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Customer Service How may I help you? make client a brand advocate worst customers

How to Deal With Demanding Clients

demanding clients

Every business wants to do right by its customers. At the end of the day, that’s what a business is there for: to serve its customers and clients and to serve them well. A business will not stay in business without training its employees on the best practices for dealing with the customer base.

When one of those customers asks for everything, demands extras for free, and complains about the work you provide, hard conversations sometimes have to happen. Here’s how to handle your problem customers with grace and how to ensure your clientele become long-lasting, loyal patrons of your business.

Why it’s Important to Serve Tough Customers Well

You know what it’s like: You’re going about your day and minding your own business when a rude customer insists you drop everything and cater to their every whim.

It can be tempting to snap back at them or let your irritation show. But when issues occur — which they will, with even the best clients — the wisest action you or your team can take is to quickly and calmly find an equitable resolution for both of you.

When you prioritize customer service above all, you’re more likely to retain customers in the long term. In some cases, a good customer service experience can actually turn a problem client into one of your brand’s biggest proponents. But how, exactly, do you turn a customer into a brand advocate?

How to Handle Your Worst Customers

Your customers look to you — not just for your product or service — but for help and a pleasant experience. You will find that a brand advocate is your best tool against complaints and the best way to build your your company.

Make Sure You’re on the Same Page

With most of your problem customers, the root of the problem is miscommunication. Understanding the customer issues with concrete examples is key: Ask for the specifics of what they’re looking for, what went wrong, or what’s bothering them. Then take a moment and respond with equally specific solutions.

Be intentional about how you communicate. Make sure the words you choose are clear and calm. An easy way to quickly understand a situation is to mirror the language the other person is using. Be sure to parrot (mirror) your customer’s questions or concerns back to them — to see if you have truly understood their concerns.

Acknowledge Where They’re Coming From

Sometimes, all people want is to be heard. While that sounds simple — allowing your customer to talk through their situation without interruption takes a little time. Resist the temptation to jump in the conversation with a quick fix (this will make an enemy faster than almost anything you could do)! While listening — only ask questions to clarify their position. DO NOT tell them to take a breath, breathe, or “calm down.” These responses are generally known to be non-helpful.

Full and careful listening with mirroring language will help them calm down naturally and will give you the information you’ll need to diagnose the problem.

To be clear — taking time to hear, mirror and respond doesn’t mean that you have to agree with your customer. Merely listening and acknowledging their frustration will help you move closer to a resolution.

Use Any Soothing Trick to Help Yourself

You can silently be soothing yourself. “I’m okay, I can’t wait to tell the other co-workers, I’m handling everything in my life better. Instead of contradicting someone by saying “but,â€� make a point to say, “yes, and…â€� The word, “butâ€� can sound antagonistic, condescending or rude — while “yes, andâ€� lets people know you’re on their side.

Keep Tabs

If you have a customer that’s constantly demanding more or being rude, document their behavior. Record emails, voice messages and anything else that displays their problematic behavior. Make yourself a few notes of dates, times and a few quick details.

Say a customer is being particularly needy or making a ton of complaints, some of which start to sound very similar. Pointing them back to what they’ve already said can help keep them on track. Plus, it can give them a taste of what communication with them is actually like.

Call in Support

Sometimes, you just have to pass the baton. When it comes to difficult customers, don’t be afraid to ask for support. Whether from a colleague or someone in leadership, having an extra voice in the room can be comforting, and can help you reach a resolution faster.

Watch for signals for when you need to call in help, like when someone is asking for more than what you’re able to give. That is the time to call in your manager. Let him or her explain why you can’t do what they (the customer) are asking.

Go the Extra Mile

At long last, you’re finally finished helping your problem customer. You can either throw in the towel, or take this one extra step that may help you and your company retain this customer in the long run.

It’s simple: After you’re finished helping them, ask if there’s anything else you can help them with.

Being willing to go the extra mile to help does two things: First, it shows you appreciate them as a customer. Secondly, it allows them to voice other concerns that they may have forgotten about. Either way, it’s good business to do this one last check-in before sending them off.

Pushing back on a demanding customer is rarely the correct choice. You’re already busy and stressed — the last thing you need is a problem client.

By taking a mental step back, you’ll approach the situation with new eyes. With a little luck, you might even turn the terror of a customer into a loyal brand advocate. When you’ve turned an enemy into an advocate, it’s a beautiful transformation and well worth the effort.

Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels

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Customer Service Email Campaign email marketing Entrepreneurs Marketing marketing campaign Startups video email

How To Use Video to Power-Up Your Email Campaigns

video email campaign

Email marketing has resurfaced as one of the most effective ways to reach audiences. While many companies spend entire budgets trying to improve their social media presence and get heard above the noise, email campaigns offer a more personalized and direct approach, even when it comes to new audiences.

That being said, nobody likes spam. The current rise of newsletters as an informative and entertainment medium has proven that audiences are drawn to receiving content that’s not just interested in selling or promoting something.

And here is where the video comes in.

By pairing your email campaign with a video marketing strategy, you’re getting the best of both worlds by delivering valuable and engaging content straight to your customer’s mailbox.

In this piece, I’m going to guide you through the necessary steps you need to take to boost your email campaigns with video. We’ll see how to choose the right type of video for your newsletters, what are some of the best tips and tricks used by the pros, and much more.

But first…

Why Video?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

As you probably know, time is one of the most precious goods of the digital landscape. And video is the most efficient form of communication, cramming large amounts of information into just a few seconds of animation.

Plus, video is the king of engagement. You see it everywhere, from binge-able content and video tutorials to the recent popularity of streaming platforms such as Twitch and Tik Tok. Video is the preferred format of content for all kinds of audiences.

Marketers have been using the virtues of video content on their email campaigns for a while now, and the results speak for themselves:

Choosing the Right Type of Video for Your Message

There’s at least one type of video for each of your marketing needs. So, you should start by determining your campaign‘s main goal and then work with a production team to create a piece designed to achieve it.

Here are some of the most effective type of videos for your email campaign:

New Product or Service Reveal

Newsletters are a way of showing your subscribers what you’ve been up to, and there’s no better news to share with them than the launch of a brand-new product or service. This comes in the form of a product video or demo that showcases your creation’s most important features and characteristics.

A great idea is to include your subscribers in the pre-launch phase of your campaign. That way, they get an exclusive treat before anyone else. This tactic can be especially useful for small businesses that are looking to build a loyal customer base and for brands that want to benefit from word-of-mouth marketing.

Explainer Videos

At the beginning of this article, I mentioned how audiences demand valuable content from the brands they follow, and no other type of video is more helpful than the explainer video. Just as the product video centers around the features of your product, the explainer video focuses on the benefits of your product and how it can better the lives of your customers.

Explainers are short animated pieces that usually don’t go over the 90-second mark. But suppose you need a long-form video that guides users through a lengthy process. In that case, you might want to consider making a series of tutorials or how-to videos that give specific and clear instructions on how to install your product or use it properly.

Customer Stories

Many marketers make the mistake of talking way too much. But isn’t it more effective to let your happy customers do the promoting for you? Customer stories are honest and heartful testimonials from the people you’ve helped along the way. And what better way to deliver these powerful stories than directly to your leads’ inboxes?

