Customer relationship management entering the next generation

Zendesk's Omni-channel
Zendesk's Omni-channel

Zendesk, a US-based customer support platform, is stepping up its marketing offensive in Thailand and other Asia Pacific markets, to deliver the best omni-channel customer experiences.

According to Sandie Overtveld, vice president/sales in Asia Pacific, ever-rising customer expectations due to vast improvement in personal and social communication technology have prompted a new paradigm shift in CRM (customer relationship management).

Previously, CRM was mainly about managing an organisation’s sales and marketing teams rather than engaging with customers. However, today’s smart businesses have to adopt a different approach by focusing on the “outside-in” factor or better customer engagement.

In other words, sales and customer support teams must be linked automatically and seamlessly to deliver better customer experiences via multiple communication channels, from messaging apps and social media to call centers and emails.

Based on the Zendesk customer experience report 2019, today’s customers on average use five communication channels socially and two channels when communicating with brands. In other words, customers want to communicate with brands the same ways they communicate with friends and families.

In addition, they often compare their experience with brands, citing the best experience they have had, regardless of differences in product or service categories.

As a result, it’s a big challenge for businesses trying to satisfy and retain their customers in today’s consumer-driven markets.

For example, customers do not want to repeat themselves while waiting for resolutions to their issues so it is necessary to have a complete history of customer-agent conversations flowing seamlessly across multiple channels used by customer support teams, so that they have a clear view of the specific customer.

Line, Facebook, Tweeter, Instagram are among the popular social platforms in Thailand with Line, for example, having more than 33 million active users. Thus, a business’s interaction with customers via messaging apps is now a crucial component of the new-generation CRM, especially in view of the growing popularity of super-apps such as Grab.

Besides Grab, other potential super-apps include Get and others which are aiming to be destination apps for hailing taxis, food delivery, payment, financial and other services.

Based on the Zendesk customer support solution, it is necessary to handle lots of customer and business agent messages automatically using both bots and humans with interaction at the right time and in a natural way.

According to research, phone calls have the lowest customer satisfaction level, but they are still necessary, while customers are most satisfied with chats and instant messaging services and in many cases prefer self-service features.

For example, Grab which operates in seven Asian markets including Thailand, uses the Zendesk platform to manage its omni-channel communications with customers, especially with regard to their questions and complaints, such as when customers query on a longer-than-necessary route, some car or driver problems, or when something is left behing in the vehicle by a customer.

Besides Grab, Sandie said the logistic industry is another key market for the customer support platform as the business is booming along with the rise of e-commerce sites, thus needing more efficient warehousing and delivery services, especially on the last-mile delivery of goods to customers.

In hospitality, Thailand’s Minor hotel group is another Zendesk customer using the omni-channel communications platform to better serve guests in a seamless way, from pre- arrival and while-staying to post-stay experiences.

Zendesk, Sandie said, also targets banks, financial services and other sectors as potential customers as the markets have been driven by higher customer expectations, especially regarding their experiences in personal and social communications.

Tom Keiser, chief operating officer of Zendesk, which has also acquired Smooch messaging platform, said the company now has a total of 145,000 customers worldwide, including several Unicorns or tech start-ups which are worth US$1 billion or more each.

With an overall worldwide revenue of $700 million so far this year, Zendesk also has about 20,000 customers in the Asia Pacific who are mainly start-ups as well as established companies rethinking their customer experience strategy as customer expectations rise.

For example, more coffee shop chains are taking orders online so that customers do not have to wait in queue or customers now expect e-commerce sites to deliver their products within hours instead of two days.

Or if customers have questions about products or services, businesses should be able to get the answers even before they are asked, which is possible using the new-generation CRM platform where sales and customer support data are all integrated and powered by artificial intelligence.

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