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Technology shouldn’t replace customer interactions, it should enhance them

13 Jun 2022
Amanda Jobbins

Amanda Jobbins

Marketing and Communications Director, Vodafone Business

The demands and priorities of customers have continued to evolve over the last two years. A clear theme to come out on top is the desire for seamless, personalised digital experiences.

With the drastic reduction of in-person interactions during the pandemic, customers are looking to replace this through virtual experiences, with many companies focusing a lot of effort to make this happen.

Another theme which stood out was the weight customers give to sustainability and ethics in their buying decisions. The global movement towards business with purpose has resonated with customers, and 69% of businesses believe their customers want them to have a clear ethical stance on their social and environmental responsibility 1.

These two trends, although very different in nature, can both be tackled through the same means: technology.

Why personalisation?

With 89% of digital businesses investing in personalisation2, why is this now becoming such a significant factor in the customer journey?

Tailoring the end-to-end customer experience to an individual or a business can act as a key differentiating factor. It enables companies to give their customers an experience that no-one else can offer, purely based on the information they have on the characteristics, preferences and needs of that specific customer.

Making the purchasing experience more relevant in this way has a positive impact on customer satisfaction and therefore can help to drive loyalty.

For example, in our own marketing strategy, we’re using AI to personalise what our customers see when they visit our website, ensuring they are directed towards the most relevant information, products and services for their needs.

It’s the same with our monthly newsletters, content is tailored to whatever the readers are most interested in to ensure it provides real value to their business challenges and conversations.

Businesses are also turning to tools like mobile apps, chat bots and Rich Communications Services to get closer to their customers and to fulfil increasing demands around self-service options.

A stance on sustainability

Along with personalisation, our recent Fit for the Future (FFTF) report revealed a clear shift towards more ethical buying decisions, with over two thirds of businesses recognising this amongst their customers.

Although sustainability is a key part of this, only a fifth of businesses say the sustainability agenda is ‘absolutely necessary’ for their organisation to continue to operate and a quarter consider it as an important strategic goal.

However, when looking at FFTF businesses, so those better prepared for future challenges, many of them see sustainability as a much higher priority. In fact, 38% of them state that being sustainable is ‘absolutely necessary’ for their organisation to operate.

As time goes on, having a stance on sustainability, with a tangible action plan is only going to become more of a prerequisite for buying decisions and therefore, acting now, could deliver an advantage over competitors in the long-term.

If you’re wondering what actions ‘fit for the future’ organisations are taking; recycled packaging and products, renewable energy sources and environmentally friendly company travel policies topped the list. Closely followed by actively aiming to limit harmful pollutants and chemicals.

A hybrid world

While it’s evident that the importance of sustainability credentials is only going to keep increasing, a personalised digital experience is not the only way in which customers want to interact with businesses.

Our Fit for the Future report discovered that customers still strongly value in-person experiences and favour a combination of in-person and digital interactions over solely one or the other.

To meet customer demand head on, it’s vital to deliver various channels of communication.

At Vodafone Business, we introduced our virtual Global Customer Experience Centre during the pandemic as a way of  bringing our solutions to more customers, in more cities around the world.

This new offering isn’t about replacing human interaction, it is about complementing it. Our sales team guide each customer through what’s new and relevant to them, acting as an extension of face-to-face meetings.

As we look towards an uncertain future, it’s important organisations continue to adapt and improve these touch points and immersive technologies hold the key.

Read the Fit for the Future Report to learn more about changing customer trends and find out how your business can become fit for the future.

References

1 https://www.vodafone.com/business/fitforthefuture

2 https://www.forrester.com/blogs/transform-your-personalization-strategy-at-forresters-consumer-marking-forum/

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