Customer stories are at adding a real human face to your brand, humanizing your company, and making your customers trust you more. After all, people trust other people, as simple as that. Make sure your testimonial feels as honest as possible.

Event Invites

Promoting events through email just makes sense: it’s like delivering an invitation right to someone’s mailbox. And what better way to get your audience excited than with a stunning video.

Your vid doesn’t need to be lengthy; just an intriguing animation with your event’s date and location will do most of the time. If it’s a regular sort of event, you can also create a recap of last year’s edition to attract those on-the-fence attendees.

The Three Golden Rules for Using Video on Your Email Campaign

Like with any other marketing strategy, there are plenty of ways to approach using videos on your emails to great effect. However, that’s not the same to say that some practices and principles don’t tend to outperform others!

Here are some we recommend following.

1) Don’t Embed Video on Your Email

One of the most common first-timer mistakes is to think you should embed your video on your email, just like you do on your landing page. But if you’re subscribed to a couple of newsletters, you’ll notice that most of them rather use a thumbnail linked to the video hosted online. This is because many email clients often don’t support the technical requirements needed to play a video right inside the email.

But if you think this is a limitation, then turn that frown upside down. Think about it: instead of making your audience watch a video within the email itself, you can direct them to a landing page where they can watch the video and visit your online store next (or any other specific action).

2) An Attractive Thumbnail Can Make the Difference

Using a thumbnail is the most practical form of ensuring your subscribers will watch your video regardless of the device or email platform they use. So, it’s time to design an attractive thumbnail that intrigues your audience! There are a couple of ways to do this:

· Use a static picture with a play button

This is the easiest way. You can simply use a screencap of your video and insert a play button right at the center of the picture so that your audience knows it’s linked to a video.

· Use a short GIF of your video

GIFs are the closest thing next to actually uploading your video, giving the illusion of video but with the key difference that they are well-supported across email clients. And even though some platforms like Outlook 2013 and Windows 10 don’t play GIFs, they’ll show the first frame of your GIF as a static image.

Extra pro tip: Keep your thumbnail below 200KB, or below 1MB if you’re using GIFs. There’s a chance your email will be identified as spam if it contains heavy attachments.

3) Place Your Video Below the Copy

Before embedding your thumbnail, make sure you write a brief introduction. It doesn’t need to be too long, just a few words to introduce your piece. Formatting is super important in emails. A message with just a picture will look like spam.

Conclusions

The global lockdown has made many companies rethink the way they connect with their audience. Now more than ever, audiences demand valuable content from the brands they support, and an email campaign that uses video can do that.

The pandemic has also taught us how unforeseeable the future is and how things can change from one second to the next.  While this article provides a comprehensive guide, it’s up to you to start figuring out what your own audience likes and dislikes, and what type of emails and videos are going to strengthen that bond. I wish you the bests of luck.

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AI Customer Service Product Reviews

Strategizing for 2021 With Sentiment Analysis Using Product Review Data

strategizing 2021 analysis

2020 started with a lot of concern; individuals, businesses, and governments were all thrown into a state of confusion. COVID-19 ravaged the world and there was no known remedy.

2021, however, promises to be a year full of hope. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have filed for emergency authorization in the US of their Covid-19 vaccine; the advanced trial showed the vaccine protects 94% of adults over 65.

With the view of a remedy at our reach, organizations will start strategizing for 2021. One thing we must learn to live with as a result of the pandemic is home working.

Most business will have to be conducted online as compared to before the pandemic. You will have to deal with the issue of more data that is going to be ferried from one spot to the other.

More than ever before, customer feedback will make a lot of difference in your products and services. You must consider the feelings and comments of your customers if you still want to be relevant and competitive in this “new� business landscape.

The business world is slowly getting used to big data; however, it is the source through which you get your data. One pertinent question you must be ready to answer is, do you have a strategy in place to enable you to gain useful insight into the data even when you have access to it?

Sentiment analysis using product review data

ResearchGate, in a study, revealed that more than 80% of Amazon product buyers trust online reviews in the same manner as word of mouth recommendations. There two channels through which you can get these online reviews: the first is review sites, while the second is social media.

While acquiring the data has been made easy, the data you get from these channels are, unfortunately, unstructured. To make any headway out of the data, you must put in several hours of human labor for structuring and analysis.

However, advancement in technology has made it relatively easy to deploy Natural Language Processing and machine learning into sentiment analysis using product review data. You can use several techniques and complex algorithms such as Linear Regression, Naive Bayes, and Support Vector Machines (SVM) are used to detect user sentiments such as sarcasm, context, and misapplied words.

When you use these techniques, the tool usually separates the reviews into positive, negative, or neutral tags. This will enable you to obtain the relevant insights within minutes.

The insights you have been able to obtain will indicate the needs of your customers and you can then use them for the following:

  1. Discover what your customers like and dislike about your product or service

Sentiment analysis using product review data will not only reveal the feelings of your customers towards your product; you will also understand what they think about your current approach. From this, you will know what improvements you have to implement.

You will have a clear insight into your customers’ mindset and how they interact with each other about your brand. The insights you gain from these will enable you to send content that resonates deeply with your target audience.

  1. Use your product reviews to know your status in the market.

Sentiments about your brand can shift radically and quickly, depending on what’s happening globally. For instance, the Cambridge Analytical Scandal was a big blow to Facebook; you can use sentiment analysis to appropriately monitor your brand’s status and focus on PR campaigns.

You will be able to shift and flex your efforts as quickly as the reviews.

  1. Develop actionable strategies to improve deficiencies

How do you package your product, for instance? Do you believe it has to be bigger or smaller? Can you afford to increase the price, taking into consideration a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic?

When you listen to your customers, you will know the step to take to boost engagement, raise satisfaction, and convert more customers to your brand.

  1. Boost customer conversion rate

While your effort must be geared at getting positive feedback, occasional negative feedback can also be useful. Since they are paying for your product or service, consider your customers as your most honest critics.

Their views are impactful and will help you to acquire new customers if you implement changes. Making adjustments based on insights from customer feedback will help you deliver better customer experiences, products, and services that will keep your customers coming back.

Once they are satisfied, they willingly spread the word to friends and family, bringing in new customers.

  1. Obtain real-time product insights anytime

Feedback through sentiment analysis using product review data is effortless and quick. It can provide you with real-time updates about how customers adjust to any recent change you may make.

  1. Improve service

The more you make positive changes to customer service, the more customers appreciate your gesture and become more loyal. To find out if these changes are necessary, you need to deploy aspect-based sentiment analysis. This will enable you to clinically dissect the problems that may or may not exist in your company.

Conclusion

It’s not just about having data; it’s about carrying out sentiment analysis using product review data. Sentiment analysis will give your brand the actual insight into the mindset of your customers.

Using the information in real-time enables your company to implement the necessary marketing strategies to become relevant and more competitive. You need to constantly watch and analyze the views of your customers because they can change their opinions quickly.

Customers can be erratic, but having a strategy in place that includes sentiment analysis in your digital marketing arsenal will go a long way to improve things.

