customer engagement

March 16, 2018

There is a popular quote—about the nature of how central a customer is to any business—making the rounds in the customer service world for years. It reads, “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.”

This has been commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Growing up in the years before ecommerce was even dreamt of as a phenomenon, I remember seeing the quote along with a picture of Gandhiji adorning the walls of innumerable local stores. Indeed ‘the customer is always right’, or ‘customer is king!’ was usually the ace up the customer’s sleeve that stopped any debate dead in its tracks. With both parties laying down their cudgels, the argument was usually settled amicably in the customer’s favor.

Not a whole lot has changed since then, and yet, everything has. What used to be acceptable and satisfactory in customer service until a few years ago does not make the cut today. It is a fast-paced digital world with the rules of customer engagement rapidly changing and customer expectations vaulting ever higher.

Enter the mobile phone and its world of instant gratification. In hectic lifestyles punctuated by texting, tweeting, posting live updates, and high-speed internet connectivity, there is no place for sluggish or sub-par service. If a customer’s expectations are not met somewhere, there is no dearth of other places they can take their business to.

Remember the time when an airline ticket cost an arm and a leg, was procured after a long wait in a queue, and usually consisted of a thick booklet of papers? That is if you were lucky enough to reach the counter before their 5pm closing time. Not anymore. Now you are ready to fly after just a few taps on your mobile phone with zero human interaction, buoyant in the belief that you bagged the best deal after comparing all the available options.

Technology has raised the bar for customer experience in every possible way. Everything is accessible 24×7, from anywhere in the world. The customer is in total control of where the interaction happens. Terrible website interface? Non-responsive, mobile-unfriendly design? Poof! You have lost your customer because they clicked the little ‘x’ on the page and left.

The customer wants the best and they want it now. Businesses have no choice but to be primed to deliver. The customer today expects to be able to interact with your business across all mobile-accessible channels, including voice, SMS, instant messaging, chat, social, websites, and mobile apps.

There is a distinct shift from customer experience to ‘customer convenience’. This may not be new, but there is an ever-increasing pressure to improve response times combined with easy accessibility and availability of omni-channel solutions, which puts convenience at the helm of customer experience.

The customer of today is smart, informed, and more self-reliant than ever. They would like to do it themselves. At BankBazaar, we are seeing this to be true—the percentage of customers opting for the paperless application process which allows them to complete and self-submit their applications using eKYC is over 60%. The preference for and adoption of paperless, instant-approval financial products is more than evident. The sheer deluge of people seeking information and the right information is evidenced by our stream of SEO traffic.

People want to find the information they seek online, enabling them to educate themselves, and find suitable solutions for themselves. It is important to provide easy access to information and lightning-quick assistance when questions or problems are raised. Educate your customers about your products and services and you will earn their loyalty and inspire positive recommendations.

Social media is a critical channel for companies to communicate with their audience. Studies show that 66% of global customers expect a social media response within 24 hours, while 56% have a more positive and favorable view of those brands and organizations that respond to and interact with them via social media. Being social matters today like never before.

That brings us to content and the importance of personalization being thrown into this customer-care mix. Vanilla-canned responses are nearly passé. With the demand for quicker, accurate, and personalized responses, there is a need for dynamic-canned responses coupled with knowledge base integrations, and even machine learning.

AI—where a system learns and dynamically takes decisions—could be the new trend in addressing customers’ expectations in real time but it is not as widespread as automation (the performance of set tasks without human intervention). So while the world of business is not quite ready to place everything in the hands of bots now, AI is the next logical trend we will see when it comes to addressing customer expectations.

Evolving customer behavior and consumer demands are a given among the myriad challenges posed by the complex personal finance landscape. Enabling our customers to access the right financial products instantly, transparently, and painlessly is at the core of everything we do at BankBazaar. This is an exciting transformative time for our industry, for regulation and regulatory authorities, and for consumerism; and through it all, the customer will always remain the undisputed king.