There are about 350,000 babies born around the world in one day, while there are 525,000 iPhones and close to 1.5 million Android devices sold each day. It’s simple mathematics – smartphone subscriptions are growing exponentially. Mobile phone subscribers on the planet reached 7.1 billion at the end of last year. With this figure rising annually, mobile operators and those in the e-commerce industry are seeking methods to simplify the way people connect with each other and the world around them. Experts predict that if current trends continue, by 2018 there will be nine billion connected “things” on this planet – that’s more than the current number of smartphones, TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined, meaning that the volume of tech in our lives could well double over the next four years. Are we prepared for this customer experience revolution? Customer engagement has become such a priority that many businesses predict that it could possibly overtake productivity as their primary driver for growth. It’s no surprise then that operators are putting in place plans to invent new ways in which they interact with their customers across multiple touch points, and while they search for new ways to engage they keep one important fact at the back of their minds; that customer experience is the strongest driver of loyalty. For years the world of online customer care has been a fragmented landscape of customer-initiated interactions but in the highly connected world of our very near future this model just won’t work anymore. Put simply, we need to know who our customers are and what they expect from us so we know how to interact with them. For the first time in the history of online customer care, we’re dealing with at least three generations of customers/buyers. These different demographic groups require customer care to be delivered to them in different ways. Take the younger of these generations – they’re hyper-connected (always online), social, empowered, impatient, mobile and constantly share both good and bad experiences publicly and with their peers. Our research shows that almost 80% of people will share a bad customer care experience. So, the question we need to ask ourselves is: “How do these people prefer to communicate with us?” The majority of engagement occurs via the telephone, but it’s on the decline and email – used for years – has not always been effective. Live chat, an emerging trend, is increasing rapidly and customer care organisations are looking seriously towards this as a strategic communication channel for the new generation of customers. As always, social media remains an important platform for customers to voice their opinions and to engage directly with the retailer and while this is a public forum we need to overcome our fear and realise that it gives us the opportunity to broadly promote our brand. Research suggests that in 2010 consumers spent 451 billion minutes connecting through PCs and smartphones. Three years later they were spending almost double that time engaging in the same way. Thus we conclude that smartphones and tablets are fuelling engagement.
The truth of the matter is that we need to take control and drive interaction through multi-channel engagement. The question is how. • Multi-channel engagement? It’s not about having multiple channels but about how you deliver engagement. • Simplicity? Consumers with complex decisions want a simplified experience. • Control? Customers want to engage on their terms and technicians want control over their tools so they can deliver the best experience.
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