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Five tips for customer service success

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It costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one happy, so it makes sense for organisations to keep there customer services department running smoothy. JIM FREEZE of Aspect Software provides five tips for customer service success.

Most of us will have been at the receiving end of bad customer service, and it is normally something that you do not forget too quickly. However, it may not purely be the contact centre’s fault; according to research we did earlier this year, our expectations of the quality of customer service (everything from speed to going above and beyond the call of duty) have risen in the past three years, and this trend is likely to continue.

Offering customers a positive experience can prove pivotal to an organisation’s reputation, yet today many companies are still more focused on finding more customers than they are in keeping their current ones happy. This is a flawed process; the fact of the matter is that this is a well-known adage even among the layman – it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than keep a current one. This makes it even more imperative that the experience you offer your customers is as good as it can possibly be. So to help you achieve this, here are some important issues that all business leaders, large and small, need to know in order to plan for a tiptop customer experience.

1. Bad customer service is something you never forget

Thanks to people being so interconnected today, consumers have the capability to make or break a brand through sharing their experiences to a huge audience via social media. The Aspect survey found that 55 per cent of consumers stopped doing business with at least one company during the past year because of a poor customer experience.

The danger with negative customer service being vented through social media is that everyone has access to it – even the mainstream media, and if they pick up on poor service, it could be disastrous for your brand. However, offering good customer service through this channel can have the reverse effect, creating a positive brand perception that is shared the world over.

2. It’s not just customers who can benefit

Good customer service works both ways; it benefits the customer and in turn, benefits your business. Customers feel very strongly about the service they receive and stated in our study that they would pay more money to a business if it ensured they received a positive experience. We also found that more than three quarters (76 per cent) of consumers think that customer service is a “true test” of how much a company values its customers.

For years customer service departments have been considered a hindrance to a company’s budget and not as a necessity to invest in to help expansion. It is important to have customers who are happy, so that they remain customers (and for longer), and you are able to grow as a business.

3. Always add a personal touch

Customers don’t want to be told how they must interact with your company; they want to be able to contact you in a method of their choosing. We live in a digital age where consumers simply do not want to have to chat to a business over the phone, they want to be able to use social media, text, or the internet to engage with you, and businesses need to provide these solutions.

Personalisation provides an opportunity for businesses to build customer loyalty, customers will inherently be more satisfied if they don’t have to put in a lot of leg work to get their questions answered, and allowing them to control how they contact you will do this.

4. Customer interactions benefits your business as well

It is important to remember that offering customers a personalised experience also has its benefits for your organisation. By harvesting and analysing customer data – such as a purchase history, their habits when they visit your website online, or what kind of marketing communication they respond to – your contact centre and marketing departments have the capability to gain critical information on what your customers want, and what attracts them to your company. This provides an opportunity for you to use this data and understand how best to promote your brand.

5. The customer journey is an information goldmine

Marketing teams are missing out on a huge opportunity if they do not use customer service as a platform for future campaigns. If you follow your customers’ experiences across all touch points, you’ll be amazed at the wealth of information you’ll acquire.

Understanding consumers’ journeys can give insight into how their experience affects their loyalty to you and their future business with you. So, pick up the phone and call, tweet or text your customer service professionals. You’ll be surprised what you learn.

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ME and Africa Consumer tech spending to hit $149bn

Reaching $130bn this year, consumer spending on technology in the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow just 4% a year.

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Consumer spending on technology in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) is forecast to total $130.8 billion this year, a year-on-year increase of 4.1%. According to the latest Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide from International Data Corporation (IDC), consumer purchases of traditional and emerging technologies will remain strong over the 2019–2023 forecast period, increasing at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5% to reach $149.4 billion in 2023.

86.3% of all consumer technology spending in 2019 will be on traditional technologies such as mobile phones, personal computing devices, and mobile telecom services. Mobile telecom services (voice and data) will account for 68.7% of this amount, followed by mobile phones which will account for 26.6%. Spending growth for traditional technologies will be relatively slow, with a CAGR of 2.4% for the 2019–2023 forecast period.

