A challenging year ahead for UK brands, customer experience will be key
Graham Stein, managing director of Parseq’s Contact Centre division, looks at some of the challenges facing brands in 2018 and how exceptional customer experience can help address them.
2018 is shaping up to be another tough year for brands. A shifting political, technological and regulatory landscape is challenging UK businesses in every sector to re-evaluate their strategies, all while developing and growing market share in an increasingly competitive climate.
In this environment, the delivery of exceptional customer experience has become an even more critical consideration. Doing this effectively requires reflection and investment, but for brands that get it right, there is a significant opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition and navigate the broader headwinds set to dominate the year ahead.
Here are three major challenges facing UK brands in the months to come, and some of the ways effective customer experience can help meet them head on:
The pace of technology
The latest innovations, such as automation, smart tech and virtual reality, are developing at an unprecedented rate, giving businesses operating in every sector the chance to deliver next generation service to their customers. In 2018, this shows no signs of slowing. However, with new possibilities comes new expectations, and UK consumers are expecting ever more from the brands they buy from.
The pace of technology is driving a demand for around-the-clock, highly personalised service, delivered across multiple channels and multiple platforms. It’s critical for brands to recognise this, carefully examine the evolving preferences of their customers and pursue new approaches to meet them.
The complexity and up-front cost of many advanced systems, however,could pose problems for businesses trying to keep up. Engaging the support of an experienced customer experience partner is one way businesses can stay abreast of innovation. They offer the infrastructure, highly trained staff, and integrated systems necessary to deliver the experience tomorrow’s customers will come to expect.
An uneven political and economic landscape
Economic and political uncertainty will continue to impact consumer confidence in 2018. Market research institute GfK, recently discovered that UK consumer confidence hit its lowest level since 2013 in December of last year. In this climate, consumers will increasingly study a company’s customer service credentials when choosing where to spend.
Businesses must ensure their customer experience strategies reflect this. This could involve targeting a more specific demographic, prioritising certain contact channels, or revaluating when upselling is appropriate. Personalisation is also key. In a market where consumers are cautious, memorable interactions that treat consumers as individuals will always drive loyalty.
Regulatory headwinds are set to challenge UK companies. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, will become law on the 25th of May,and will place strict demands on how businesses handle their customers’ data. Data generated through customer experience interactions fall squarely within GDPR’s scope, and the cost of compliance to businesses caught unprepared is significant.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, brands need to undertake a comprehensive audit of their business processes and IT systems, which can be a resource demanding task. If a brand doesn’t have a significant compliance function, the support of a customer experience partner with the expertise and capacity to handle data with the consent and privacy required could prove invaluable. This option can also help businesses shoulder the significant investment in system updates and training that full compliance could entail.
2018’s challenges are significant, but they are not insurmountable. Businesses will need to be agile and willing to adapt their approach. What’s clear is the delivery of exceptional, memorable experiences should form a central part of any brand’s strategy. This way the needs of a business’ most valuable assets – it’s customers – are top of the agenda.
Graham Stein is Managing Director of Parseq’s Contact Centre division
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