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Design digital experiences to entice and retain customers

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The digital world is a noisy one, with many voices competing for your attention and focus. And like in any buyer’s market, the balance of power, choice and selection has veered in favour of the end-user. Consumers are empowered to search for information and reviews on products and services, as well as on their social networks, where they ask their peers for advice on the best products or services to meet their needs. A huge power shift has taken place.
Often, well-informed customers now only venture into a retail store to see and feel the quality of a product, before buying it online from the comfort of their living rooms. This demonstrates the need for businesses to focus more on superior digital and mobile customer experiences than ever before. In order to succeed in the changing dynamics of a digitally driven business environment, businesses have to optimise their customer experience across all channels and devices.
To enable this experience, businesses need the right software partner to help them connect every customer interaction across all the relevant channels and ultimately help them to drive their online and mobile conversion and customer retention, effectively and efficiently.
Manoj Bhoola, chief customer officer at SAP Africa, comments: “The time has long passed when having a good user experience (UX) is seen as a nice-to-have. The digital era has seen it become a critical part of a user’s expectations. To respond to this demand, SAP Africa is offering an innovative portfolio of software design services that leverage proven simple methodologies, ranging from strategy to implementation. These are all proven to improve user efficiency, effectiveness and satisfaction.
“With the power having shifted into the hands of the consumer, back-end technology systems need to better understand users’ requirements.  Things like data warehouses that provide intelligent statistics from numerous sources on-the-fly to assist the user make a decision become invaluable.  Imagine a vegan online retail shopper is met with specials on their meat products, when going online for example.  Would that shopper still continue shopping on that site? I think not.”
Bhoola adds: “Future businesses need to invest in their back-end technology strategy and create a platform that can provide this type of information to ensure ongoing high levels of customer satisfaction and retention.  Data warehouses of the future need to be built using robust technology that is agile and integrates directly into the existing core solutions.”

Refreshing B2B customer experience
An example of a company maximising the user experience for its customers is a global soft-drinks manufacturer, which will soon be opening a web shop to bring the advantage of online shopping to customers ordering beverages in a range of different countries and environments. Traditionally, the company ran several call centres for customers ordering by phone, with business developers serving their customers as regional selling agents. The company wanted an additional sales channel: a web shop which would allow customers to place orders directly online.
The primarily challenge was to ensure customer acceptance of the new web shop and for this to happen, the task of ordering items needed to be both easy and convenient. The conglomerate in question approached SAP to observe and interview the target group in order to determine their specific needs and requirements. Following analyses of all the field research, the large volume of resulting data was used to create software user personas and user stories that described the company’s typical customers. With the help of these basic findings, the system designers can now simply create wireframes of the online shop, review designs with customers, and then instantly create mock-ups of products according to customer specifications.
“What this project illustrated was that companies need to fully understand the needs of their users before going on to match these needs to the right UX strategy. By undertaking this thoughtfully, innovative companies will be empowered to impress customers across channels and multiple points of customer engagement and provide a boost to customer loyalty.”
If companies offer value-added services, they are more likely to cultivate strong customer loyalty by providing a competitive advantage. By utilising modern technology, retailers are now offering unique value-added services to transform shopping into an easy comprehensive, enjoyable experience.
“Big data has become a buzz word in recent times. Very few organisations fully understand the benefits of this trend. A B2B transaction experience needs ensure data is pulled from many different sources and up-to-date data and analysis is vital.  Imagine a production line that is dependent on stock from a third-party supplier.  If the third-party data is not current, huge implications will occur within the production line.  Businesses cannot afford to have incorrect or out-dated data driving real-time production systems,” Bhoola says.