Image Credit: shutterstock

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AI Artifical intelligence chatbot Customer Service tourism travel industry

Chatbots for Travel and Tourism: Travel Experience Made Better

chatbots for travel

A decade ago, if you had fancied a vacation to the Bahamas, it will take at least or half of it to plan and get the itinerary in place. Booking flight tickets required visiting multiple travel agents in person, comparing costs, and then fixing an agreement with the best of the lot. Then there was planning the itinerary, choosing the place of stay, mode of commute — all of which is not for those who take traveling lightly. Here are chatbots for travel and tourism — travel experience made better.

If you are someone like me, packing the rucksack, wait until a few hours before the flight takes off. Meticulous travel planning is not my cup of tea. Luckily for folks like me, chatbots are taking over travel planning. Along with it, they are also reforming travel and hospitality as we know it for good. 

Here are some real-world applications that are out there right now. The next time you even think of planning a vacation, you might stumble upon them or their likes. 

Real-world chatbot applications in travel and tourism

What can chatbots possibly do in travel planning? 

Aren’t they supposed to be super-complicated software systems that only large enterprises use? 

Well, this is one of the myths that has shrouded chatbots as a mystery technology. The fact is, chatbots are logic-based programs that can be used even for basic functionalities. That makes them a perfect fit for the travel and tourism industry, where the scale of low-priority and high-volume* transactions is high. 

*Low-priority — frequently asked questions that can be easily addressed by a system without the intervention of a human agent. 

High-volume — hundreds, thousands, or even more simultaneous real-time transactions. 

1. Integrating instant messengers with chatbots

Instant messengers have literally replaced emails and text messages for quick messaging. They are fast, convenient, and save a lot of time. Imagine the convenience they can introduce to the travel and tourism industry? 

Let’s take that convenience one step ahead. What if chatbots can converse through instant messengers. As you are reading this piece, there could be countless conversations happening on instant messengers that are being led by chatbots. In fact, WhatsApp, which has become the de-facto medium for instant messaging, offers chatbot integration. Other messengers like Facebook are also popularly used by travelers. 

Business owners like tour operators, hotel property owners, travel aggregators, etc., can use chatbots to automate conversations with customers. The IM-chatbot integration makes it possible for travel businesses to have an always-available virtual assistant who can respond to guests through instant messages. In fact, airlines are already using IMs to send boarding passes and flight details to travelers.

Integrating instant messengers with chatbots

Source: Airline Staff Rates

What benefits do integrating a chatbot with an instant messenger offer?

  • It spares the business owner from having to initiate basic conversations.
  • Standard or canned responses to frequent queries can be handled by the chatbot.
  • The user gets a trail of information in an instant messaging app that they use the most.

2. Make ticket bookings based on real-time fare comparisons

Like I mentioned earlier, flight ticket bookings have taken the online route. Millennial customers have, in fact, moved to the mobile route where travel aggregator apps and flight booking apps make things easier than ever before. 

However, there is one challenge that is still troubling travelers. Finding the best flight tickets. If you have tried booking a flight ticket before, you know how the ticket cost fluctuates with a mind of their own. It is complicated even for a net-savvy person to stay track of it. Also, it is almost impossible to comb through all airline websites to find the best fare. 

Can chatbots help here? Of course, they can. Like how they facilitate booking management for travel business owners, chatbots can help travelers find the best flight tickets as well. 

A chatbot can help determine how much each airline is charging for a flight cost from New Zealand to Copa on a given day. The search gives class-wise details that make it easy to book or look for alternative options instantly.

Skyscanner, a popular website for finding flight ticket prices, has already surpassed one million chatbot interactions (eConsultancy Interview with Filip Filipov, Skyscanner). If the user is not satisfied with the ongoing price, they can instruct the chatbot to set a price alert. The chatbot will notify the user when there is a price change. This is akin to having a personal travel agent who finds the best flight tickets at the nick of the time.

Make ticket bookings based on real-time fare comparisons

Image Credit: Chatbots Life

3. Facilitate web check-ins 

Chatbots can help travelers initiate web check-ins for flights or hotels through a chatbot for social media, instant messenger, or a website. Sounds too futuristic? Well, the truth is most have already used the airline website for web check-ins. A chatbot can make the chore a tidbit easier by enabling you to do it from your mobile phone. 

chatbot Facilitate web check-ins

Image Credit: Engati

This has several benefits to it:

  • You can check-in if you are stuck in traffic en route to the airport.
  • If you don’t have access to a computer
  • Or make use of premium member privileges that are available only on mobile.

4. Sketch a detailed travel itinerary

Until recently, there were two types of travel: business and leisure. But, millennials who value experiences more than material possessions are using their business travels for leisure as well. This has led to the formation of a new travel type: Bleisure. 

Bleisure is travel where business matters and leisure activities are taken care of in the same trip. According to Forbes, Bleisure trips are growing by 20% since 2016. While leisure sounds great as a concept, it poses unique challenges for the traveler. To begin with, finding nearby attractions for exploration. 

Of course, there are travel websites, blogs, and magazines that describe at length where to go, when, and how. However, they are usually written from a leisure travel perspective and do not consider leisure.

For millennials who want to make the best use of the opportunity, a chatbot based recommender system can help. The chatbot, which was probably used to book the flight ticket, can suggest nearby attractions. The traveler can plan the itinerary and also avail of deals for hotel bookings. In short, it is a win-win situation for all the parties involved. 

chatbot Sketch a detailed travel itinerary

Source: Chatbots Life

5. Customer Support— 24/7 

Chatbots do not need recesses, holidays, or weekends off. They are always available. You can make them work on your website, mobile app, or even integrate them with the social handles of your business. That makes them perfect for donning the hat of customer support professionals. 

In their customer service role, chatbots can offer:

  • Real-time flight status updates
  • Request for change in hotel arrival times
  • Cab or hotel service requests
  • Book restaurant tables

If you think about it, travel is a global phenomenon. Travelers are not always from the same time zone or destination. This can cause serious staffing issues in the support department of a travel business. A chatbot can fill the void by fending basic queries that come in large volumes from customers. 

What’s more fascinating is that a single chatbot can handle dozens or more queries at the same time from multiple customers. Compared to that, a single customer service rep can handle only one customer at a time. That is a huge leap in productivity that we are looking at. 

chatbot for Customer Support— 24/7

Source: Chatfuel

Final thoughts: 

Travel is a personal and intimate experience. For the experience-driven millennial generation, it is one of the priorities in life. Like everything else, travel businesses must also take efforts to improve the customer experience with the aid of technology. Chatbots provide just the means for that. 

They enable travelers to make quick travel plans, sketch out a travel itinerary, avail the best deals on hotel bookings, and much more. They provide the convenience of on-the-go lifestyle arrangements that mobile has made us accustomed to.

Still more, chatbots will enable travel business owners to maximize their productivity without shooting their own foot with hefty costs. 

Be it for travelers or travel businesses; chatbots prove to be worthy virtual companions.

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customer churn customer experience Customer Service

Best Ways to Stop Customer Churn Immediately

stop customer churn

Every business faces churn. If your business is facing churn, you are not alone. But everyone deals with it differently. Some companies immediately look for new customers while some invest all their efforts in retaining existing ones. Customer churn is the number of customers who stop doing business with a company during a given period. According to research, avoidable customer churn is costing U.S. businesses $136 billion a year.

What is Customer Churn?

Customer churn is the number of customers who leave the company or stop business in a given period. Churn rate is important cause it shows how much it costs to lose business with customers. According to research by Bain and Company, a mere increase of 5 percent in customer retention can improve profits up to 95 percent.

