Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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How has customer experience evolved since the start of the pandemic. What is the role of technology in enabling businesses to adapt to the new normal?

Customer experience has always been a way for companies to differentiate themselves. But COVID-19 has changed the rules of the game. While designing customer experiences for this new world may require fundamentally different approaches, the opportunities to create value by leveraging technology are limitless.

As customers of today continue to self-isolate and prefer digital and contactless engagement channels over physical interactions, companies across sectors have to rethink their strategies of engagement in the line with the new normal.

The shifting trends to self-service models in the current scenario, nevertheless, does not completely eliminate the option of human interactions. Many customers still prefer talking to a real person like a call centre agent, especially when trying to address an issue, in turn increasing the usage of self – service chatbots, portals and communities. These tools allow customers to find answers, and resolve routine issues on their own, while allowing companies to focus their attention and resources on how to deliver better customer experiences.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen companies like Edelweiss, WhiteHat Jr, Startupwala.com etc leverage Salesforce to reimagine their entire workforce strategy almost overnight. In the current scenario, having the right technology to support, enable and engage customers and employees alike is now more crucial than ever.

At Salesforce, customer success is a core value; our customers’ success is our success. As the digital economy continues to evolve, businesses need a 360-degree view of their customers more than ever, equipping them to better manage relationships via one integrated platform. Let’s face it, the world has changed, and we are never going back to the way things were. Salesforce has also developed a Roadmap for Rapid Response and Resiliency – Regardless of where you are in your journey, Salesforce has solutions to help businesses be successful. To support our customers during the pandemic, we quickly pivoted to provide solutions to support our customers such as – Salesforce Care, Work.com, Salesforce Anywhere, Tableau Data Hub and Service Cloud Voice.

How are companies adapting to the shifting trends in customer service and engagement with employees?

The pace at which customer expectations have transformed during the pandemic, is bound to have long-term implications for businesses of all sizes. Improving customer experience has been a key priority for businesses across sectors. It is inspiring to see customers revamp strategies and pivot so quickly to lead through the constant change we are experiencing. People are rallying and coming together to find solutions, and doing it in record time. One thing that is becoming increasingly obvious to customers around the world is that there is a need for speed in the race to digital. Many companies who are not able to quickly pivot will be quickly left behind as this crisis will accelerate changes in consumer behaviour for years to come.

For instance, L&T Realty, the real estate development arm of engineering and construction firm Larsen & Toubro used the lockdown to empower its teams to enhance their CRM knowledge and skills through Salesforce’s learning platform, Trailhead. The real estate industry is highly dependent on physical interactions, site visits, and discussions – all of which were temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 lockdown. Keeping employees engaged was a challenge, and L&T Realty chose to use this time to empower them with new skills. At the time, the company was in the process of implementing Salesforce and the customer experience head decided it was the best time to upskill. Trailhead allows their employees to spend time at home constructively, networking with other CRM practitioners and acquiring a new set of skills in a fun and engaging way.

What does the road ahead look like for businesses and for Salesforce? 

The ongoing pandemic and evolving consumer behavior have given organisations the time to rethink their business strategies, and look for new opportunities to improve the customer experiences with speed and agility as the keys to success. The new normal is calling for new business strategies. Companies that can find a way to pivot and reach customers at every touch point, will be the ones that stand to gain from the current scenario.

Another opportunity is “phygital” – a hybrid of physical and digital strategies. For instance, a well-known kitchen appliance company is currently looking at how it can supply products to customers by connecting to franchise outlets near them through an online commerce platform. The idea is to create compelling customer experiences that flow seamlessly between online and offline channels.  Our next generation of Salesforce Field Service, equips teams across industries with AI-powered tools to deliver trusted, mission-critical field service. Salesforce Field Service includes new appointment scheduling and optimization capabilities, AI-driven guidance for dispatchers, asset performance insights and automated customer communications, all of which help ensure jobs are completed the first time, on time, every time.

We believe technology companies have a profound responsibility to ensure that their core products, services and digital infrastructure are fully equipped to support this shift to virtual working and living, and to deal with the challenges presented by the outbreak. Our top priority remains doing our part to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As the pandemic physically forces people and organisations apart, technology companies have an important opportunity, and responsibility, to actually bring us closer together. We are always focused on customer success and helping bring companies and customers together in new ways. One key example is Work.com, a set of new technology solutions and resources to help business and community leaders around the world reopen safely, re-skill employees and respond efficiently on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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