When is the right time for a customer experience (CX) transformation? Now, many would argue.
The past year and its global COVID-19 pandemic have brought disruption to life and commerce not just for individuals, but for the businesses they buy from. We're seeing a sweeping movement toward digital and omnichannel services as people rethink the way they shop for groceries, clothing, household essentials and even services—some are calling our current disposition the new “homebody economy."
This spells trouble for customer loyalty. According to McKinsey, 76 percent of U.S. consumers changed stores, brands, or the way they shopped in 2020. Even pandemic aside, retaining customers has always been difficult. The companies that succeed with loyalty and growth are the ones that adapt to their customers' needs against an ever-changing economic backdrop. For example, in the 2008 recession, leading CX companies saw shareholder returns three times highger than CX laggards (McKinsey). What better time than now to reexamine the way your company is attracting, selling to and serving customers.
In this article, look at the current gaps between customer expectation and business reality. We'll also focus on the critical role WhatsApp messaging can play, with a specific focus on one of the world's leading enterprise solutions—Microsoft Dynamics 365.
The modernized CX—what does it look like?
Before you plan any changes to your current customer experience, it's important to establish a shared understanding among the C-suite of what your customers are looking for—not just in products and services you're selling but also the level of experiences they are expecting when interacting with your brand.
Many companies overlook the experience part, mistakenly creating a huge gap between what the customers expect versus what they end up getting from the company.
In general, modern consumers are fickle and impatient. They expect brands to provide a shopping experience that's not just easy, but seamless and ubiquitous (according to BigCommerce, 43 percent of online shoppers admit to making purchases while in bed, 23 percent at work, and 20 percent from the bathroom or while commuting). They are well-informed and not swayed by minor price differentials, thanks to endless availability of online comparisons. Ninety percent of them would rather message a business than pick up the phone (Dimension Data). And perhaps most importantly, they are highly sensitive to mistreatment—on average, consumers tell 15 other people when they have a bad experience with a business (American Express).
To delight the modern consumer and maintain your competitive edge in a crowded market, you'll need an airtight approach to these three CX pillars:
1. Connected Data
Since personalization is the name of the game, you need to use the data you hold and access. Whether you're relying solely on your own data, accessing third-party data or both, the key is to make sure they are all connected to provide the right context during a customer interaction.
In addition to customer data from CRMs, ERP systems play a key role when it comes to providing connected experiences. To provide the level of immediacy today's consumers demand, data about billing, product availability, planning and fulfillment needs to be at-the-ready. As part of the Dynamics 365 offerings, Microsoft provides CRM and ERP solutions that support enterprise-wide access with availability and security across geographies. Furthermore, Microsoft Power Platform's Common Data Model makes it straightforward for enterprises and ISVs to develop custom solutions based on the database schemas. Through this capability, you're able to segment customers, identify their needs and deliver relevant suggestions that drive further sales, as well as provide personalized care. These data flows should be bidirectional, meaning the data from the interactions (chat messages from the customer, etc.) should be added to the CRM for further analysis and actions.
2. Connected Processes
Making customer-facing processes more immediate and personalized takes orchestrated workflows and process automation. Unlike digitally native companies, many established enterprises have high barriers to overcome to streamline their back-end and front-end operations. This is where a new approach can be a game changer—by starting from the customer endpoint (messaging interface in the modern context), the process can be optimized for specific impact. For example, if a customer wants to see whether an item is in stock at a particular location, they could send a message that triggers a query to the business' inventory system and returns a result. Customers could check on the status of an order by sending a WhatsApp message that interrogates a fulfillment tool. The possibilities are only limited to the data you hold, and your imagination.
Speaking of possibilities, once your customers start interacting with you over chat apps, know that they'll use whichever content types they're accustomed to using with their friends. So, if your existing automation process can't handle rich media (say pictures, voice memo, etc.), you'll need to augment the process to keep up.