Churn rate is calculated by dividing the number of lost customers by the number of customers you started with in that period of time. Knowing about customer churn reduction is necessary for any business.

Why do customers leave a company?

Customers can leave a company due to multiple reasons. Some of them include-

  • Customer is dissatisfied with your service.
  • Product does not fulfill customer requirements.
  • Customer doesn’t get personalized service.
  • Lack of communication.
  • Customer feels disengaged with company ethos.
  • The price feels unviable in the long run.
  • They are no longer a target audience for your product or service.

Most churn happens in these brackets. Sometimes customer needs outgrow the category or niche; this may cause churn.

Why customer churn matters?

Customer churn causes a problem for companies in many ways. As per Forrester, it costs 5 times more for companies to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer.

Companies lose more than $1.6 trillion per year due to churn. If more customers are retained, more revenue is generated by companies. Harvard Business School report says that nearly 65% of a company’s business share is from existing customers. Customer churn is unique for each company.

For some companies, customers find the price point not effective and hence want to switch. Poor market fit is another reason customers churn.

Churn rate formula= Number of customers lost/ Total number of customers

11 Effective Strategies to Reduce Customer Churn Immediately

There are some things a company can do to reduce customer churn. Here are the 11 best ways you can reduce churn immediately.

  1. Analyze Reasons for Churn:

    You need to find out why customers decide to leave in the first place. The best way to know why they leave is by talking to them. Getting customers to talk about their issues is the best way to learn. If you connect with them over mail or phone about their issues, chances of replying are faster.

    Fast replies show that you genuinely care about them and want to find out what is wrong importantly. If you know the reasons for churn, mitigating it becomes easier.

  2. Engage with Customers:

    Engaging with customers is also important. It does miracles in reducing churn. Higher engagement means better interest. Relationship marketing or engagement is making your customers feel valued. Showing them the value in your products and services through good content will help keep them hooked.

    Engaging through emails and calls can help the existing customer base clarify upcoming upgrades, news, and more. When you engage, you have to practice social listening as well to create a great customer experience.

  3. Target the right set:

    No matter how many strategies you make, if the audience is wrong, there are fewer chances of success. Targeting the set of audiences who are likely to use the product for the long term is important.

    Those who appreciate the long-term value will stay invested for a long time. You cannot consider every customer as the best. Instead, it is important to keep the right ones more invested. The right targeting is important even for marketing and sales purposes.

  4. Proactive communication:

    If you reach out to customers before they need you, they feel very happy. If you demonstrate an interest in their activities, they understand the value of the product or service.

    Being active with customers is great. If someone has signed up with the product or service, you need to check if they leverage the benefits. If they are not, reach out and ask why. When customers know the capabilities, it is easier to keep them interested and active. Customer engagement is the key here to build long term relationships.

  5. Estimate who is at risk:

    The best way to not get burnt is to avoid the fire. The best way to prevent churn is not to let it happen. There is always a set of customers who will leave more quickly than someone else. Know who these individuals are and reach out to them.

    Identifying those edgy customers is one of the most popular churn reduction tactics. Nearly 35 percent of B2B organizations have reduced customer churn by identifying customers.

    Once you identify their pain points and who they are, half the reduction is made. They may have written a mail once or complained about an issue. Look at those numbers and decide if their experience can be of critical importance in estimating churn.

  6. Ask for feedback:

    It is often frustration that leads to churn. When customers are annoyed with products or services, it can manifest as churn. Getting to the root of the issue is necessary to get feedback early.

    Creating a customer feedback loop is necessary to present the business’s right tone with an AI chatbot. A survey, or feedback form can immensely help in understanding the customer’s pulse.

    When you know what the majority feedback is, you can apply those remarks on a product or service to improve customer satisfaction. Once you get the feedback, take it seriously.

  7. Educate your customer:

    If the customer has good quality educational support materials, it will increase retention and reduce churn. Free video training, tutorials, product demos can influence customer mindset. Any tutorials, training, and demos will keep your customers informed and comfortable.

    You must teach your employees how to use your site tools with adequate training. Good training will be necessary for onboarding and implementation. When you pass the knowledge on to your customers by way of education — it can lead to high retention levels, as it is the backbone of customer success. If your customers know how to use the product, chances of deflecting are low.

  8. Offer incentives:

    A great way to retain customers is to offer them incentives. Special offers, discounts, and deals will immensely help customers who are likely to defect.

    Offering such incentives is very effective in reducing churn. One thing here is offering a deal or incentive that does not drill a hole in your pocket. Your costs of retaining them should not exceed the profits you will get from their continued relationship.

  9. Give the best service:

    Isn’t this the finest tip of all? This is the most important way to keep customers. Poor customer service is the biggest reason customer churn occurs. As per a report by Oracle, the two main reasons for customer churn include poor or slow service and rude staff.

    According to research by Forum Corporation, customer churn due to poor service occurs at a staggering 70 percent. Customer service is, in fact, the pillar of customer success.

  10. Take Complaints seriously:

    Complaints are important. They reflect a problem in the process that can be corrected if paid attention to. It is necessary to note that 96 percent of unhappy customers do not complain. The ones complain are, often, not taken seriously.

    One negative experience is all that it takes to stop doing business with a brand for more than 30 percent of customers. Customer reviews on social media, online portals, and word of mouth publicity can all be deciding factors. Have a live chat feature on your site to get feedback and insights on the product or service.

  11. Stay Competitive:

    Be competitive in the market. What makes your company stand out? What are the aspects that make it different? What are the losses for customers if they quit? Analyze what makes your company special and present that piece of you — to customers. Be situational in upgrades. Understanding the precise situation will help you stay afloat and solve customer problems.

    If the product has undergone any improvisations, let them know. This will showcase the unique points and let customers know the positives of the product. Spot the ‘next big thing’ and be there. Keep shifting as per trends, technology, and public mindset.

Bottom Line: Reducing Churn is Important

It is clear that losing customers is hard. So it is better to provide them the best service. Creating conditions where customers see clear benefits in the products you offer is important. By working on the tips, you can let your customers stay loyal to the company.

Even a mere 2 percent increase in customer retention can reduce customer acquisition costs up to 10 percent. Churn is inevitable, but we can only work to reduce the impact of it.

Customer churn is mostly due to poor customer service and lack of awareness instead of product competency or value. Give your customers the value they signed up for. Communicate with them about your products and enhance your customer service levels.

The post Best Ways to Stop Customer Churn Immediately appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Branding customer connection customer engagement customer experience Customer Service Digital Marketing Marketing online marketing

How to Use 6 Moments of Truth to Create a Strong Bond Between Customers and Your Brand

customers and branding

In the 1980s, Jan Carlzon, President of Scandinavian Airlines, introduced the concept of the “moments of truth� to his organization. In Carlzon’s words, “The Moments of Truth are the various points at which people connect with the brand.� Here is how to use six moments of truth to create a strong bond between your customers and your brand.

Moments of Truth

Carlzon believed that if you create a positive outcome at each Moment of Truth — then your business will be successful. That theory proved accurate when Scandinavian Airlines became one of the most admired industry brands, despite tough competition.

