Everyone of us have heard of phrases like “the customer is king”, or “the customer is always right”. With today’s rapidly evolving technology and product development landscape, it becomes even more important to know our customers better. The relationship with customers translates into an organization’s most valuable asset. How can a firm nurture this customer relationship to build a strong, long-lasting one? Akio Morita, founder of Sony corporation, had coined a term– ‘Glocal— think global and act local. So, let’s take a close look at our local small-town shops to understand how successful customer relationships are built.
In a small-town shop, when a customer goes to look for some product/service which can meet their current requirement, they just explain their product requirement or problem to which they are seeking a solution. They express their need to the shopkeeper. Let’s call this as expression as an utterance. The shopkeeper then comprehends the primary ambition behind the customer’s request. Usually, the shopkeeper knows the regular customers quite well enough .e.g their purchasing power, buying behaviour, and likes and dislikes. In short, the shopkeeper has the complete context of the customer’s request. With this understanding, the shopkeeper is able to deliver the customer’s request successfully. Hence, the strong customer relationship with the shopkeeper continues.
In such small businesses running in our locality, it is more natural and possible to know our customers on a personal basis. But for a large organization, operating at a larger scale on a regional, national, or even multi-national level, it is impossible to know the customers at this personal level. That’s why a lot of customer relationship management (CRM) systems came up to help firms manage their relationships with the customers. These systems consolidate and integrate customer information from multiple communication channels. The more accurate the information was, the better was the customer profiling. Hence it’s essential to capture precise customer information and preferences across this multi-communication channel. Let’s analyze the four factors that we came across in our local neighbourhood shopping and see how can we utilize them in our global customer service.
- Utterance- Customer relationships are based on conversations between brand/business (brand representatives) and customers across multiple channels. These channels can be both online and offline. Online channels can be accessed via mobile or desktop applications. Consistent experience across all the channels is a must for all brands. With the digital age, all big brick and mortar stores such as Walmart, Ikea, and Apollo Pharmacy have made their presence in online space too. Our homegrown brands such as Lenskart and Medplus which started as an online store, now has physical stores too. An omnichannel presence to listen to our customer’s utterance has become a necessity of the current age.
- Post-commercial- At this stage, a customer comes in for post-purchase activities and services. It is essential to make sure that the customer is still valued.
- Transactional- This is the actual commercial stage where a customer is interested in buying the product or the service.
- Evaluative- At this stage, a customer comes with a comparative model where he tries to seek comparative analysis.
- Informational- When a customer is trying to seek more information and is in the discovery phase, the marketing team generally looks into such customers as a potential lead.
- Ambition– Organizations need to actively track all the utterances made by customers across various channels and understand the primary intent of their requests. Noise should be filtered out to understand the actual goal or ambition of their requests. The ambitions can be classified into various categories–
- Context - The more the history(context) the brand/business has about the customer, the better the problem solving/resolution that can be offered. Conventionally, as a result of digitization of such scenarios via CRMs, a lot of the context (history) is captured and can be utilized by a brand representative when conversing/interacting with the customers. Depending on different workflows/cases that have been built into the system, better CRM leads to a better response/resolution as a result of automation. Automated alerts/responses would again help in keeping the customer in a closed loop.
- Delivery: Once an organization has understood the main ambition of the customer and now with the good context (past background) of such a request, the organization should be able to successfully deliver the solution/products or services to the customers. Service quality is a key index to define the success of a business or brand. Customer experience or reaching the customer emotions with the right language becomes the key differentiator for any business.
Let’s look at a recent example in the pharma industry. “ On March 30, 2020, due to COVID-19 shutdowns and job losses in the millions, Haley had seen a 22% increase in call volumes to the diabetes helpline. After a recent ad campaign, call volume jumped by 92% over the last Monday, i.e. March 23, 2020. The 330 incoming calls marked the highest single-day call volume since the program began in September 2018.”
With such a huge volume of calls, basic answers can be delivered by chatbots. These chatbots can handle such huge queries easily and provide 24*7 support and without adding any extra workload to patient service agents.
In the age of WhatsApp and Messenger, chatbots are must for every organization to talk to their customers via text messaging. Many organizations are currently using chatbots for providing customer support, doing surveys, or answering the FAQs.
Pharma companies should now need to look into delivering customized chat responses to the patients while answering their queries. A perfect CRM would also personalize communication with the customers. Automation shouldn’t necessarily imply low empathy or losing customer engagement. To further improve customer engagement and operational efficiency, we need to dive deeper into the world of conversational AI.
We, humans, are prone to error, especially when we are stretched. The more the scale, the more the errors as everyone over exerts. The great thing about machines is that they scale well, without any uncontrolled emotion. And the emotional aspects can be coded/built-in well designed systems, especially with the current advancement in the state of the art conversational AI systems. Some examples of conversational AI are listed below:
- IBM Watson use cases
- Facebook Wit.ai
- Microsoft LUIS
- Amazon Lex
- Google DialogFlow
While talking to the patients, chatbots powered with AI and NLU can provide personalized responses. Even for HCP engagement, chatbot support can answer medical queries on behalf of medical science liaisons. It can even deliver compliant content as designed by the legal team. Based on the CRM data, AI customer support can further provide customized content for healthcare professionals. For medical device industry all the initial demo, query handling, user manuals, and catalog delivery can be easily delivered by the chatbots. The chatbot conversation with customer also produce huge data set to marketing team for designing new marketing campaigns and insightful analysis.
In short, the use of chatbots are here to stay and will help organizations go glocal!