Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Using the Internet to improve customer satisfaction

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2020 | 12:09 AM

“So we’ll start shooting on Wednesday. Look forward to seeing you as early as 5 a.m. Bye,’’ quipped Dayna Wallace, with a chuckle, as she clicks ‘Leave room’ on the window to Whereby (formerly appear.in) on her computer, ending the video call.

Whereby is a web real-time communication (WebRTC) technology that requires no downloads or installations. It is browser-based and allows peer-to-peer communication between browsers, providing a seamless experience for users.

That customer call is a standard part of the process for Wallace, who runs a film production company in Kingston. She has been using this video call service for a few years. Hence, her clients and colleagues find it very handy to discuss their storyboards, scripts, and other relevant pre- and post-production elements of the projects they are working on. The service only requires the client to have Internet access, and click a link at the time of a call.

“The beauty of this service is that it only requires Internet access,” Wallace informed.

“That means clients and other colleagues, whom I collaborate with, can connect with me from anywhere and anytime they have Internet access. On my part, I can share my screen, and then, we can brainstorm ideas and make changes to videos we are working on. It’s one of those ‘best-of-the-Internet things’ which allow entrepreneurs such as me to use, and it helps to keep the quality of our service high,” Wallace asserted.

“Customers can live-chat, which is available on our website, and, depending on the degree of the support needed, there’s the possibility of co-browsing,” explained software engineer Khary Sharpe, as he outlined the manner in which he uses the Internet to boost customer satisfaction for his Jamaican and regional clients.

“Co-browsing is a great visual engagement tool. Because it’s real time, it is perfect for putting customers at ease, whenever they are trying to complete online tasks, as it responds at the point of their need,” Sharpe said.

“For example, let’s say a customer who is trying to complete sign-up of a service experiences any kind of browser or other difficulty. The customer could make contact, and with the co-browsing option, we can see what they are seeing. Consequently, we can offer assistance to that customer and assist them to get what they need done. There is no need for them to download any forms or plug-ins,” he details.

The use of the Internet to deliver services to customers has, over time, become a feature of modern business. As the Internet becomes as normal as electricity, customer expectations will not only place substantial demand on companies to wow them and exceed their demands, it will shape it.

One outstanding feature of today’s customer is their desire for self-serve. This desire is bolstered by customers’ need to have what they want, when they want it. No delays. As such, companies that use their website to provide self-service options are ahead of the game.

Self-service options are cost-efficient

Self-service options, such as FAQs for customer queries, are a cost-efficient way of ensuring that customers have useful information without having to wait for an agent or other representative in your organisation when they encounter a problem.

In fact, as far back as 2013, self-service economy watcher Steven Van Bellenghem conducted a worldwide survey, which concluded that 70 per cent of the more than 2,700 respondents expected companies to have self-service websites.

Further discussions on the topic, from European CRM provider, SuperOffice, revealed that more than 40 per cent of customers preferred to jump online and have a problem solved than to call up a company and speak with a representative.

Therefore, in this era of communication, dominated by activities via social media, many companies provide customer support through media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They are applications that require “sign-up” in order to use them. However, at least one study from Dimension Data indicated that 73 per cent of customers surveyed prefer to use a company’s website, instead of using social media, SMS, and other channels for support.

PERSONALISED EXPERIENCE

Self-service is one thing, the personalised experience is quite another. And that is where Internet access, as a service, is a key difference maker for those brick-and-mortar establishments that field much foot traffic daily. Free Wi-Fi at an establishment can pull people in and increase the popularity of such an entity - the net effect of which are increased sales. Many restaurants and food stop owners seeking to hook their customer base have tapped the possibility of free Internet access, as one way to deliver an extraordinary experience.

However, some establishments have tied a purchase to their Wi-Fi access, putting the focus on their needs, rather than that of the customers’.

But, as ICT research leader Forrester warns, “Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors who lag in customer experience.”

Some commercial banks offer customers free Internet access while they wait in the halls for service. Such entities have created for themselves opportunities to build deeper connections with their customers, by curating and personalising the portal which the customer uses to access the Internet.

That is one way such brands can offer customers special-interest products; recommendations for products or services they might desire; news and other information that matter to their lives. In this ‘always-on hyperconnected world’, even with having to attend to an important appointment at the bank, customers do not want to be cut off from all the things that are happening in their lives. These brands understand how valuable free Wi-Fi is to the delivery of customer satisfaction and, therefore, they offer it.

E-commerce

Of all the ways the Internet can boost customer satisfaction, none is as compelling as the ability to shop. E-commerce has made big business and big profits for major brands, such as Amazon and Apple, as well as Alibaba from China and Jumia in Nigeria. In Jamaica, early leaders such as Mailpac and the 2019-launched Q-Mall from the IT company, Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS), are among the positive signs of the prospective boon to the Jamaican economy, as the nation confidently moves towards a digital economy.

Such signs are bolstered by a January 5, 2020 Gleaner story that cited the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) reporting that the increased use of electronic payments resulted in a lower-than-expected demand for currency from the spending public last Christmas.

The report further affirmed that “annual average growth in the use of electronic payments was about 24 per cent for December, for the past five years (2014-2018), which is higher than the average growth in currency of about 14 per cent”.

The BOJ’s expectation is that this will continue as the use of electronic payments is a very good way to get more “unbanked Jamaicans to be part of the financial system”.

Jamaicans are shopping online and will continue to do so. Businesses such as Mailpac and Q-Mall and others like them, which are seeking to capitalise, have sought to ensure that their sites are user-intuitive and simple to use so that customers will not only want to use them, but integrate them in their lives, as some of them now do with Amazon.

Today, it is almost unimaginable to think about running a business without the Internet. For some businesses, its use is more obvious than others. Still, businesses such as Wallace’s, which is focused on experiences that maximise customer satisfaction, should seek to capitalise on the benefits and offerings of the Internet.

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