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08: Business Rediscovers Value of Getting Personal

News Release


2008: Business Rediscovers the Value of Getting Personal

Improve the customer experience if you want to keep and grow business in 2008
- Customer satisfaction doesn’t equal customer loyalty
- Customers want to be rewarded for the size and length of their business
- Customers want a consistent experience across all channels

2008 will see a shift by many businesses to re-establish personal relationships with their customers in order to overcome the low customer loyalty which is characteristic of commoditisation, predicts leading information services company Unisys.

Continued efforts to reduce costs and increase productivity by streamlining and automating customer processes through phone, email, internet, self service kiosks and ATMs have produced initial savings benefits for many organisations, and provided the consumer with greater convenience. However these efforts often did so at the expense of a strong and valued relationship with the customer, commoditising many service offerings and eroding customer loyalty. This combination makes it easier for the competition to tempt customers away.

“By 2008 many businesses will have gone as far as they can with cost cutting and efficiency strategies. They are now at the point where they need to protect and grow their marketshare. To do this they need their best customers to stay and recommend their business to friends, family and colleagues. Smart businesses have recognised that providing the best customer experience is the key to building emotional engagement – loyalty – with the customer,” said Brett Hodgson, Managing Director, Unisys New Zealand.

Satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal customers. If they feel they can get the same service or product just as easily from someone else there is nothing to make them stay with you. For example, a Unisys study of New Zealand banking customers1 found that while 72 percent of customers said they were satisfied with their banks, only 21 percent said they felt loyal.

The same study also found that customers want to be rewarded for the size and length of their business, prefer a customised experience that matches their specific needs and want a consistent customer experience regardless of what channel (including face to face, internet and phone) they use.


How will businesses become customer centric?

“While we are seeing phone companies and insurance agencies offer special deals for when you buy more than one product, building customer loyalty requires more than simply providing a volume discount – you need to really understand your customer,” Mr Hodgson explained.

“A number of businesses have already successfully reinvented themselves around the customer. McDonald’s introduced a healthy food menu and café-style coffee to attract mothers with children. BNZ and Westpac recently announced that customers would not be left out of pocket if they were innocent victims of online fraud. Auckland International Airport has self-service check-in kiosks to provide passengers with a faster check-in process. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is trialling the use of facial biometric technology in passports to speed up the time it takes to go through the airport arrival process. I predict we will see this trend increase in 2008.”

As businesses become customer centric they typically structure their lines of business around customer segments, rather than product sets or geography. This enables them to better understand the specific needs of targeted groups of customers and focus innovation on improving their customer experience, rather than just coming up with a new product and looking for a place to sell it. This may include ways to ensure VIP customers always receive preferred treatment, no matter what branch they enter, or finding ways to reduce the frustration of standing in queues or providing expert information quickly – while the customer is most interested. Such solutions might include:


Preferred customer identification for VIP treatment – select customers could opt to carry a Preferred Customer RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) card which automatically alerts staff to their presence. These high value customers can then be given preferred treatment, rewarding them for the length or size of their business. The experience would be similar to a restaurant warmly welcoming and looking after a loyal customer.


Untethered concierge, staff come to you – roaming staff could use wireless tablet PCs to proactively engage customers entering the branch. This may allow certain transactions to be culled out of the queue for immediate action, reducing queue time. This approach could be combined with the Preferred Customer RFID. This might apply to airport check-ins.


Expert advice via video conference – any one of a network of branches could offer customers access to expert on-the-spot advice via desktop or boardroom video conference facilities to meet the customer’s need while they are interested, rather than arrange a return visit around the availability of the expert. For example, a bank could use this to improve the experience of home loan applicants seeking mortgage advice.

1Customer Centricity in the New Zealand Retail Banking market: Rewards and Sacrifices (2007)


ENDS


About Unisys Asia Pacific
Unisys offers clients solutions for secure business operations by aligning technology with business strategy. Drawing on a history of industry innovation and expertise, Unisys provides specialised services, delivered by trusted consultants. In Asia Pacific, Unisys delivers services and solutions through subsidiaries in New Zealand, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand and through distributors or resellers in other countries in the region. For more information, visit www.unisys.com.

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