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Experts say the most effective CX is when technology and customisation are applied in the right areas

Kaveri Nandan

The world has changed radically, and so has customer behaviour. This has created many opportunities for businesses to adapt and respond to these changes in the post-pandemic world. The retail market is going through explosive growth and the organised retail market is showing great promise. This is keeping large and small brands busy as they do their best to reach out to consumers. The magic word for customer experience today is omnichannel. How can businesses deliver an effective  omnichannel approach in the post pandemic world? Industry experts discuss their perspectives at the virtual discussion titled- Zendesk-Economic Times Retail Nxt: The Future of CX.

“We have reached a stage of ‘digital- first, virtual every day’. Customers’ first step into the journey is digital,” said KT Prasad, MD & RVP India and SAARC, Zendesk.  “Therefore, it is important to first define the ideal customer journey. “Technology is just one of the tools available. If you map out the customer journey, the rest of the pieces will fall in place even if there are changes to be made,” said Prasad.

Companies in all sectors are beginning to understand the role of catering to all categories of customers. “Even retail categories such as apparel, grocery and jewellery are pushing forward their omnichannel approach. This is being done right from defining strategy to implementation. Some of the companies that have done this right are seeing as much as 30% of sales coming from
omnichannel. It is very important to focus on customer segmentation and the experience they want even in digital mediums,” said Vivette D’cruz, Senior Director-Retail and Consumer Products Practice, EY.

For the omnichannel approach to be successful, a seamless information input is critical. “Most retailers are struggling with legacy systems. Till now they did not focus on how to engage with customers in multiple ways. There needs to be seamless cross-integration between offline and online. The system you create should have the ability to roll out dynamic content and experience for the customer. The tech stack should be able to personalise. Beyond a point, a plug- and- play system will not be able to customise,” said Amarnath Roy, Senior VP and Head-Omnichannel, Metro Cash & Carry India.

Technology can be the enabler in making omnichannel not only possible but also effective. “In a month, the telco does about `5,000 crore in revenue. Almost `3,000 crore of that flows through online; that’s a staggering 60%. In 2018 we were probably half of that. All the data from all our touch points is centralised. All our front line people have a One Airtel dashboard, which gives them customer intelligence with enough privacy controls. This is powered by AI in the back end and the same central system can power the offline segment of omnichannel,” said Adarsh Nair, Chief Product & Experience Officer, Bharti Airtel and CEO, Airtel Digital.

However, technology is only as good as the use it is put to. “Only if you read and understand the data can you manage to have a human touch. Technology, background, software etc. are secondary. Don’t use the tool in hand blindly. Access and tracking history have kept corner stores in business. That kind of data is the real currency and if it can be managed properly, a business can launch its digital journey whenever it wants to,” said Aman Thakral, Business Head, Target Integration.

“We scaled up our presence in omnichannel through marketplaces and by upgrading our website. We also looked at our back end operations to ensure they were stitched together across teams. In the past few months, digital revenue has grown from 5% to 15%,” said Anand Narang, VP, Marketing and Consumer Experience, Bata India . “Our future journey in omnichannel is to offer more personalisation, more conversation and collaboration,” he added.

Customisation based on customer segment or need is important to ensure that the correct solutions are identified and that they reach the right segment of users. “In the food segment, we can have AI and data-driven decisions, but at the floor level that is limited. So, we started offering recipe-based solutions to customers. They can order with us via the app or a phone call. The frequency of shoppers through these two mediums has doubled,” shared Aniruddha Banerjee, Chief Sales Officer, Spencer’s Retail.

In conclusion, for an effective omnichannel approach, get a clear understanding of what you are solving from the customer’s perspective. Also, start with key areas and launch from there. Prioritise with the customer as the starting point.

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