Bringing the Customer Experience into the Digital Age
Today’s customers shop online. They check their healthcare test results online. They text, tweet, or use a browser to make reservations at hotels, airlines, and car rental agencies, and to purchase tickets to sporting or cultural events. They check into hotel rooms and airline flights online. They even text emojis to buy pizzas!
Changing the way customers pay
Today, customers handle financial transactions totally differently. There’s rarely any need to physically go to the bank. You can make a deposit to any bank account – checking or savings – by using your smartphone and your bank’s mobile app. The app prompts you to select the account in which to deposit the money and supply the amount of the deposit. You then take photos of the front and back of each the check you intend to deposit – no more deposit tickets – and you tap Send. The app connects with your bank and, in a few seconds, you see a message on your smartphone indicating that you’ve made a deposit. And that message is, essentially, your receipt.
Customers can still write checks today to pay for goods or services they purchase, but most don’t because of the hassles associated with providing identification. Most customers find it much easier to simply use debit cards to make a payment directly from a checking account. Or, they use credit cards to postpone payment until they receive a bill from the company.
Even the way customers use debit and credit cards is changing; they don’t need to swipe a card, sign, or enter a PIN anymore. They just tap on the machine or use their phones to charge their cards.
To pay bills from the electric company or the gas company, customers can write checks but again, most find it simpler and easier – and cheaper, since there’s no postage involved – to visit their bank’s website and use the bank’s online bill payment tool. Online bill payment tools enable the customer to set up vendors just once and then pay them whenever bills come due.
The banking experience in the digital age
For the most part, banking has become self‐service. When customers need cash, they can go to the bank, but they no longer need to go inside. They can, instead, use the bank’s ATM to withdraw money from any account. Fewer people are involved in the transaction, and customers spend less time in line, not to mention that they also bank on their own schedules.
Customers can also make deposits at ATMs, but why bother when using a smartphone is so much easier?
Customers can check the balances of all bank accounts by logging in to their bank’s website either via a browser or using their smartphone’s mobile app. The way customers handle financial transactions has essentially eliminated the need for savings passbooks, checkbook registers, and in most cases, even writing checks.
Mobile commerce is expanding
Effectively, customer interactions with businesses today rarely occur in person. Most contact happens through electronic means. Thirty years ago, businesses drove technological advances. But today, consumers are driving technological advances. They are demanding the ability to interact with your business in the way that is most convenient for them.
Further, today’s consumer choices have broadened; they aren’t limited to visiting the local mall to shop. Instead, using digital technology, they can shop any place in the world. Just think of Christmas: Because of expanding mobile commerce, customers can get their shopping done at the busiest time of year without setting foot in a store or post office.
Not long ago, most of us limited the use of our mobile devices to finding basic information. We reserved conducting highly personal interactions, like shopping for goods or making financial transactions, to a more “secure” location, like the local store or bank. We didn’t yet trust that our devices were secure enough to enable us to safely make purchases or pay bills.
Redefining the when, where and how of customer experience
Today, many of us are confident that these issues have been resolved. We’re more willing to complete the transaction on a mobile device. And, because so many of us are willing to use mobile devices to shop or bank, we’re in a position to make and execute purchase decisions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
That kind of demand from customers puts today’s businesses in the hot seat. You’ve always had to meet your customers’ needs; now, you have to do so at an increased pace, during new hours, using new methods. While voice‐based communication with customers still plays a strong role, consumers are increasingly looking to digital communication methods and demanding the flexibility to interact with companies through the customer’s preferred media.
Keep customers by keeping customers happy
And, because customers are no longer limited to making purchases locally, you have to make certain that providing positive customer experience moves up in the hierarchy of your business’s priorities. In this way, your business goals will reflect the importance of customer satisfaction and help you keep existing customers and gain new ones.
To compete and grow your revenue, you’ve always had to understand who your customer is, but today, that understanding is even more important. Without sound knowledge about your customer, you can’t expect to deliver an outstanding customer experience.