Customer retention and acquisition is arguably one of the main challenges businesses face when operating in a saturated market. As more companies compete for customers, delivering on the customer experience becomes imperative for business owners. The experience a customer has with a business ultimately impacts their future buying decisions, preferences and loyalty to the brand.
Whilst customer acquisition is essential for business growth, long-term customer retention and satisfaction can be challenging in a competitive environment. Despite this, as Forbes stated, '... it can cost five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.'. Furthermore, research has shown that improving retention rates by 5% can improve profits anywhere from 25% to 95%. By prioritising the customer experience, businesses can begin to capitalise on the benefits that increased retention rates offer.
How Can Technology Play a Role in Improving the Customer Experience?
When it comes to optimising the customer experience, technology has an important role to play. As new communication channels emerge and new ways for customers to interact become available, effectively managing customer interaction and experience becomes challenging. Many are turning to technology to reduce problem areas within the customer journey.
Customer & Business Insights
Understanding your customers is the first and arguably most important step when offering a better and more tailored experience. In the world of Big Data, there are now hundreds and thousands of IoT devices and technologies capable of recording every bit of data that runs through a business. Capturing this data allows businesses to analyse the information available to gain insight into internal operations and consumer buying habits. A few ways in which business data can be used to gain insights are through:
Transactions can be logged to provide a detailed record of transaction history to identify different sales channels, peak sales periods, popular products, trends within the industry and so on.
Data from customer service cases can be tracked to provide insight into common issues, preferred communication channels, service agent performance, fastest resolutions, customer perspective and much more. Analysing this data allows businesses to optimise their customer service capabilities to provide better service and a better experience.
Automation of Manual Processes
Some processes within a business can be painstaking as they require manual input to complete. Manual processes often increase the probability of human error which can be both costly and detrimental to businesses relying on positive customer feedback. For example, sales ordering may require manual input by an employee who is on the phone to a customer. This presents two issues, firstly, the order itself may take a long time to complete which could frustrate the customer or, alternatively, the order could be miscommunicated to the employee meaning that the order is subsequently incorrect.
Automating such processes eliminates the risk of these issues happening and ensures data accuracy throughout the entire business. Some common processes which can be automated include:
- Demand forecasting
- Inventory management
- Sales order processing
Streamline Supply Chain
Businesses that make or sell physical products will rely on a supply chain for product fulfilment and some companies may even depend on third-party suppliers for materials or resources. Streamlining your supply chain, therefore, is crucial to ensure the final product is completed and despatched on time.
Technology such as ERP software allows businesses to streamline their operations in their supply chain planning by coordinating business activity through automation and synergy. For example, companies within the manufacturing industry can manage:
- Job/production scheduling
- Resource/material allocation
- Material/resource consumption
- Inventory updates
- BOMs & routes
- Delivery scheduling & fulfilment
- Material/resource procurement
When it comes to ensuring customer satisfaction, the margin for error is small. With so many areas in which things can go wrong – from late or incorrect deliveries to poor customer service – minimising potential issues can go a long way in providing long-term customer retention and improved brand reputation. ERP technology ensures manufacturers have complete visibility throughout their supply chains to ensure customer expectations are met and their needs fulfilled.