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There are no two ways about it - as much as there are some who deny the fact, we have already arrived in the era of digitisation. Consider how you pay your bills and research information on your purchases and you will have no doubt that we have entered the digital age.
While some might argue that people still prefer a human touch, there are ways in which companies today are mixing the best of both worlds to offer the best cross-channel experiences for their customers. For the uninitiated, cross-channel experiences refer to the experience of interested buyers from the start to the end of the sales funnel. A cross-channel experience in today’s world refers to an experience that takes advantage of digitisation to provide customers with targeted product or service information in an effective and seamless way.
A good example of this is how social media platforms such as Facebook tend to display targeted ads to users; say for instance that you have been surfing the Internet for your next tropical holiday - when you log into Facebook after that, you tend to be shown ads promoting the best South East Asian beaches or irresistible hotel deals. Cross-channel experiences take this to another level. It is about the radical integration of the consumer experience across physical and virtual environments, which translates to online and offline.
As it is, the consumer decision journey has been forever changed by the ubiquity of big data, the Internet of Things and advances in coding and design. Customers of this generation now have endless online and off-line options for researching and buying new products and services, all at their fingertips literally anytime. The argument for bringing your marketing online used to be that it was ‘the cheaper way’ (and this may no longer be true, considering Facebook’s recent announcement to double the cost of Facebook advertisements) to interact with customers.
Integrating your marketing efforts online is no longer just ‘the cheaper way,’ it is absolutely critical for executing promotions, generating sales and increasing your company’s market share. According to global statistics, the web influences more than half of all retail transactions, with potential sale opportunities that go into trillions of dollars.
Some might argue that they are already spending a part of their marketing budget on online marketing - through social media and other Web platforms, yet we must acknowledge that the tools and standards are changing faster than companies can even react. In Western countries, there are already trials where customers are able to search for products by image, voice, and gesture, or even find new opportunities via devices that augment their reality. It is not wrong to say that we are on the cusp of reality that was once only possible in the realm of science fiction.
It is not enough in today’s fast-paced world to just be active on your company’s Facebook page. Companies need to take a different approach to managing the consumer decision journey - one that embraces the speed that digitisation brings and focuses on harnessing the data that they already have. Whether your company is in the business of products or services, it is fair to say that these trends are also changing up the traditional agent-customer search and meet up.
The once-unshakeable titans of business, namely the industries of finance and insurance are now facing a crisis: how do they compete with the growth of the Internet and how do they ensure that their agents don’t go out of business? If customers can now do their own research on life insurance and takaful policies and renewals, or discover (for free even) online what are the best bonds to invest in, what is then left of their agents and executives? Indeed, the crisis is real and will require much re-aligning in order to retain customers.
How your company engages customers through digital means matter in a big way - not just because of the immediate opportunities to convert interest to sales but because, believe it or not, two-thirds of the decisions your customers make are informed by the quality of their experiences all along their journey, as reported by McKinsey, premium management consulting firm. This is where the human touch comes in, of course.
As much as there is a call to interact with customers digitally, and keep them along their decision journey, there is also a growing understanding that we need to go back to basics: the human touch. When we talk about quality of experience, it doesn’t mean keeping up with trends, it means that customers in the 21st century still look to feel cared for and that their wants and needs matter - something only humans can do.
The Malaysian-based myChoice For Life is going back to basics with their innovative digital platform. myChoice aims to help people meet their financial wellness and lifestyle goals through proper management of their financial affairs. The portal focuses on two segments - one for customers, and one for professional agents and verified advisors.
What makes myChoice so innovative is the fact that its offerings are organised by lifestyles; for instance, as a single female customer, you can click under ‘Single’ to view your financial wellness options. You can then connect with people with similar financial or lifestyle needs. As a professional agent, the platform offers a seamless way to connect with your current and potential clients.
This future-thinking platform myChoice represents a great example of going beyond social media and offering enhanced cross-channel experiences to customers and agents alike.
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