How Middle East ecommerce companies can delight their customer
The Middle East and North Africa, by large, has embraced the concept of digitization enthusiastically. One estimate suggests AI investments could make up as much as 19 percent of the MENA retail sector's contribution to GDP by 2030. Much of this AI activity is being driven by GCC countries, as they march determinedly forward with their national economic visions. Governments such as those of the UAE and Saudi Arabia have led the way in customer experience, with some public bodies implementing chatbots to alleviate the burden on customer-facing human agents.
Digital business must automate where it can, for the employee experience, and delight where it can, for the customer experience. At a recent AMA (ask me anything) session involving industry experts from giants such as Shopify, PayPal, and Parcelhub, Freshworks uncovered what we believe are the essentials of customer delight. Here are five such essentials.
1. Whenever, wherever: accommodate your customers
In a survey, we found more than two in three consumers frequently use three or more channels to interact with brands, and those consumers expect a consistent experience across those channels. Regional businesses must respond. They must be where their customers are and be available day and night.
Online presences have all too frequently been administered as Band-Aids, especially in the wake of 2020’s Covid-induced trek to the cloud. Retail businesses were some of the standout victims, afflicted as they were with empty stores and idle employees. Efforts to correct these issues were understandably hasty, but now enterprises must craft digital models that can endure. If experiences are suboptimal, customers will make their frustration known by switching to brands that deliver responsive, omnichannel platforms with individualised offerings.
In a review of 107 million support interactions, Freshworks discovered that speed is the top priority for today’s customers. Respect your customer’s time and they will reward you for it. AI, chatbots, and other human-effort saving integrations can reinvent CX.
All these tools are now available through scalable software-as-a-service, allowing digital-experience providers to test them against KPIs such as latency and workflow complexity – both influencing factors in the time a consumer will spend before achieving a satisfactory outcome.
SaaS platforms, now the de facto standard in IT procurement, deliver ease of use, agility, flexibility, and resource optimisation. While they may not have been designed with crisis management in mind, SaaS products certainly simplify adaptation for IT teams. They are the ideal way to scale up capabilities and experiment with potentially powerful CX.
3. Speak and act as one
When a consumer engages with your brand, you must ask yourself what they expect and whether your current digital workflow can provide it. The experience gap can be bridged by ensuring all business functions, from management and marketing to warehousing and IT, understand the expectations being served and act as a unified system to meet and exceed them.
In addition, everyone must speak with a single voice and show the same initiative. In other words, when treating each customer as an individual, the enterprise must act as a consistent, uniform entity.
4. Let data be your guide
If companies are to delight consumers with CX, they must listen to the “C” to enhance the “X”. This requires capturing feedback at any touchpoint where there is an opportunity to either measure satisfaction or infer it.
The exact data captured will vary across businesses and industries, but combining interaction data, market trends, forecasts, and infrastructure and session telemetry will be of huge value. Many industries have their own benchmarks and standards that cover the unique touchpoints of customers in that sector.
The guiding principle of data analysis should be forming as clear a picture as possible of the CX. Your organisation can provide all the “X” it wants, but only the “C” can give you an actionable report card.
5. Arm yourself with superior tech
Data is useful. But without the right technology solutions, it is just ones and zeros taking up space and costing you money. Not only will regional businesses need to re-evaluate their analytics capabilities in the coming year, but they must explore how automation, AI, bots, and a host of other technologies might fit into their CX-oriented enterprise.
Back-office efficiencies that appear to have no relevance to CX can feed into it by freeing up resources. The interaction between your people, your data, and your technology stack will be critical in providing rich, self-service solutions. When handled properly, the organisation delivers swift support for enhanced CX, and frees up human agents for higher-value tasks, thus optimising the employee experience (EX) – a vital component of sound business strategy for the 2020s and beyond.
The digital economy is a conveyor belt of experiences, in which the consumer lingers where the magnetic field of CX is strongest. Or perhaps we can think of CXs like elastic bands – the strongest of which will keep the customer coming back for more while the weaker ones will snap, and the customer will be lost forever.
Data from the Freshworks survey shows customer expectations (at 63 percent) and churn (at 58 percent) to be on the rise, so regional businesses must adapt and find ways to innovate on CX. While many things have changed, one universal commercial goal remains: to be the business that consistently gets to say to customers, “Nice to see you again,” rather than, “Wait a minute, where are you going?”
About the author
Manish Mishra is the Head of Middle East & Africa at Freshworks. In his last 18 years of industry experience, he has been instrumental in building IT Services, consulting & technology products business across APAC, Europe, India, ME, UK & US with an extensive background in sales, marketing & operations.