As industries grapple with the COVID-19 crisis, businesses are identifying new customer pain points and accordingly coming up with innovative ways to meet customer expectations. While the future remains uncertain, experts believe digital frontrunners, capitalizing on customer experience (CX) will race ahead. In a recent exclusive chat with CXOToday, K.T Prasad, Managing Director and Regional Vice President, India Subcontinent, Zendesk, offers insights on how the pandemic has affected businesses and in that context how brands should rethink customer experience in a post-COVID-19 world.
CXOToday: How have customer needs and expectations changed as a result of the pandemic?
K.T Prasad: COVID-19 has transformed the way businesses and customers interact. Customer expectations have been fluctuating and evolving in response to the Pandemic. This has resulted in greater pressure on support teams across sectors. Our Benchmark Snapshot Report has shown that customers have turned to channels beyond traditional phone and email support in the hopes of finding quick answers. Since the last week of February, people are flocking to more immediate channels such as WhatsApp, chat, and text to resolve their issues. WhatsApp usage has jumped 101%, followed by live chat at 34%, and texting at 30%. Customers are also increasingly willing to find the answers themselves. Visits to online help centers rose 65% during the same time period. We have observed that the use of these resources has actually outpaced the growth in ticket volumes for most sectors, presenting very real opportunities for companies to resolve customer questions before they become tickets. Even as we move toward ‘Unlocking’ and entering a New Normal, it remains to be seen whether these changes were merely a response to the pressures created by the global crisis, or a sea change for customer support. However, one thing is clear; businesses need to be able to meet customers where they are, when they need them.
CXOToday: What is in store for the Enterprise software market post-COVID-19?
K.T Prasad: According to our latest Benchmark Snapshot Research, Enterprises are seeing sharp fluctuations and volatility in ticket volumes ever since the onset of COVID-19. It is also well known that a crisis can breed innovation, since it creates pressure on companies to think outside the box and to see the world differently. In India especially, we are seeing how companies are increasingly shifting from traditional ways of doing business to more modern, digital platforms and processes. This however requires creativity and a willingness to be open to change. The enterprise software market, like all other sectors, needs to focus on building and incorporating agility and flexibility into their DNA to cope with the times.
CXOToday: What can brands do to keep up with changing customer needs and expectations?
K.T Prasad: The pandemic has affected global markets considerably. Life as we knew it, including the way we live, work and interact with each other and businesses, is being redefined. The pandemic has proven how important it is to be human-centric. Our experience has also emphasized the importance of listening to our customers. Customers want empathy from brands as their needs and wants evolve from what they were prior to the pandemic.
Similarly, brands need solutions that are easy to implement, scale and roll-out to a remote workforce, in order to adapt to the changing business landscape. Even though our products are built to facilitate self-service, we have found that it works wonders to personify self-service as it is preferred today by most customers. Sending an email, keeping in touch, and making sure that things are conversational during the trial phase are very important. Such basics are proving to be even more crucial now during these trying times.
CXOToday: Where do you see data and analytics playing a role in providing better CX during such times?
K.T Prasad: There is no ‘perfect post-coronavirus management strategy’. However, a successful one will rely on data and insights and be rooted in empathy with a focus on customers and time to value. Humanizing customer insights with data and qualitative feedback, while putting a face to customers, is vital in achieving that. As we review 2020 in a new context, we are prioritizing the things that have the highest degree of customer impact along with tools that are easy to use and have the capability to deliver a fast time to value. The pandemic has proven the need for organizational agility, flexibility, and scalability to underpin everything we do as a business. This is what will enable continued growth and success in ‘the new normal’.
CXOToday: How does your recent offering Zendesk Explore help brands deliver better CX?
K.T Prasad: Zendesk Explore provides analytics for businesses to measure and improve CX. It is a comprehensive customer analytics toolkit that helps businesses measure and optimizes every interaction a customer has with them and seamlessly integrates with every Zendesk channel, so that the customer support team always has the data to make better decisions. It is especially crucial in the current scenario that CX should be data driven. Explore also gives brands instant access to customer analytics, so they can measure how customers interact with them without losing the conversation thread. Using these insights, brands can analyze team performance, take stock of operational metrics, or get a better understanding of their customer experience. Explore is also a key part of our Remote Support Bundle, which is a set of free software and resources designed to help distributed teams stay connected while providing their customers with the help they need. We started offering the Remote Software Bundle to both new and existing customers in March, with no ongoing commitment for free for a period of six months through September.