state of the customer within the e-commerce space in the EMEA region?
COVID-19 has forever altered the retail landscape. Only now is a retail rebound starting to take place, with approximately 75% of US consumers having moved online in the last 12 months. While e-commerce is not something new, it’s likely to become a larger part of the retail ecosystem.
Currently, customers expect a seamless online experience and to be delighted when interacting with a brand, regardless of being online or not. A large majority of consumers reported that they are more likely to do business with a brand that is omnipresent and offers a consistent conversation with them across channels of their choice.
This is where Conversational AI will play the role of an enabler for these retailers, by allowing organisations the chance to connect with the customers at every stage of the journey. This must happen with the customer being in control of the conversation. Conversational AI will deliver the edge brands are looking for and will make it possible for retailers to offer omnichannel support, providing a frictionless journey which will lead to products being bought.
Why are so many businesses stuck in traditional communications? How is this discouraging customers?
Recently, a global luggage and accessories brand told me: ‘innovation does not necessarily mean digital, it means innovative ways of reaching out to customers’. I think a lot of this is misleading, with user experience (UX) often being confused for customer experience (CX), for example. Only now, we are seeing businesses waking up to the importance of CX and Digital Transformation.
The pandemic gave digital approaches tremendous tailwind and encouraged businesses to adopt required transformations. However, multiple customer experience use cases are yet to be explored or made available for niche categories and industries and a lot of CXOs today still cater to CX costs. It is highly overestimated and there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way we approach communication.
Ultimately, not being ready to adapt to new technologies or practices will prevent businesses from establishing a greater presence and creating innovative experiences for today’s customers.
What are the challenges and shortcomings of businesses when it comes to their e-commerce CX approach?
In May 2020, a survey by Qualtrics Institute revealed that 94% of US consumers are extremely likely to buy from businesses that offer a good customer experience. Insufficient or flawed customer data/insights can prevent businesses from achieving a good CX strategy. A lot of sourced data is unstructured and businesses need to know that this is not unused Dark Data. Enterprises need clear insights into what customers want and the obstacles they face.
Businesses in the retail sector need to create a unified platform that offers a holistic mood customer experience across all touchpoints, eliminating the concept of individual customer channels. This change will translate into immediate results for these businesses and in turn, will provide a significant long-term impact on the ROI.
How have consumer needs evolved in recent years?
Purchase decisions are no longer based on product availability, efficiency and pricing – it now depends on the availability or the experience the brands offer. Being omnichannel emphasises delivering that experience, fulfilling the customer demand at all touch points and offering functionality across different channels.
Today’s consumers are happy to pay a little extra for a particular product. If the brand is offering an experience that consumers want, then this will lead to enhanced brand loyalty. There have been multiple studies proving that an omnichannel will increase customers’ average basket spend and come back again and again.
How has the market demand changed digital communication channels since the pandemic?
Consumer behaviour has been deeply influenced by the pandemic. There has been exponential growth in online shopping, social media interaction and activity through channels like the web, mobile and voice. The decision-making process has been augmented by the research that consumers have been doing and, as such, personalised marketing has been brought to the forefront.
This personalisation has caused brand communication to change. If a brand wants to target and retain customers then the conversation has to be extremely tailored. Studies have found that 74% of consumers prefer advanced interactions when looking for answers to simple questions, which means if I’m engaging with a brand, I need to get my answers quickly and efficiently. A study by Gartner also found that consumers react negatively to irrelevant messaging, which has led brands to adjust by placing a greater emphasis on omnichannel personalisation.
What is an omnichannel experience and where is its ROI?
A consumer may want to interact with a brand at different times over different channels. Brands must be present on as many channels as possible and engage with consumers at every stage of the journey, which, in turn, creates an omnichannel experience.
Brands and retailers need to be omnichannel or they’re going to start losing consumers to competitors who can engage with them more effectively. Brands, that have a strong omnichannel presence, are going to have a competitive advantage as they are connecting with consumers.
What would you advise enterprises, specifically in the EMEA region, wanting to improve the customer experience strategy?
We must put customers at the heart of our strategy. Implementing a highly successful CX strategy is complicated and it requires certain nuances to ensure effective and sustainable results.
Automation, via Conversational AI, has become one of the key aspects of crafting a strong customer experience strategy. Having good customer-centricity also is essential as the success of automation depends on it.
Customer-centricity plays a pivotal role for brands to understand and decode the customer’s voice. The age-old phrase of ‘stepping into the customer’s shoes’ has never been more important. You have got to listen to the customer more effectively and efficiently. This is how Conversational AI can help; it enables brands to get closer to the customer in a more personalised manner.Click below to share this article