Click, deliver, repeat: Covid-19 and the subscription economy

Martin Taylor, deputy CEO and co-founder at Content Guru, discusses how companies can succeed in this new subscription economy.

Even before Covid-19, the subscription economy was growing exponentially – 300% between 2012 and 2018 to be exact. There are few products you can’t get as a service now – from movies to music, groceries to cars, consumers are increasingly opting out of traditional ‘one time’ purchases and are looking to instigate long-term trade relationships with brands that they know and trust.

Now, in the context of a worldwide pandemic, where stockpiling left supermarket shelves bare and consumers worried about being able to buy what they needed in the eventuality of having to self-isolate, the popularity of the subscription e-commerce market is likely to grow even faster. With subscription shopping, these issues and concerns can be easily avoided. It offers a convenient and low-cost way to automate the repeat purchase of commodity items that need replenishing on a regular basis, all without having to leave your house.

On the flip side to this is that consumers are very quick to cancel services that don’t deliver a superior experience: in fact, 78% of customers will back out of a purchase due to a poor customer experience and directly put money in the pocket of competitors’ businesses. It’s clear, therefore, that delivering excellent customer service should be a top priority.

Nurturing long-term relationships that last past the lockdown

Companies that want to succeed in this new subscription economy will need a comprehensive understanding of how to nurture long-term customer relationships and consistently deliver against high expectations. This requires a new way of thinking and working that goes beyond simply concentrating on the ‘product’ or the ‘transaction’ alone: to thrive and survive in the subscription economy, companies need to invest in meeting changing customer demands as smoothly and effectively as possible, particularly in the current climate. Staying close to customers depends on building closer connections and long-term engagement that boosts retention rates and minimises churn rates.

Efficient channel-hopping not only reserved for the TV

Organisations that are at the forefront of today’s subscription economy are harnessing advanced technologies like artificial-intelligence (AI) powered chatbots and natural language processing (NLP) to create well-sequenced customer journeys and end-to-end experiences that are characterised by impressive speed, agility, efficiency and precision.

By establishing a genuine omnichannel perspective, they’re able to adopt a truly customer-centric approach and generate the insights needed to deliver outstanding experiences at every stage of the purchasing journey. In seamlessly integrating all their channels, they make it easy for customers to move across multiple touchpoints, sign-up for subscriptions, and use digital self-service channels to access support and help when they need it.

An easy, breezy experience

More satisfied customers are less likely to churn, have fewer issues that escalate into calls, and are more likely to sign up for more products. It is therefore no wonder that an omnichannel contact centre that deploys AI, working hand-in-hand with human agents, is becoming critical for delivering the intelligent and contextualised assistance that today’s service-driven consumers demand.

In recent years, the evolution of the chatbot, thanks to advanced new conversational user interfaces, has made it much easier for customers to track orders, receive advice and product recommendations, or escalate their conversation to a human agent for more complex issues. With an instant update on the entire customer conversation and history, contact centre personnel are able to seamlessly take over from the virtual assistant.

Similarly, NLP is now providing unprecedented insights into how a customer is feeling and the nature of their issue. This game-changing technology extracts contextual understanding from tone of voice, key words, and sentiment expressed to generate a much deeper picture of the caller and predict their future actions. With this information, customers can be routed to the agent or department best equipped to handle these types of conversations and solve issues quickly.

Ensuring orders are repeat, not just a one-off

It is vitally important that businesses hoping to make the most of the subscription e-commerce market ensure their customer engagement strategy matches changing consumer expectations. To do this, they must implement consistent, successful and tailored journeys across their entire customer base. Today’s sophisticated customer engagement technologies make this a possibility, helping to keep operations running smoothly throughout the pandemic and beyond.

 

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