Written by Sonal Jaiswal | Evangelist, Customer Guru
Of all the unavoidable things in the world, internet leads the pack. It has transformed the lives of people in all aspects. We wake up, not to the sunrise anymore, but to the social media messages and emails. It has clearly become the common thread that connects everyone. It has so much to offer and we never cease to utilize its potential to the fullest! So, with so much information available, is the internet a boon or is it a curse for Customer Experience? Well, it is both.
Just as in all ancient philosophies, so duality is a phenomenon present in internet too. Every field is either being celebrated or taking a blow, thanks to the information floating around on the internet. Evidently, customer experience is no different. Here are a few ways in which the internet is changing the face of customer experience all around the world.
Ease of accessibility for producers and consumers
Right from the advent of the Industrial revolution, mankind’s driving force has been ‘convenience’. And internet’s role in helping that goal has been more than satisfactory. It allows you to be accessible to your customers from across the globe, irrespective of your geographical location. In turn, the customers can buy and review your products because of internet access on their mobile phones.
However, if you are new in the market, the ease of access can sometimes work against your business. For a clearer picture, let us take examples of eBay and Amazon. eBay connects you directly to the customer by merely being a platform and nothing more. Many businesses are discovered and approached as eBay doesn’t buy or sell anything by itself. Amazon, on the other hand, is the major seller though it partially allows direct customer-vendor relationship by acting as a platform. Though many businesses go unheard of in the case of the latter, Amazon offers guarantee for their products leading to a great customer experience for both parties. In the case of the former, there is risk involved from customers’ end as they deal with the companies directly without any guarantee from eBay. This hugely affects the customer experience of such companies in spite of the ease in accessibility.
eBay managed to overcome this disadvantage by introducing a voting system for the companies’ product quality and service. Future customers now have a point of reference before deciding to connect with the businesses.
Similarly, the presence of most of the customers on the social media has prompted companies to follow suit. While on one hand this enables organizations to engage their customers better. On the other, the social media has always kept companies on their toes because customers don’t think twice before using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to post their experiences.
Product reviews by other customers empower prospective buyers to make an informed choices. As there are a lot of good and bad record stored and dug out from the internet, companies feel threatened by this powerful tool and are therefore circumspect, not wanting to lose both existing and potential customers.
Case in point: United Airlines has glorious stories doing the rounds about amazing customer experience but it had to take the blow when a music video about the company mishandling the luggage went viral on the social media.
Such unfortunate incidents get recorded and the company can only hope that not many stumble upon such information. Everyone is susceptible to committing mistakes but what is done cannot be erased, especially in the world of internet! What companies can do to repair the damage is to apologize and ensure that they handle the negative feedback better.
The issue of safety and privacy
Data safety and privacy has been a huge concern, especially in the banking and financial sector. The internet has led to the development of several hassle free payment platforms, improving customer experience manifold. Customers, who can never imagine being in more than one bank at a time, are now getting to virtually attend to more than one transaction simultaneously. But often, customers lose their faith in the company they deal with when they are duped through impersonation. A large number of spam mails dupe the customers of huge sum of money by asking for their account information in the pretext of improving safety and security. Eventually customers abandon the banks and the companies dealing with such banks, leading to a very unpleasant experience.
Banks can keep their customers alert too by notifying them from time to time about such scams through different channels to save their reputation and maintain the a healthy customer experience. Banking is just one such industry that is faced with the safety and privacy issue. The advent of internet has brought forward a whole new paradigm of customer data security and, not to forget, it is closely linked with the customer experience.
There are endless possibilities, both good and bad when it comes to how internet is used. The internet keeps challenging us to come up with elusive ways of keeping the customer experience game going. One can expect more exciting times ahead in this age of Internet!