The customer is king is a saying that goes back to the days when customer service was called ‘complaints’ and the interaction was one way. Towards the customer.
That has been changing for some time. Now, as with many other arenas and technologies, COVID-19 has accelerated the changed this dramatically.
As Rachael Barger, President of SAP in Asia Pacific said at the ‘Forward Together’ “during challenging times is when customer loyalty is paramount. Leading organisations actually have a few common characteristics on how they listen and respond to customer needs.” She went on to say that “leaders maintain flexible routes to market, which enable them to quickly react and to take advantage of new market opportunities; many of which maintain customer-centric commerce channels across any channel that their customers want to interact on.”
Now, even startups are concentrating on the customer experience. A recent survey by Zendesk showed that the best performing startups have a customer experience strategy from the very beginning. Sadly, 77% of their respondents said they did not have a strategy but of those that do, 33% are likely to add omnichannel support at an early stage in their growth.
This move towards having a greater focus on customer service – rather than just talking about it at shareholder meetings – was borne out again at our own event last week, Cutting the BS from BSS automation, not only by the speakers but by a poll that we ran before the event.
Asked about the future of customer interaction, a significant number mentioned messaging and social media and automated chatbots but the panel concluded that telcos (in this case) must support an omni channel strategy.
As the world transforms from physical to digital and telcos transform from ‘inside out’ companies to ‘outside-in’ companies, they have, finally, been forced to change their outlook. From imposing services in an almost linear fashion they are now part of a communications ecosystem whose driver is the customer and whose products are formed by the ecosystem.
COVID-19 has also brought about a significant change in brand perception and this will last beyond the end of the crisis. ‘Did they help?’ will become a question that forms part of how a brand is perceived – and telcos are superbly placed to attract the answer ‘yes’.
It has taken a long time for this enormous change to happen and it took a global crisis to get it fully embedded but it does seem as if, finally, the customer really is king.