Since then, the Moments of Truth concept gained momentum as it rolled through sales, traditional marketing, and growth marketing that focuses on user acquisition and retaining customers, and turning them into passionate advocates.

Each brand uses it to build an emotional connection with customers at each moment.

Initially, only Carlzon used the concept of Moments of Truth. As the theory progressed, more brands, like Procter & Gamble, Google, and others, joined the movement, unveiling the exact Moments of Truth necessary to reach their users’ hearts.

Today, you will find countless micro-moments involved in the theory. In this post, I will discuss six significant moments at each step of the entire customer journey.

Without further ado, let’s explore what those moments are and how they will help you build a long-lasting relationship with customers.

6 Moments of Truth to Build a Strong Bond with Customers

1. Less than Zero Moments of Truth (<ZMOT): “I don’t know.�

People get on Google and research products or services before buying them. But a “before-Google� moment exists when something happens in the customers’ lives that lead them to go online and find out the answers or solutions.

This is the “Less than Zero Moment of Truth� (or “<ZMOT�). A brand must plant the idea of why potential customers need their product or service before they jump onto Google for more information. Call this the “awareness stage� when customers have a problem but are not aware of it yet.

To create awareness during Less than Zero Moments of Truth, you will require:

  • Data on who your targeted audience is
  • Data on which channels they hang out in the most
  • Content with search intent that fits well at the awareness stage, as well as fits the channel itself

For example, Femibion is a German pregnancy healthcare brand owned by Merck Consumer Health. Merck wanted to raise brand awareness by offering a free baby-planning book called Femibion BabyPlanung.

To sell the planning book would be challenging because mothers weren’t even aware that they needed a baby-planning book to demystify practical issues during pregnancy.

Merck took this challenge and worked with Facebook on a multistage campaign, targeting female audiences in Germany.

The campaign debuted with a cheeky series of carousel ads, presenting blissfully happy pictures of “baby-making places,� or particular spots where women might conceive a child.

The later ads possessed a more standard format, featuring the book’s image, accompanied by a call to action.

By the time the brand ended the promotion, the ads had a 35% increase in conversion rate. As a bonus, the company successfully generated 10K leads while decreasing their sample distribution cost by 2X.

Because Less than Zero Moments of Truth is just an awareness stage, you can’t guarantee leads. Generally, when users become aware of a problem or solution, their next step is to Google-it — which brings us to our next Moment of Truth.

2. Zero Moments of Truth (ZMOT): “This is the problem. I need a solution.�

Here comes your favorite moment: When potential customers jump onto Google to find the solution or answer to their problem or question. They may find themselves fascinated by your product or service while on their journey.

The moment takes place before the consumer has decided to buy. At this moment, consumers also look for websites, reviews, and other confirming data before they make up their minds.

Google, itself came up with the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) in 2011.

ZMOT is a collection of multiple moments, also known as a “micro-moment,� wherein consumers go through multiple mini-moments before buying the product.

How does a Micro-Moment Play Out?

Picture this: A traveler is seeking a new place to explore. He runs into an ad for a Smoky Mountain resort on social media. He searches Google to see how the place looks and read some Google reviews; then, he asks friends and checks out YouTube to find worthy places around the resort.

In this case, the potential customer goes through multiple micro-moments before making fully informed decisions using all available sources.

The key here is to optimize each micro-moment that takes place along the journey, starting from when consumers go online to when they select the product or service, read reviews, compare information, and so on.

There are three steps to optimize each Zero Moment of Truth:

  • Find your zero moments: Imagine a customer’s journey, starting from going to Google with potential searches to consuming everything that comes along the way. Note every moment that takes place. Figure out ways to integrate your brand. For example, you can collect Google reviews from past customers to convince future customers.
  • Answer the questions that customers ask: Work on discovering all the questions those potential customers may ask and answer them in every possible way. For example, answer the question, “What are the best places to visit around the Eiffel Tower?â€� in an article or video format.
  • Adopt four parts of communication: There are four ways to communicate with your potential customers at the Zero Moment of Truth stage via content:
    1. Paid advertisements: Google ads or social media ads
    2. Owned content: Creating your own content to promote your brand
    3. Earned content: Winning online product reviews and social media buzz
    4. Shared content: Natural brand mentions, like people sharing your stories by word of mouth

Once consumers register your brand in their mind after repeated mentions in various micro-moments, they become ready to click “buy�—but first, they need a little nudge.

3. First Moment of Truth (FMOT): “I want to buy it but…�

Now comes the most sensitive moment.

First coined by Procter & Gamble, the “First Moments of Truth� (or “FMOT�) are the 3-7 seconds after the shopper has become convinced by the brand’s product or service. This is when brands have the best chance to convert searchers into buyers by bewitching their senses, values, and emotions.

Generally, these moments involve the customer reading a description or hearing a pitch to understand better how the product serves their needs.

Consider this: Dao Labs is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) creator brand for a Westernized audience. They wanted to make their medicine feel approachable, credible, and necessary for a balanced lifestyle.

The problem was when visitors arrived at their product page; they didn’t feel familiar with TCM. So, the brand started telling large stories wrapped in history, usage, and benefits clearly.

As a result, they built a product page that appealed to human emotions, values, and everyday health issues.

A good presentation with a little list of how your product will fulfill the user’s needs is all you will need to turn visitors into buyers. On top of that, allowing users to zoom in and showing multiple angles will increase their likelihood of clicking the “buy� button.

Once they click “buy� and finish the payment, this is where retailers typically drop the ball.

Your real journey to create strong bonds begins when customers purchase your product and reach the moment of the gap.

4. Actual Moment of Truth (AMOT): “When will my product arrive?�

Once consumers buy a product, brands lose control over the process (except for keeping customers informed). More importantly, no one looks after the emotions that customers go through when purchasing the product and when they receive it.

The time period can be as short as immediate product delivery, like an online subscription, or a few days’ deliveries for a physical product.

Amit Sharma, Founder and CEO of Narvar, call this gap the “Actual Moment of Truth� (or “AMOT�). This is where you have an opportunity to do more than send a shipping confirmation email. The actual moment of truth is where you have an opportunity to tell the customer that they made the best decision by choosing you over others.

Let’s take an example of cold cream to understand how to keep users entertained during the AMOT.

Let’s say a customer buys cold cream online from a brand. Along with the shipment details, the brand can offer suggestions on when to use the cream and how many times it should be applied. Maybe the brand can go even further by sharing tips on protecting their skin against chilly weather.

Regardless of your business, there are always Actual Moments of Truth that occur while the customer waits for the product to arrive. Find them and use them as an opportunity to deliver a more positive experience.

After customers receive your product and are enjoying the tips you have sent them during the AMOT, they will move towards a resulting experience. It is at this point when your product is expected to support your pre-purchase promises.

5. Second Moment of Truth (SMOT): “Let’s Use the product.�

When customers receive the product and start using it, it has a major impact on their satisfaction level. Hands-on product experience directly affects the reputation of a brand, as well as its audience reach. This is when customers subconsciously start thinking about whether they would like to continue a relationship with the brand or not.

Procter & Gamble coined this moment as the “Second Moment of Truth� (or “SMOT�), which is when customers start using the product.

Many marketers’ challenge is to ensure an excellent experience when everything depends on the product’s usage.

Why do you need content marketing?

