Digital, data and the new customer experience imperative

06 July 2021 5 min. read

Companies throughout Asia Pacific (APAC) have been forced to adapt in many ways following the events of 2020, but customer experience (CX) was already shifting before then. As expectation levels have heightened, new mechanisms, apps and tools have been developed to address them. CX is now a business imperative, the digital and physical worlds are merging, and technology is providing the tools business needs to thrive. 

CX has become the key to business competitiveness. According to Gartner, 89% of companies now compete primarily based on customer experience and a Walker study forecasts that CX will imminently overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Digital technology is the engine that is powering CX forward.

What does this mean for businesses?

It means APAC businesses should focus on getting closer to customers by building a data-driven CX operation. Data needs to flow throughout your whole organisation if you want to maximise its potential and give your customers an enhanced experience. If your data-driven activities are siloed in your company, then your customers’ journeys will be fragmented.

Nick Lambert, Senior Vice President Asia Pacific, Orange Business Services

How do we deliver an enhanced CX? You need to think, and act, digital using an approach that combines listening, analysing and predicting. That is the route to improving CX and anticipating the demands and expectations of your customers. 

“Listening” is about gathering data from customer engagements and feedback, leveraging all your interactions with your customers and using it to enhance your offering. That might be engagements via your customer support agents in your contact centre, or chatbots, or your website or artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) solutions. But it should happen at each stage of your customer’s journey with you. 

The “analysis” stage is about taking that customer data and analysing it at different touchpoints along the customer journey. You might have one customer who is very satisfied with their interactions with you using one channel, but that might change using a different channel. So, visibility is essential.

“Predicting” is the third element of the experience management mix: with full visibility of what your customers think of their experience with you, you’re able to anticipate their future demands and activities. Maximising your omnichannel operations and your social interactions with customers helps build a profile of your customers, which helps you deliver a tailored, personalised experience.

The AI factor

AI can help you get more out of your data and enhance CX. AI tools can understand unstructured information in the same way humans do, but are able to process vast amounts of data at much faster speeds. Machine learning (ML) also learns from interactions, remembers customers’ preferences, and can understand speech and text. And because it learns the more it is used, ML grows to understand your customers and thereby drives greater personalisation. 

AI enhances your customer support at a fundamental level using chatbots: voice bots can address basic customer needs like solving queries and providing efficient customer service. Using AI, your chatbots can operate as virtual assistants that obey commands and answer questions and engaging customers in a conversation. AI, supported by Natural Language Processing (NLP) and ML, automates simple services for customers and saves them time and hassle.

Further reading: Not the US or China, but Japan leads the world in AI

Furthermore, AI also enables smarter, faster decision-making in your organisation. For example, AI can analyse the time your customers spend on your website, or how long they spend engaging with you by email or other social channels. Doing this lets you join up all your communication channels and share data across your whole company. This prevents silos, enhances your customers’ CX journey overall and makes sure you don’t miss any data along the way. 

A workforce management solution is another tool that helps enterprises maximise the quality of CX operations. It helps you fully optimise resources and boost worker performance. By being able to accurately predict your future staffing needs and skill combinations in line with customer demand, you can reduce overtime costs and labour waste. The result is an improved ROI and more satisfied customers thanks to better employee scheduling. 

Data powering CX

The leading CX trends in APAC are considered to be digital customer experience and data and analytics, with around half of companies saying digital CX is their top priority. On top of that, three of the top five fastest-growing countries in the world for internet usage are in APAC. These countries’ users generate more data than ever before, and the way they consume products and services is powered by it. Enterprises need to make the most of that data. 

Research by Salesforce found that 90% of companies that use data analytics found they improved their company’s ability to deliver a great CX.

These trends should influence how APAC companies engage with customers. I believe CX is going to be more essential than ever to business success, and moving forward, customers will expect an experience that merges the digital and the physical.

With that in mind, you need to right CX strategy in place to give your customers what they expect. You need to align and integrate all the tools, systems and underlying processes that sit beneath your CX and make it as easy as possible for customers to engage and interact with you. 

About the author: Nick Lambert is Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific at Orange Business Services.