“Faster connectivity, combined with declining data service costs from telecom service providers and the need for end users to use telecom services for an increasing number of devices, will ensure that consumer spending on traditional technologies will continue to grow,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

Emerging technologies, including AR/VR headsets, drones, on-demand services, robotic systems, smart home devices, and wearables, will deliver strong growth with a five-year CAGR of 10.2%. This growth will see emerging technologies account for 17.1% of overall consumer spending in 2023, up from 13.7% in 2019. Smart home devices and on-demand services will account for around 93% of consumer spending on emerging technologies by the end of the forecast period.

“The low penetration of smart home devices in the region, combined with growing efforts from market players to educate home users on the benefits and usage of these devices, will serve as an engine of growth for consumer spending on emerging technologies,” says Charakla. “A large portion of end users are already looking to invest in devices that will improve their productivity and quality of life, two key demands that smart home devices can be positioned to fulfil.”

On-demand services represent a new addition to IDC’s Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide. “On-demand services enable access to networks, marketplaces, content, and other resources in the form of subscription-based services and includes platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify, among others,” says Charakla. “As connected consumers juggle multiple services across their devices, it is essential for technology providers to understand how the adoption of these various technologies and services will impact their customers’ experiences in the future.”

Communication and entertainment will be the two largest use case categories for consumer technology, representing more than 79% of all spending throughout the forecast. More than 70% of all communication spending will go toward traditional voice and messaging services in 2019. Entertainment spending will be dominated by watching or downloading TV, videos and movies, as well as listening to music and downloading and playing online games. The use cases that will see the fastest spending growth over the forecast period are augmented reality games (49.5% CAGR).

The Worldwide Semiannual Connected Consumer Spending Guide quantifies consumer spending for 22 technologies in ten categories across nine geographic regions. The guide also provides spending details for 23 consumer use cases. Unlike any other research in the industry, the Connected Consumer Spending Guide was designed to help business and IT decision makers to better understand the scope and direction of consumer investments in technology over the next five years.

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Could robots replace human tennis players?

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While steeped in tradition, tennis has embraced technology on multiple fronts: coaching, umpiring and fan experiences. Since the early 2000s, the Sony-owned Hawk-Eye system has been assisting tennis umpires in making close calls. At Wimbledon, IBM’s Watson AI analyses fan and player reactions in real-time video footage from matches to create highlight reels just minutes after the end of a match.

Meanwhile, at the ATP Finals in London, similar data analysis is being carried out by digital services and consulting firm Infosys.

GlobalData’s Verdict deputy editor Rob Scammell hears the future of tennis discussed at a recent panel discussion about the use of data analytics and technology in the game.

Scammel writes: “Infosys has been partnered with ATP for five years, providing features such as its cloud-based platform, which leverages artificial intelligence to analyse millions of data points to gain insights into the game.

“Players and coaches can also make use of the Infosys’ Players and Coaches Portal, allowing them to “slice and dice” matches on an iPad with 1,000 data analytics combinations. This is data crunching is vital according to Craig O’Shannessy, strategy analyst for the ATP World Tour and a coach for 20 years – including for the likes of Novak Djokovic. 

O’Shannessy says: “Video and data analytics is crucial for giving players an edge. It’s about finding out of 100 points, the 10 or 15 that matter the most, and explaining that these are the patterns of play that you want to repeat in these upcoming games to win those matches.”

However, although Chris Brauer, director of innovation at the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, asked whether the “inevitable conclusion” of technological innovations in tennis was removing humans from the game entirely. ATP chair umpire and manager Ali Nili suggested that while there could one day be robot players adjudicated by robot umpires, it would be an entirely different sport.

Nili told GlobalData: “At ATP, we’re most proud of our athletes. It’s our athletes which make the tennis exciting. It’s how fast they are, how strong they are being. As humanbeings, we compare them to us and we’re fascinated by the things that they’re able to do. They’re the number one attraction for anyone who comes in, watches tennis, and everything else is secondary, you know, all the data and everything else, because we try to make our athletes more appealing.”

Could robots replace human tennis players?

Raghavan Subramanian, associate vice president and head of Infosys Tennis Platform, says it’s a “very philosophical question” and that we can look to the precedent set by other ‘man vs machine’ face-offs.

“In chess, we had [Garry] Kasparov play against the computer. So I think the natural first transition will not be two robots playing against each other, but one robot, possibly playing against the best player today. That’s the first possible bridge before two robots play.”

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