  1. To provide targeted information to help customers use their products.
  2. To offer toll-free numbers to solve their issues instantly, for free.
  3. To help them return or fix the product as soon as possible.
  4. To send them how-to videos and user guides.
  5. To be accessible instantly to answer their questions.

By doing so, brands will potentially convert a one-time buyer into a fan. Even if your product fails to meet their expectations, you can always promise to live up to the next time.

When customers finish experiencing your product from the inside-out, they will mark the occasion by sharing their experience with friends, family, and online communities.

6. Ultimate Moment of Truth (UMOT): “Hey, I bought this product, and it’s…�

The instant customers get familiar with your product; they will run to their friends and online networks to share their experience with others. The intention behind this is their need for self-expression and their desire to notify others.

Procter & Gamble termed this as the“Ultimate Moment of Truth� (or “UMOT�). This is why customers provide feedback on products in multiple formats, like sharing with friends or colleagues, posting Google reviews and Facebook reviews, uploading YouTube videos, etc.

Shared experiences are like a snowball. Once it starts rolling down a long, snowy hill, it collects more snow on the way and turns into a big ball that can make or break your brand. The more people share experiences with others, the more people become aware of your brand. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on the feedback that is shared.

These reviews will become discoverable and influential enough on search networks to beat all your SEO and branding strategies.

Sure, you don’t have control over how customers will experience your product and share their opinions about it online. But you can respond to them better and align their experience with their expectations.

The question is: How?

Let’s take a look at these foolproof steps to optimize the Ultimate Moment of Truth.

Step 1: Collects insights on customer experience.

Collect customer feedback from all places possible. You can use tools that offer brand mention services to inquire about places where people share their brand experiences. Keep track of customer call feedback and complaints to obtain a deeper understanding of the customer experience.

Step 2: Get a team involved

Decentralize your feedback efforts by allocating team members to take care of positive or negative feedback. This can include apologizing for defects and promising to exchange or refund the product, or thank you for an impressive review.

Step 3: Keep tabs on opportunities

Finally, instruct your team to stay focused on opportunities to take advantage of the ultimate Moments of Truth. No matter whether customers are too angry or unimpressed with your products to keep the relationship going, you can grab these opportunities to send offers that will make up for their disappointment or help them develop a good impression of your brand.

These optimized Ultimate Moments of Truth will complement the entire customer journey. Each shared experience, along with the brand’s response to them, will turn into a Zero Moment of Truth for each potential customer. In other words, the Ultimate Moment of Truth can be the Zero Moment of Truth for other customers who come online with lots of questions in mind.

And the cycle keeps going.

What you will realize is that moments of truth aren’t just moments. They are an experienced, fueled continuum.

Keep the flow going and come back to share your experience.

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credit card services Customer Service digital payments digital transformation Entrepreneurs Payments ReadWrite

Growth in Digital Payments Spur Credit Card Services

digital payment growth

The entire digital payments landscape has faced significant structural changes over the last few years and keeps growing as a valuable payment option for shoppers worldwide. Now, with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing operational adjustments everywhere, more companies are adopting global payment solutions to fuel growth and remain profitable. 

As companies continue to digitize their operations, online shopping is becoming more accessible to consumers. As a result, the global credit card processing industry is expected to experience steady growth due to a rise in digital payments. 

Read on to learn about how global credit card services are expected to grow thanks to the rise in digital payments.

Begin Accepting Credit & Debit Cards

Utilizing global credit card processing services empowers your small business to accept credit and debit cards. With e-commerce sales surging, there has never been a better time to begin accepting credit cards, a widely favored form of consumer payment and essential for doing business online. 

Accepting credit cards legitimizes your business, boosts your sales and improves your cash flow. It may also encourage impulse buying for online shoppers, which in turn helps increase revenue and average transaction value. 

When you use global merchant services, you can eliminate the risk of accepting a bad check while simultaneously increasing convenience for your customers. Purchasing global merchant account services will set your business up for greater success by offering your customers the convenience of credit, debit, and online payments. 

Attract Foreign Customers

Purchasing global credit card processing services also helps online businesses effectively attract foreign customers. Across the globe, online payment solutions are consistently becoming the preferred way for customers to shop. 

Using global credit card processing services, you can manage currency exchange, tax compliance, foreign standards, and language support. By addressing this demand, you can attract new customers in other countries, expand your business into a truly global enterprise, and manage compliance standards. 

Remain Ahead of Competitors through Digital Payments

Working alongside global credit card processing service providers can help your small business consistently remain ahead of the competition. Whether you are operating a small brick and mortar business, an online e-commerce company, or a large conglomerate, you undoubtedly already know that it’s essential to strategically plan how to stay ahead of competitors.

With a global merchant account, you can set the bar for competitors in your market space. These solutions allow you to expand your online presence, attract foreign competitors, and offer services that your competitors do not. 

Options: Offer Alternative Digital Payments

Global credit card processing solutions let you offer alternative payment options to your customers. When purchasing products online, consumers want and expect a choice. Global merchant solutions deliver the flexibility to provide a variety of payments and alternatives. 

Once equipped, these processing services allow you to accept alternatives such as mobile wallets, smartphone payments, and direct bank transfers. Other advanced options are even able to process transactions using digital cryptocurrencies. These advanced global merchant account solutions expand the choices you can offer to your valued customers. 

Scale Your Business

Most business owners realize how important it is that their companies continue to grow. In fact, for your business to remain successful, you need to fuel dynamic and consistently robust growth. Global credit card processing solutions can help you do just that. 

Accepting credit cards optimizes your checkout procedures and makes your services more accessible to your customers. It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure your business is thriving, and it’s especially effective in growing your business during an ongoing health crisis like COVID. 

As the digital landscape continues to grow, businesses are integrating global merchant account solutions in order to improve productivity. They’re looking to enhance shopper convenience and fuel business growth. When properly installed, global digital payments are a relatively inexpensive business resource. Even better, these systems can be set up relatively quickly and easily. 

Once installed, online businesses can utilize these solutions to effectively attract foreign customers. At the same time, global merchant accounts empower you. They help you outpace the competition and offer a more convenient, pleasant customer experience. The result is a more consistent rate of growth for your business. 

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Customer Service customer service technology Saas adoption Software Software as a Service

6 Ways SaaS is Improving the Way Businesses Do Things

Software as a service, also known as SaaS, has quickly transformed the way that people think about digital technology. Instead of seeing applications as static things that are downloaded and then quickly forgotten, SaaS allows for tools to constantly be tweaked, updated, and reworked in order to fit the needs of those using them. SaaS will take off no matter what, so businesses better be prepared for it when it does.

The reasons a business may adopt a SaaS model are numerous, but some leaders may not be aware of the full breadth that SaaS can offer them — here are some prime examples:

1. Improved Customer Service

The model of the traditional call center is outdated, inefficient, and beloved by no one. Between long wait times and limited options for accessibility, the call center needed an extreme makeover — thankfully, it has gotten one courtesy of new SaaS technology. Maximizing the call center experience has long been the goal of customer experience experts, and the tech has finally arrived to make it a reality.

