The customer loyalty and retention field has been changing rapidly and is most likely to accelerate within the next few years. These changes have made companies change their outlook on customer relations and now view their loyalty investments as an opportunity to gain competitive advantage and differentiate from competitors.
This has seen new technology incorporated to the customer relations department to help anticipate customer needs, tailor business processes to best serve customers and ultimately improve the efficiency of their businesses.
Despite the opportunities technology has presented, it has also brought about a number of hardships to the customer relation experiences as well. These challenges need to be addressed in order to maintain customer loyalty in businesses. They include;
- More customer alternatives
Customers now want more choices in how they communicate with a company. They want diversity in channels choose from to get their issues addressed in a timely manner. It can be through the use of emails, live-chat and social media. Companies that have incorporated technology into their customer relations have to use as many of these options to maintain customer loyalty. However, the customers want the channels to be as seamless as possible, whereby you find a client with Safaricom switching from live-chat to a phone call and expecting the customer care agent to have the same information about him instantly. This in turn presents a problem to the companies of keeping up with the client’s needs.
- Data collection and analysis
Technology has introduced software which companies use to collect data, analyze it and measure customer user behavior in a bid to connect with the customers on a deeper level. The data has to be categorized and analyzed in the most efficient ways. This data which is both structured and unstructured, adds to the tedious challenge of finding ways to organize data into information that can be usable.
- Unresponsive social media
Most companies own social media accounts like instagram, face book, twitter and snapchat. These accounts enable the user to ask business oriented questions as well as voice complaints. Businesses that are unresponsive on social media or do not provide timely response risk losing out on customer loyalty.
- Digital competence
Digital technology is essential to customer service relations. Customers want to interact with companies on social media apps from any kind of a device and from any location. This prompts companies to invest heavily on technological equipment to maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction. Companies that fail to invest in technology risk being redundant. This was the case with Posta Kenya that forced it to revamp its operations and invest in technology because they risked going out of business.
The levels of change that customer service operations face are unprecedented. Choice, availability, responsiveness and personalization are all engrained in customer expectations. These expectations have to be met or a company could lose out on its customer base. Businesses have to struggle to meet the expectations and reap from the rewards of a contented customer. These challenges have to be addressed as technology offers more advantages than disadvantages to the customer relation experience.