Developments in technology and new business trends such as social networking and mobility have all resulted to make the customer king within the mobile-first, cloud-first era, writes Leon Wright, cloud & enterprise business group lead at Microsoft South Africa.

Customers now have access to more information than ever before, enabling them to compare offerings and services not only from local businesses, but from retailers around the world – allowing them to have their purchases delivered to their door, from anywhere.

Moreover, technology-empowered customers now also have the ability to make or break a company’s reputation through social media, with bad reviews and customer experiences always possessing an innate ability to gain momentum and go viral over social networking sites.

Customers expect to have their grievances immediately addressed over social media, to be able to go into retail stores to get a sense of the quality of products, but also to enjoy the flexibility to order these online or via an app and have it delivered to them wherever they are. These changes in expectations and behaviour of customers are occurring at a much quicker rate than the evolution of business models, operational processes, and technology platforms used by businesses to serve their customers.

To account for the differences in evolutional pace, companies are adopting new technology and software platforms to assist them in delivering more compelling customer experiences and streamlining their organisations.


Using technology to become more customer-centric

By upgrading to Windows Server 2012 R2 and Office 365, employees will be empowered to work from anywhere and communicate with partners, suppliers, and customers anytime, while using any device.

This helps decrease response times and provides a boost to agility, mobility, on-demand scalability, and delivers the capability to staff to utilise real-time data insights to get to know their customers better to be in a position to deliver a more personalised experience and to better inform business decisions and strategies.

Reliance Life Insurance Company wanted to provide a consistently great customer service from all customer touch-points ranging from remote and metropolitan branches through to the call centre. The company employed Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 to consolidate customer and agent data within the same database onto a single screen and therefore facilitating faster responses by agents.

Ultimately, this move positively impacted upon customer retention, while improving the productivity and efficiency of staff. Claim processing also experienced significant increases in efficiency as turnaround time decreased from seven to five days, which in turn resulted in more reinvestment opportunities for the business.


Smarter IT leads to happier customers

South African Airways (SAA) addressed rising costs and rapidly evolving markets through investments in IT infrastructure by utilising Windows Server 2012 R2 and Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 to create a private cloud and retire hundreds of physical servers. This resulted in the company reducing IT costs by a whopping $2,5-million (more than R30-million).

This newly found data centre agility also translated into greater business agility, as SAA was able to launch promotions, introduce new productivity-boosting technologies, and create new customer services far more quickly by speeding the delivery of underlying IT infrastructure.

If companies want to be in a position to meet customer demands in the digital era, they can do this by investing in technology that simplifies their back-end systems, streamlines business processes, and establishes an experience-centric software platform.



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