Contact center as a service, or CCaaS, integrates every aspect of the call center experience with cutting-edge technology, allowing customer service representatives access to vital information instantly. Instead of being forced to go through prefab questionnaires, customer experience specialists can now get directly to the heart of a client’s issue and solve things themselves. It may not be universal just yet, but cloud-based contact centers are changing the world of customer service at this very moment.

2. Increased Cybersecurity

In today’s digital world, most companies simply cannot afford the levels of cybersecurity they need in order to stay safe. The threat is greater than ever, but so is the cost of the solution — unless, of course, your company adopts more SaaS platforms. 

If your company operates its applications in-house, it’s up to your IT or cybersecurity department themselves to protect you from outside threats. No matter how talented your teams are, there are always going to be threats too large for them to take on directly. SaaS apps rely on the cybersecurity capabilities of the company providing them, often companies larger and better-equipped to handle these threats than you are. Whether you’re protecting your employees’ information or the periphery of your network, SaaS can help you in the process.

3. Fewer IT Responsibilities

Speaking of  IT teams, SaaS tools can be something of a double-edged sword for them. On one hand, they’re applications that operate outside of their direct purview, meaning that they can’t protect and take responsibility for them the way they’d like to. Conversely, they also ease their burden, letting someone else shoulder the burden of protecting your business from harm on the internet. 

The best way to find a happy medium here is by giving your IT team the responsibility to manage your SaaS applications. 97% of IT executives think that SaaS management is an important responsibility of the IT team, but only 45% know how many SaaS apps are in usage at their business, a frighteningly large gap for most businesses. SaaS can help your IT team focus on more important work, but don’t let SaaS management fall through the cracks as a result — the results could be catastrophic.

4. Cost Reduction

This is still business, of course: there’s no point in adopting SaaS technologies if they’re not cost-effective. In almost all cases, gravitating towards SaaS will save your company money in the long run when compared to applications that are hard-installed. There’s often very little setup required, slashing startup costs, and the continued maintenance of most SaaS platforms makes them a far better long-term investment than traditional apps, many of which can fall out of fashion in just a few years. 

There are still a few measures businesses should be taking in order to minimize costs, however, namely in the form of maximizing usage: between 35 and 40% of all SaaS licenses are underused, meaning the businesses that pay for them aren’t getting as much as they can for their money. Be sure to do regular audits of your SaaS licenses, ensuring that you’re maximizing your usage of them wherever possible. Better yet, before purchasing a license seriously consider what your usage of it will be: if your answer isn’t commensurate with the price, opt for a different platform.

5. Boosted Efficiency

One of the biggest appeals of SaaS has always been efficiency — the prospect that your chosen platform will be optimized, streamlined, and feature minimal ballast. This is perhaps the biggest distinction between SaaS platforms and traditional applications: because the latter are designed for continuous usage after installation, they tend to do a lot of things well instead of a few things excellently.

SaaS platforms, on the other hand, are generally built around a small set of highly-specialized tools designed to perfectly suit your company’s needs. This allows you to rest assured that you’re not making any sacrifices in efficiency for the sake of your platforms — you’re always using the best possible tools available to you.

6. Dynamic Adaptations 

By virtue of its very structure, SaaS makes updates easy. Because SaaS apps tend to be cloud-housed instead of implanted in individual devices, they can be tweaked or bolstered dynamically by their provider. These SaaS updates are often frequent, unilateral, and respond to the most recent changes in what users want from their platform. 

A traditional application may work well for you when first installed, but time can quickly erode the novelty that keeps these apps fresh. With SaaS models, continued updates are almost a guarantee, ensuring that the tools you’re using never dull over time. This can allow businesses to adopt a platform that works early on, not having to worry about finding a new, better application every several years. 

SaaS may not have changed the way you do business just yet, but it’s poised to do so soon. As you prepare your business for the next generation of tech, keep the benefits of SaaS in mind — they could have quite the impact.

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Connected Devices Customer Service India India and iPhone Mobile ReadWrite The India iPhone market

Why Apple’s iPhone Struggles in India and Why it Matters

apple iphone in india

Apple, the world’s most profitable company, has one of the most valuable products, the iPhone, which accounts for 60 percent of Apple’s yearly revenue. The iPhone and its entire ecosystem have experienced a lot of success in many countries across the globe with iPhone sales growing from a million dollars in 2007 to a staggering 231 million in 2015.

iPhone Sales

In the last couple of years, iPhone sales have been flat, and they haven’t been much of an exception, general smartphone sales have been on the decline due to smartphone saturation; where the average person has a smartphone leaving manufacturers with no one to sell to.

Apple being a public company cannot thrive on plateauing iPhone sales as it has demands to meet, iPhone sales need to grow yearly to keep shareholders happy.

Apple could sell new iPhones either by providing users with their very first-ever smartphone, switching users over from competing brands or by getting current iPhone users to upgrade their smartphones.

The last strategy of making users upgrade hasn’t been successful in recent times, because the quality of iPhones have improved over time that they tend to last longer, making users more reluctant to upgrade.

The other two methods Apple can use to curb slowing smartphone sales; acquiring new smartphone users, or switching users over from competing brands have been more successful.

The number of people on the planet is limited, so Apple has to look for new customers in developing countries with growing economies and citizens in need of smartphones; countries like India, which as been a major concern for Apple in recent years.

The iPhone in India

India, home to 1.3 billion people, is on track to beat China and become the most populous country on the planet by the year 2024.

India’s economy is one bubbling with potential, her GDP is among the fastest-growing in the world and about 44 Indians get out of extreme poverty every minute.

The trajectory of people coming out of poverty has got American companies like Google, Uber, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon excited. India can now provide these companies with 1.3 billion potential customers; many of which are using the internet and computers for the first time.

Apple expansion

Apple has been fairly successful in its plans to expand to emerging markets like China, but even with India being one of the few regions which isn’t experiencing smartphone saturation, Apple hasn’t been doing so well.

In 2018, Apple lost 3 key Indian executives, failed to meet its annual revenue target in the region, and was hit by India’s high smartphone tariffs, it is clear that Apple has been struggling in the region and for some reasons.

The iPhone’s high price

In 2016, Apple’s brand new iPhone 7 started at $650, about a year later, the iPhone X’s starting price was $1000, a $350 price increase from the last year’s model.

Apple’s 2020 ‘budget’ smartphone, the iPhone 11 costs $50 more than the 2016 flagship iPhone 7.

Due to the drastic surge in the price of the iPhone, Apple has recorded an increase in profit, making up for slowing unit sales, but in India; a price-sensitive country, this strategy is backfiring.

75% of all smartphones sold in the region cost less than $250 and 95% cost less than 500, (according to intoindia blog dot com), thus putting Apple’s flagship phones in the ultra-premium, which Apple normally operates in. The premium smartphone market in the region is less than 5% of the total smartphone market, which just isn’t enough for Apple, as Oneplus was the best selling premium smartphone in India, in 2019.

Most smartphones that are sold in India are sold for about $200. Other popular smartphone brands have adapted, with Samsung launching its budget series Samsung Galaxy A and M series, and Xiaomi its Redmii series, both starting at as low as $150.

Because of this, Samsung, Vivo, and Xiaomi accounted for the majority of Indian smartphone sales garnering 16%, 17%, and 30% respectively, with Apple only owning about 2%.

Combining the high price of the iPhone with a GDP per capita of $2,171, its easy to see why Indians aren’t willing to pay so much for a phone that costs above a thousand dollars.

