Companies need to ensure greater customer experiences by powering end-to-end customer engagements across the entire customer journey if they want to stay ahead, writes Estiaan van der Merwe, principal engagement consultant at Decision Inc.

Now, more than ever, the customer experience is critical for companies to differentiate themselves. In the pre-pandemic days, it was not unusual to schedule a client meeting up to two weeks in advance. But with the move to hybrid work and the acceptance of digital technologies, it is now possible to make appointments with just a few hours’ lead time and conduct them online. This significantly increases the customer experience as engagement can happen far quicker than in the past.

This transition has been easier for ICT companies than businesses in other sectors. However, digital transformation has become a priority for many with decision-makers realising that they must adapt to this new environment if they are to stay relevant. The key factor in this is identifying the ways to simplify existing business processes. Take sales as an example. It is no longer acceptable for a client to wait several weeks for a proposal. There is an expectation that things must happen faster if the experience is to be improved.

Along with this, local companies need to better understand their customers. People want a personalised experience. For instance, technical support provided to a 60-year old customer will be significantly different to how the service provider deals with a 25-year old customer.

Throughout this, companies must be flexible in how they adapt to meet specific customer needs. This requires being accepting of continuous customer feedback and having the awareness of how customers feel about the experience. By doing so, the organisation can more easily make the necessary adjustments in its processes.

Critically, companies need to unlock the value of the customer data they have on hand to build a 360-degree view of the customer and determine how best to meet in their changing requirements. And then there is the opportunity to leverage advanced technologies like artificial intelligence that can help automate manual processes leaving employees available to deal with more complex customer queries.

The pandemic has made organisations realise that digital transformation will be fundamental to future success. It will be the cornerstone to improve the customer experience and stay competitive. By servicing customers in more personalised and innovative ways, the business will remain relevant and position itself for growth.