Customer Relationship Management specialist, LoyaltyPlus, offers its perspective on the challenges and opportunities for service providers.
South Africa has long been considered a market of brand-loyal and brand-conscious consumers. The popularisation of loyalty programmes and digital solutions that automate transactions, implies that the modern tech-savvy consumer is more empowered than ever before.
Not only has technology radically transformed the front-line of trade – sales and retail – it has changed the supply chain, the back-end systems used for ordering, stock management and other critical areas of operation.
These days the consumer is far more equipped to be able to tap into every level of retail operation.
Independent Customer Relationship Management (CRM) specialist, LoyaltyPlus, explains that these consumers have smart devices and connectivity. They are able to link to social media, chat groups and engage websites to be able to communicate their experiences with services, products and companies.
As visioncritical.com attests, digital transformation has ensured that e-commerce and mobile shopping have entered into the mainstream. Consumers and service providers, suppliers and receivers, distributors, resellers and other channel operators are no longer operating in the same environment. Technology from smart devices to wearables to ad blockers, now drives product marketing and selling, it also largely influences consumer response.
“It gives consumers the edge,” says Len Lubbe, CEO of LoyaltyPlus, who adds that today the introduction of data analytics and impact of AI, machine learning and robotics has streamlined processes with full automation and real-time data access, control and manipulation.
“The result is that service providers are able to go that extra mile to attract the consumer, who is now very much ‘spoiled for choice’. In doing so, are service providers erring on the side of caution and actually confusing consumers rather than offering a simple, clear and value-added alternative?”
Lubbe says that according to market research and the findings of several international surveys, the vast majority of respondents believe that the way products and services are marketed is misleading, confusing and frustrating.
“It is interesting to note that consumers were particularly confused about information and their choice of solutions and offerings within mobile technology. It is interesting because we are talking about a high growth industry based on technology, designed to enhance and improve communication and yet people are generally frustrated about the kind of information they are being given,” says Lubbe.
LoyaltyPlus cites a blog posted on askattest.com which outlines the eleven biggest challenges facing brands in 2018, including educating consumers, price increases and customer acquisition.
Lubbe also points to the inclusion of ‘customer loyalty and meeting customer expectations’. “The point that this research makes and that which we understand through experience with leading service providers, is that because consumers have so many options, service providers are forced to spend all their time on innovation and perfecting the final product rollout. The situation is forcing companies to embrace their customers in order to ensure that these customers are at the epicentre of business operations. The customer is now part of the business and no longer looking in from the outside.”
It is difficult to predict exactly what will transpire in the years to come, Lubbe and his team at LoyaltyPlus says that technology will continue to shape consumer behaviour.
With the introduction of more digital channels, creation of more data and the more people that are electronically connected – there is no doubt that digital will empower consumers even more tomorrow. Business better be ready!