Not too long ago, owning a personal vehicle or a landline number was a long process.
The experience itself demanded a certain level of patience as there was a waiting time that came along, where you enter the automobile company premises, wait for a few hours, see your application getting accepted for a car that you wished to purchase (whose delivery could be after a few years), and leave the place happy and satisfied!
Today, in the digital era, and in the times of abundance, we have certainly come a long way in getting a delightful customer experience.
Customers themselves are on their toes to latch onto their demands and are quite unforgiving on facing issues and delays. And why not, they have social media hearing them all the time. In terms of expectations, the phrase that sums it up, is “I want Instant GRATIFICATION. And I want it NOW.”
So, what changed all these years in terms of the customer’s expectation from a brand experience?
Consumers have not stuck to one brand anymore; they are free to explore better opportunities and values if they feel unhappy and dissatisfied. Aspects like these are beyond digital. For example, that we have gone from what was largely an economy of shortage, or limited availability, to one of abundance, and one of ample choice.
Most of the brands are competing to offer a better customer experience. And the competition has become even tougher with LPG (liberalisation, privatization and globalisation) that acquires a larger share of the business and give run for their money to their Indian counterparts to also raise their level of customer service.
But in addition to these factors, came the advent of digital!
Now there’s an instantaneous response to whatever is there on your mind. We are in the era of Google and Facebook, and Amazon and Flipkart. Brands that respond rapidly in digital. Like when you search on Google, you don’t ‘wait’ for a response. It’s already there. Or when you post something on Twitter or Facebook, you get responses pretty quickly. Or when you order on Amazon or Flipkart, and they promise quick delivery.
Social media effect
While these were in fact digital responses, the expectation of speed rubbed off, also on physical experiences and deliveries!
And then everybody also became ‘media’, thanks to social media! It has a huge effect on brands and their integrity. While for most people, their reach on social media is very limited, sometimes rants also come from people with a larger follower base, where people start sharing their own stories of bad experiences with a brand.
Now with customers having the advantage of social media, brands have had to find ways to improve customer experiences.
What are the different changes that brands are making to deliver better customer experience, on digital platforms?
What has also changed in terms of actual implementation of such changes is that the silos inside organisations are slowly breaking down. In traditional media, each department was able to manage their respective reputation, their respective customer engagement etc. However, on digital, a customer could come and talk about customer service and product quality and price all at the same time. It forces brands to put up one strong image, and to do so well, internally, they need to combine and collaborate across the departments. Something easier said than done, thanks to legacy systems.
While it might seem that providing a good customer experience, are sort of, forced defensive measure. Well, it’s not!
Digital also plays a vital role in establishing brand loyalty. Brands that deliver a fantastic experience can also hope for strong bonds of loyalty, and also for these fans to stand up and defend the brand on digital, even before the brands themselves jump in to do so.
Overall, fulfilling customer expectations and delivering good customer experience have become the need of the hour. A brand with a lesser than adequate customer experience will surely suffer in this era, and the ones that are good, can also expect significant returns and benefits, coming via customer love!
Sanjay Mehta is Jt. CEO at Mirum Digital.
First Published: IST