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L’Oréal made an inspired move when it launched ‘Makeup Genius’—an app that let women try out L’Oréal’s cosmetics by converting their smartphone cameras into a kind of virtual mirror backed by augmented reality. What made this more exciting was not just that they could share these images of their new looks on Facebook, but also that they could simply click to purchase the product they had tried on through L’Oréal’s linkup with an e-commerce platform, Priceline.

This is a great example of how technology innovations can offer an integrated customer experience. Today’s average customer is digitally connected and can access the information they seek at their fingertips. This connectedness offers several possibilities to businesses—new ways and channels to keep their customers engaged. Making use of these possibilities to cultivate consistent customer interactions can help businesses to improve their offering and strengthen brand loyalty.

A smorgasbord of technology conduits

The average customer uses multiple digital platforms, and providing touchpoints to help them interact with your business can positively influence their perspective and experience. This includes everything from various social media platforms, messaging platforms on social networks, mobile technology, smartphone apps, chatbots and virtual assistants, and automated customer services. These digital innovations are helping businesses stay connected with consumers through different stages of their experience—be it research and evaluation, purchase, delivery, consumption, or post-delivery, and usage. What organizations need to do well is to arrive at the right mix of channels and modes to engage customers, in keeping with their brand and their product/service, and the demographics of their customers. This must resonate with the brand image and values of the business and the typical expectations that customers have of it.

Technology tools enable not only multiple touch points but also reduce the time and effort that customers require at various stages of their experience. It is therefore very important for businesses to ensure that the customer’s experience across multiple touch points is seamless by integrating the channels. For organizations designing such an omnichannel strategy, it is also an opportunity to simultaneously build a distinctive digital identity and voice—one that their customers can identify with and feel connected to, across various platforms.

I believe what will really elevate such an attempt at omnichannel customer engagement is to set up every touchpoint so as to have the capability for service—whether it is through embedded support, context-sensitive responses, quick resolution options, supported self-service, or customized options, relevant inputs, and conveniently minimized actions.

Technology has got your back

Business growth in the future will be strongly influenced by the depth and reach of such omnichannel customer engagement. Technology is also ensuring that they are successful guided expeditions.

The benefits of data: While there are multiple conduits in an omnichannel strategy, each becomes a source of data on the customer. Big data analytics allows for a constant stream of information and insights on customer preferences, habits, and behaviors. This can not only help companies understand customers better, but also help develop products accordingly. Personalization is another key aspect of this customer experience. It is not just enough to reach customers in multiple ways, but it is also equally important to ensure that each such interaction is tailored to be effective, satisfying, and result-oriented. And data and analytics can facilitate such personalized interactions. Amazon, for instance, demonstrates this when it customizes its “recommendations” based on products you have been searching for—if you have been browsing for leather bags, Amazon would recommend to you more types and brands of leather bags. Thanks to this engagement strategy, in 2015 44% of consumers began their search for products on Amazon.
Efficient measurement: Further, it is possible to measure customer engagement along such technology channels with specific metrics to get the effort right. For instance, if time is a metric for customers on a portal, one can measure the time they spent on the entire process, the stages that took longer, those that needed improvements, the steps that could have been streamlined, and the touchpoints where the customer liked to spend time. Regular and effective monitoring and measurement of channels can strengthen customer engagement.
Reinforcing the technology framework to offer the best customer experience also means that businesses need to integrate their data, information, and systems behind the scenes, and ensure that the physical and digital realms are integrated. When this is done right, not only can customers easily jump between different touchpoints and minimize their actions businesses can also streamline operations and maximize what they derive from a customer’s journey.

Successful customer engagement has always been about keeping the customer’s interest through the highest levels of service. The same principles are important when designing a technology-led customer engagement strategy. Whether you are interacting with your customers via two touchpoints or with twenty, every single one of them should speak in a consistent brand voice and should be service-centered. Customers are bound to reward personalized service with positive feedback and loyalty.

Upinder Zutshi

Upinder Zutshi as Managing Director & CEO of Infinite is a very unconventional leader, and has nurtured the growth of infinite with a very hands-on-approach. With his remarkable leadership, Upinder has defined the strategic direction of the Company, making Infinite’s revenue grow above industry average. He has been instrumental in setting the vision for Infinite to be positioned as a Global Service Provider and moving the Company up the value chain by focusing on differentiated services and product based offerings in a non-conventional engagement and business models.

Under Upinder’s leadership, Infinite has grown to be in the Nasscom Top 20 IT providers in India with a revenue of US$ 255 Million in FY 2013; 5000+ employees worldwide, been named as Top 5 employers in India by Dataquest – IDC, Forbes Asia 200 Best Under a Billion Company in 2012; Top 10 Global Telecom Outsourcing Providers by IAOP and has been recognized as technology thought leaders in the emerging areas like mobility, messaging and analytics. He spearheaded the IPO of Infinite, which was one of the most successful IPOs in 2010, with a historic opening where it was over-subscribed manifold in a stock market where the giants were struggling through a global economic-crisis.

Upinder has over 28 years of experience in initiating and establishing startups and building an efficient management team under his guidance. His empathetic style makes him a very popular leader amongst the young and dynamic employees of Infinite. His leadership style encourages entrepreneurial culture that is goals driven, based on respect for people, freedom of thought, expression and action along with globalized business processes, practices and organizational structure that help create transparency and drive accountability within Infinite globally. Upinder realized early on that the company needed a winning team to make the Infinite vision a reality. His leadership is evident in the progressive work environment at Infinite, where qualified and experienced people bring depth and maturity while retaining focus on flexibility, innovation and integrity which are the core elements of the entrepreneurial DNA of the organization.

In his formative years, he has worked extensively in US, Europe, Middle East and India, with reputed companies holding key leadership positions. A greater part of his career, post his first job at CMC Limited, has included experience in building early stage companies, setting-up start-up ventures and developing them into growth organizations. Prior to joining Infinite, Upinder was, for a period of six years, the Chief Executive Officer of Velocient Technologies Inc., a digital consulting & IT services company in the US. For five years preceding this, he was the co-founder and Vice President at Eastern Software Systems (ESS) Ltd., a leading software products and IT services company and was responsible for setting up and running the middle-eastern operations of the company. Upinder started his career with CMC Ltd., where he spent eight years holding various functions in sales, marketing and program management.

Upinder holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from the Birla Institute of Technology & Sciences (BITS), Pilani. He is an avid golfer and a photographer.

Blogs by Upinder Zutshi