3. Mobile messaging
Finally, we've arrived at the touchpoint where the experience will come alive: mobile messaging. While platforms differ slightly from service to service, they tend to share common advantages that make them ideal for delivering a modern chat-based customer experience: they offer rich messaging, with the ability to present visual elements that make interactions appear engaging and delightful. Furthermore, messaging apps are where today's consumers are already hanging out. In order to satisfy the immediacy the consumers are demanding you have to meet them there. The ability to deploy automation fast and easy is another overlooked opportunity when adding messaging channels to omnichannel communications. With built-in capabilities such as interactive buttons, WhatsApp's intuitive UX is fast becoming an optimal channel to deliver automation with or without chatbots—while keeping the interaction style one-to-one, easy and fast.
Why Add WhatsApp?
As the world's number one consumer messaging app with over 2 billion users, WhatsApp can speed up your CX transformation. Beyond the obvious ability to connect with more customers through instant messaging (without requiring them to download a separate app, mind you), Dynamics 365 + WhatsApp integration gives you the abilities to connect all your customer data and processes to enrich the experiences with personalization and automation across the entire customer journey.
According to Gartner, 70 percent of all customer interactions are expected to involve technologies like chatbots, machine learning, and mobile messaging by 2022. That's no surprise, considering the benefits mobile messaging brings on both sides:
- The customer has a faster, easier way to interact with the business throughout the entire journey from sales to service that's more personalized for them.
- The business is able to engage with customers more efficiently and in a more relevant context that enables them to sell more, sell faster, and improve loyalty.
Leveraged fully, WhatsApp integration can also be a boon to customer loyalty and retention, enabling proactive outreach to at-risk customers based on data signals from Microsoft Dataverse, and incidents and triggers in Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.
When to trigger WhatsApp across the customer lifecycle
As with most CX improvements, success with mobile messaging comes not from using it as an isolated fix, but from an end-to-end implementation that addresses the customer journey holistically.
Customer engagement starts when the conversation does, which can happen a number of different ways. The customer might scan a QR code in your physical retail location or on your website. They might click a messaging icon (e.g. WhatsApp's click-to-chat button). They might add your business number to their contact list.
Your interactions in these moments depend on the scope of your existing relationship. For new customers, there's an opportunity to onboard them using chat—a way that may feel more intuitive to digital natives than filling out a web form. You can access information from your knowledge base, providing details on loyalty programs, shipping times, opening hours, and much more. For existing customers, there's an opportunity to delight them with contextualized recommendations informed by connected data from CRM, BI, ERP systems as well as relevant third-party data and content.
So much can go wrong during the transaction process—80 percent of shoppers will even abandon their purchase due to a bad experience (Forrester Research). That's why it's so important to make your business as present and available as possible when customers make their decision. Thanks to the conversational nature of how WhatsApp works, even conventional transactional notifications can benefit from two-way interactions.
WhatsApp Business API's support for automation and chatbots is also helping businesses to expand the use cases for messaging-based transactions. Insurers, for example, could capture the essential information behind a claim using a structured, scalable workflow, thereby removing the need for a human agent to handle simple, repetitive tasks and enabling them to focus on complex issues.
To create a memorable experience that brings customers back, keep engaging after they've made a purchase. Now is the time for highly targeted, highly personalized communications based on the data signals your platforms have gathered throughout the transaction.
This is especially important for subscription-based retailers during a time when consumers are reexamining what commodities are “essential." You can leverage predictions from Dynamics 365's AI capabilities to send proactive messages to high churn-risk customers, hopefully solving whatever issue has jeopardized their interest, or connecting them with a live agent for quality customer care.
You can also provide WhatsApp service through an IVR off-ramp as an alternative to waiting on hold—this works better for customers who are multitasking while working from home, lack the patience for a complicated IVR system or simply prefer to get help digitally. WhatsApp allows you to exchange documents, images, videos, maps and even stickers in the same conversation, rather than voice-only. Letting your customers get help the way they prefer will save time and pay dividends in the long run.
Making your first forays into mobile messaging through Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 is a lot easier than you might think, thanks to tyntec's prebuilt integrations. To get started, simply open Power Automate and create a new flow with an event trigger—for example, you could trigger a flow when repeat customers abandon their shopping carts after a web session. Select the tyntec WhatsApp Business connector. At this point, all you need to do is trigger an incident from the Dynamics environment.
To get started using WhatsApp Business with Dynamics 365, check out our setup guide.