Silver linings: How kiwi businesses are offering new customer experiences

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Cat Mules

Few of us are immune to the effects of Covid-19. As we tough it out and find new ways to unlock our economy it is important to think about how we might improve our customers' virtual experiences with ‘the human touch’.

Not since the Great Depression has such a severe economic downturn been felt. The implications for New Zealand businesses, Auckland Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett says, will be  “destructive and confusing”.

Even though the immediate industries affected were the traditional ones, ones that require foot or air traffic – such as tourism, hospitality and leisure; nearly all areas of commerce will inevitably be affected –  leading to a nervous nationwide wait, cost cutting measures, and possibly another wave of redundancies.

Many New Zealand businesses lack strategic approaches to digital sales. The Digital Council says “many businesses still lack the digital skills and capability they need for e-commmerce, as well as wider business strategy to make the most of e-commerce opportunities”. Their advice is that businesses prioritise this in order to thrive.

Yet revitalisation is occurring, too. Businesses are focusing on their stakeholder engagement strategy in parallel with their online and IT resilience, and customers are supporting more online New Zealand businesses.

Here are some suggestions improved online customer experience is helping many businesses hold their head above water, and revitalise their business models.

Be online

Ask, how can I meet my customers where they are?

Waiting for customers to find product or services simply doesn’t work anymore. It is essential to have online offerings in order for your business to be seen, heard and noticed. This has been especially the case during the coronavirus pandemic: the businesses who don’t have an online presence have suffered.

Supporting this, the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand (‘The Digital Council’) says “Consumers… are primarily motivated by convenience, choice and price”

Being online itself is not enough though. A focused customer strategy and mechanisms to fulfil customer needs is key. For example, add self-service options to your online brand so that customers to get reliable answers without waiting.

Building trust with customers requires fast, accurate and, above all, consistent responses to their questions. It has always been important but is now vital given the locked down global economy.

Look after your most loyal supporters

Loyal customers are those who rate your brand above others; they look to you because your values and offerings resonate with them, and they’re typically the ones you’ve invested time into building a long-standing relationship with.

Auckland’s Hammerton Therapeutics is deepening their relationship with their community by providing virtual education on simple massage techniques – via Instagram.


Speak to the familiar

Customers are struggling to adapt to the realities of lockdown, too, and craving the familiarity of their local brands.

The hospitality chains that are winning are bringing at home meals to your door, contactlessly. Aucklanders can get their favourite delux beer from HallertauFrench Meal Kits from Paris Butter, or wood-fired pizzas from Lilian. Wellingtonians can order from Pandemic Pack – a collab of restaurants, including Leeds Street Bakery and La Boca Loca, who have banded together.

Restaurant chains are not letting the pandemic stop them from delivering high-quality food that represents their unique brand flavour.

Responsiveness can be programmed, too. Bella, Soul Machines’ digital helper, provides New Zealanders with easily understandable, timely and – maybe (or maybe not) most critically, friendly information that is ‘distinctly kiwi’, build to respond to the nuances of the culture and population. Talk with Bella here.

Linking with lifestyle

Interactivity is an evolving feature of virtual life, and customers want to feel part of something big. They want technology that is easy to use and improves their lives. This opens up the range of customer touchpoints considerably, and companies are successfully deepening and broadening their offerings in lifestyle, without asking the customer to leave their home.

Les Mills’ free-to-air workouts, for example, provides physical and mental support with free and easy-to—access exercise options –with the instructor at a virtual arms reach for that extra motivation.

Virtual exercise classes when done right are a way to continue business for gyms and professional trainers. Credit: Les Mills.

Build digital into your strategy

The digital store front is more important than it has ever been before, yet customer experience should always be situated within a wider business strategy. A deep look at data, e-commerce and technology approaches are proving to be key to future profitably – and meeting customer demand, not just now but in the future too.

Business continuity comes first and within this recovery also depends in part on adaptiveness and willingness to future-proof, via a business approach that builds in customer responsiveness.

Luckily, New Zealand has a history of strength and ingenuity. COVID-19 may open up new opportunities for innovation that could be the momentum behind the New Zealand economy for the future.


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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

Data, AI, BI & ML

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Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the terms of computer science. Artificial Intelligence : The word Artificial Intelligence comprises of two words “Artificial” and “Intelligence”. Artificial refers to something which is made by human or non natural thing and Intelligence means ability to understand or think. There is a misconception that Artificial Intelligence is a system, but it is not a system. AI is implemented in the system. There can be so many definition of AI, one definition can be “It is the study of how to train the computers so that computers can do things which at present human can do better.” Therefore it is an intelligence where we want to add all the capabilities to machine that human contain. Machine Learning : Machine Learning is the learning in which machine can learn by its own without being explicitly programmed. It is an application of AI that provide system the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience. Here we can generate a program by integrating input and output of that program. One of the simple definition of the Machine Learning is “Machine Learning is said to learn from experience E w.r.t some class of task T and a performance measure P if learners performance at the task in the class as measured by P improves with experiences.”

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