Advice from industry experts on how to respond to rapidly changing customer demand
The consumer landscape is shifting faster than ever in the current climate. But how do businesses keep up, avoid common stumbling blocks, and digitise to meet future demand? Here our industry experts share their answers.
Introducing our experts:
- Mark Palmer, CEO at Gobeyond Partners
- Dave Pattman, MD, Solution Development at Gobeyond Partners
- Helen Murray, Chief Customer Solutions Officer at Webhelp UK
How can businesses adapt to changing customer behaviour?
Helen: Knowledge will be key. It’s absolutely essential that organisations understand their customer’s journeys and identify how these have changed as a result of the crisis.
For example, it’s clear that the face of retail has changed, perhaps forever, with many brands catering to a larger, more mixed demographic who default to e-commerce. We are all shopping more frequently online and avoiding the store experience. Subsequently, companies who establish a real depth of consumer knowledge, and who uncover and meet their customer’s core motivations and expectations at relevant points on the service path, are the most likely to succeed moving forwards.
Mark: Change will drive the evolution of business processes to meet customer demand. Being able to identify behavioural change within demographics, and how this relates to service failures and opportunities, will be crucial in shifting the dial.
Businesses must also be able to identify how and where to integrate technology in a considered way to support the end-to-end customer journey.
What stumbling blocks should businesses be aware of, during their pandemic recovery?
Mark: Investment in new infrastructure, more advanced service models and increased data capture and analysis will be the prerequisite for sustainable recovery. However, speaking realistically, finding working capital to deliver these solutions may be an issue for brands already suffering from economic pressure due to the pandemic.
The ability to make agile business decisions will be imperative and to minimise risk it is absolutely essential that investment is focused in the right places.
Dave: Added to this, consumer confidence is still fragile - although the UK index rose slightly over the summer - and early signs of recovery stand in the shadow of the second wave of the pandemic, now projected to hit Europe hard in the colder months ahead.
Brands are now challenged to create viable forecasts against shifting consumer demand, and to be adequately resourced to meet them. In this uncertain climate decisions on pivot points such as when to recruit to meet demand and when to reduce outlay become much more abstract and theoretical.
This will drive an increased need for more online services and intelligent automation, which can meet these fluctuations economically and increase flexibility and response rates.
How can brands use innovative digital thinking to respond to new consumer attitudes?
Mark: Our recent white paper revealed that, to reorient and flourish in the new consumer landscape, brands must become more adaptable, focused, digital and human. Of these four pillars, the need to become more digital is perhaps the easiest for brands to understand, but the hardest to deliver in a meaningful way.
Businesses know that new online citizens are emerging and that the world of work has undergone a radical change, but they may have difficulty identifying the pain points that this transformation will bring to their customer journeys - and how and where to embed the most useful digital offerings to best address them.
They must seek out resources to help focus their efforts to deliver rapid, effective change – and make the most out of limited resources.
Helen: Many organisations will struggle to create effective engagement strategies that maximise the power of digital intervention at the relevant points in the customer lifecycle.
If you don’t thoroughly understand the customer journey, it is difficult to automate or digitise processes that enhance customer experience. There is also a danger that you may jeopardise future ability to offer additional propositions, products and services.
Customer insight must be embedded throughout the whole digital transformation process, as it provides the basis to offer intelligent next best action tools.
Dave: Brands that honestly seek to innovate have to be willing to supersede ‘faceless’ digital experiences and really connect with their customers. Technology is changing the way service is approached, created and delivered. But we must carefully manage the juxtaposition between technology and the human touch to enhance, rather than hinder, customer experience.
Success will only be achieved through combining the right technology with a human mindset and strong digital strategy.
Find out more about how different service will look and feel in the future in our white paper, reimagining service for the new world. We've combined Webhelp’s expertise in global customer management with Gobeyond Partners’ customer-journey design, alongside our research with 500 senior business leaders, to provide a unique perspective.