High import tariffs

Apple has a specific disadvantage in the Indian market because of the local regulations. There is a very high import duty on phones that are not manufactured locally in India. Because of tariffs and duty, most smartphone producers tend to produce their smartphones locally so they don’t have to pay that high import duty.

The Indian government puts a 20% tariff on smartphones manufactured in other parts of the world, this is to incentivize more foreign companies to manufacture domestically, help employ their large population, and boost their economy. Due to Indian tariffs, the $1000 iPhone X started at about $1400 and the $700 iPhone 11 at $852 in India.

Tim Cook’s visit to India

Despite Tim Cook’s visit to India seeking tariff reductions and promising to manufacture at some point in the future if allowed to sell in India, the Indian government not only refused the offer but also made it more difficult for Apple to sell in India.

Smartphone manufacturers like Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, and Samsung have either opened or invested in smartphone manufacturing plants in India to produce low-cost smartphones specifically tailored to the Indian market.

Apple is yet to do the same, as it only manufactures its lower-cost iPhone 6s and SE (2016).

The iPhones subpar software experience

The iPhone software experience still isn’t as good in India as it is in places like the US. The user software lacks a robust software experience, services like Apple Pay haven’t been launched in India. The user experience is still subpar, though Samsung Pay and Google Pay have been operating in the region for a while now.

Apple Maps has been lacking for the most part and just introduced turn by turn navigation in 2019. Siri has always had problems in the west, but it is worse in India. In India, maps has an extremely hard time understanding Indian accents. Well, boo-hoo — figure it out — or have Siri and Alexa figure it out for you?!

Why can Apple not see the potential of programming and updating software to bring satisfaction to billions of users in other countries? This point brings up an essential question. Why would Indian users pay higher for a product that lacks basic features that many of its competitors offer at a much lower price?

Lack of an official retail store

Also, there are no Apple stores in India, retail or online. Only authorized resellers are in India — that means it is impossible to buy directly if you live in India, and Indians who wish to purchase an Apple device are directed to a “where to buy” page on the Indian website. (Double-pay-middleman).

Apple simply can’t start building their retail store in India to sell the iPhone because they are limited by government restrictions that require foreign retailers to buy at least 30% of their materials from Indian vendors. Since Apple buys many of its components from other places in Asia — it doesn’t meet the requirements to open retail stores in India.

In India, most smartphones are sold in small roadside shops where the vendors don’t know the many advantages the iPhone has over its competitors. Roadside shops can’t educate customers looking for a new smartphone on the advantages the iPhone has over its competitors.

How Apple can fix the very real issues

Apple has always prioritized profit over market share, owning the largest slice of the market share has never been its goal. In India, where its market share is only two percent, Apple should be alarmed as it is losing out on millions, if not billions, of potential customers.

Acquiring brand new smartphone users is essential for Apple’s growth as existing users are more valuable in more ways than one. Customers purchase accessories like the Airpods, Apple Watch, and soon Apple AR glasses that boost all services. Any Apple product seeks to grow users by having them subscribe to Apple Music, iCloud, and Apple TV.

In order for Apple to increase the number of Indian users, it has to adapt to the region, it needs to open its stores, where it can educate customers on the features of the iPhone and advantages it has over other competitors.

To further boost sales, Apple can only get approval for its official retail stores by establishing a large manufacturing presence and sourcing as much of its hardware components from the region.

Apple also has to create a true budget smartphone tailored for the Indian market, that would be manufactured in India and sold only to developing countries with lower price points.

Apple recently tried this strategy with the $400 2020 iPhone SE, which is priced at 42,500 Rupees or about $560 in the region. However, this price is still higher than the majority of smartphones sold in the region — and Apple needs to build its brand in the region.

There are more issues than an iPhone

Apart from hardware, there are other things Apple needs to consider. The Apple software is mostly lacking in India so Apple will need to improve other services in the region, such as its Maps services, Virtual Assistant; Siri, launch, and Apple Pay. The Indian market is well versed in the software aspect, so Apple may want to include software designed specifically for the Indian market.

Conclusion

In order for Apple to expand into the Indian market, it needs to change its strategy and tailor it for the Indian market. Apple will want to produce locally manufactured devices sold at an affordable price tag — with improved features.

Until they do so, their competitors will continue to make more useful and appealing devices, with features and a cheaper price point.

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AI customer AI Customer Service IT

Customer Experience AI Isn’t an IT Project

customer experience

The global pandemic has illuminated many shortcomings of business today. One example is the lack of infrastructure to seamlessly provide world-class customer experience and give prospects the necessary information — like receiving healthcare, paying bills, securing or altering travel and more.

But interest and adoption of on-demand experiences are rising as it’s proven to have near-double digit sales lifts. However, incorporating new technology is a process involving many moving pieces. The IT department often leads these types of initiatives, but have they been the gatekeeper too long? 

While it may sound counterintuitive at first, IT shouldn’t own user experiences. Despite a smooth implementation and the abundance of customer data available, initiatives like conversational experiences that facilitate on-demand engagement fail because of misplaced department priorities. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Especially today, customers want to engage with your brand. They just need to be able to do it on their own time and terms, not waiting hours in a queue to speak with a call-center rep. AI can meet this need head-on, giving everyone time back in their day to focus on what matters.

Alignment of Business Outcomes and Priorities 

When speaking on the importance of a technology’s features and capabilities, IT and customer experience teams will have different perspectives and goals.

While IT might obsess over the natural language understanding (NLU) intricacies or backend integrations, customer experience leads will tie in their own business problems and practical outcomes for success.

While both parties are focused on accessible data and insights, customer experience teams are more keenly aware of the importance of personalization because they see the role it plays in fostering meaningful engagements.

Additionally, investment in technology often begs the question, should this solution be built or bought?

Those companies that can build technology are an elite group, as there is a vast field of knowledge required to build a user experience that works — which is why companies often resort to partners and third-party providers.

But this is not without its hiccups. Vendors still need to understand design, and content to make on-demand experiences seamless and relevant. 

For a guiding light: Solve user pain points and enable effortless experiences. Without this, teams may run in circles and lose ROI because of technical tangents and playthings.

Deploy Technology on Use Cases that Matter

It’s common for AI to go through “practice runs� with proof of concepts or pilots. Unfortunately, these rarely make the cut for high-quality outputs.

Often, these runs don’t face the unique complexities of real-world engagement, like curveball, unrelated or multi-faceted questions from users. Practically speaking, the success of AI completing just a single-task is hardly going to be worth the time and cost investment.

For on-demand conversations, practicality is key. Only when stakeholders and customer teams see AI deliver a wide-scope, will everyone think bigger about what is possible. 

It’s not that IT, sales, marketing or experience teams want to hinder a business outcome. Everyone simply has their own goals on their shoulders and this reality muddies the water.

When customer satisfaction, revenue generation, and reduced costs are the goals of experience design, the company is much more likely to see the business impact. 

UX is the Driving Force 

The next couple of years will yield mixed results for conversational AI deployment.

Many companies are placing too much weight on their IT team and pushing UX experts to the wayside.

A brighter future exists for brands that empower their experience teams to lead deployments. This shift will create a true competitive advantage and provide the on-demand experiences customers expect.

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