The changing landscape of consumer experience

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The changing landscape of consumer experience
Incorporating technology into a brand's services will better consumer experience.

Dubai - Are you doing a good job in making your customers feel good about your brand? Here are some tips

By Jagannath Narendran

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Published: Wed 27 Sep 2017, 9:53 PM

Last updated: Wed 27 Sep 2017, 11:55 PM

For centuries, the Middle East has been a land of opportunities, playing a critical role in the growth of global economy. From being a hub connecting west to east, to being a key producer of oil, thus fuelling economic growth for a century, the Middle East has been at the centre of not just the map, but of economies as well. We see an inherent sense of business in its communities, nurtured over generations, which has made the region as one of the fastest growing regions in the world and as a favored destination, for enterprises and working professionals alike. With one of the highest per capita income, residents here are aware, affluent and well-travelled, placing the region as a key target market for enterprises across industries ranging from airlines, healthcare, energy, FMCG, to even technology and more.
With global brands cementing their position in this consumer rich market, the region has emerged as one of the fastest growing consumer markets. Today, developments in the world market are very clearly reflected in the Middle East such as the shift from consumer satisfaction to consumer experience (CX) as a focal point of business. There is a marked repositioning of business strategies towards CX in the region by both the supply and demand forces. Many people define CX differently but simply put, it is the totality of a consumer's feeling towards your brand over a considerable duration of time. It is also the barometer of the importance of the consumer and his needs. The factors defining these changes, and what can be expected in coming days can be summarised as follows.
 
The advent of millennials
With the millennial generation and the consumer-driven market, brands are also looking to incorporate technology into their services to provide a better consumer experience. There is a direct correlation between the adoption of technology and CX, which is no longer relegated to theory and strategy but is seeing a more practical manifestation in the technologies being adopted by brands.
 
Social factors
The Middle East has a unique yet diverse social system with each country having similarity, yet distinctness in their culture and social background. But the key is the way they all are connected and impacting each other. Development in one country impacts other countries in a short span. In such scenario, if there is a shift in consumer expectation of one country, there is a quick change of demand from other markets as well. What differs is the adoption timeline.
 
Government's critical thrust
Today, across the Middle East, governments are proactively inviting businesses from across the world to establish and set up in the region. Recently, some governments have taken specific steps to make adoption and implementation of technological developments easier for enterprises. Enterprises too have respectfully accepted the region's sensitivities and requirements and making the local language and culture as part of their strategy as well as supporting government's aim of providing employment for the region's youth.
 
Consumer's expectations
The Middle East consumer base is aware and demanding. With the rise of information and ease of availability and exposure, they are not willing to settle for anything less than the best. Global brands have well understood that to succeed in this region, they have to indulge the Middle Est consumer with utmost care. Companies in this region are going an extra mile when it comes to adopting technologies to meet consumer expectations. This creates a fair amount of pressure on the brands operating in the Middle East. To execute consumer experience driven strategy there must be right technology to back all the processes. Unfortunately, most of the technologies are advanced in the developed countries and are adopted by other countries eventually.
 
Impact of social media
This region is one of the fastest adopters of social media, with industry experts stating that 88 per cent of the region's population use social media on a daily basis. While the statistics include both personal and business uses, it is needless to say that adoption of new engaging platforms by consumers can create newer challenges for the enterprises who wish to engage consumers on their platforms preferred by the consumer. And this has led to evolvement of CX strategy which now is inclusive of social media in a big way.
 
Next big thing in the Middle East
A very specific trend that has the potential to be a revolutionary change across the globe is the emergence and acceptance of Bot. These are automated response machines that help in engaging a consumer, which is a critical element of CX. These bots can be 'taught' responses to general queries and complaints to save time and resources which could be over voice or text. The seeds of this revolution are already being sown in the market with many businesses realising that relevance and optimality of a bot-agent partnership.
The writer is senior vice-president for Asia and the Middle East at Aspect Software. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.



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