Adapting to the Digital Customer...

01 Oct 16

You are at the airport for your scheduled flight and your smartphone beeps [Flight Number] Departure Time Changed To [A Time Other than your Scheduled Departure Time]. If you are lucky, you get one beep and then take off with a slight delay. If you are not so lucky as I was in a very recent experience, the beeps keep coming until the delay is so late that the final beep states flight changed to the next morning; the airline gives you room and board to return to the airport the next morning. Very little information is provided about what is actually going on the employees are dealing with frustrated customers looking for answers. I am sure some of you have been in this situation and experienced the frustration as a customer. Scheduled to depart at 10:45 PM on a 9 hour flight which was delayed to 9:40 AM the next day in a city that is not my home city (so I could not just go home) had me beyond frustrated. Did I just sit there frustrated and irritated? No. I had my handy dandy smartphone and instantly googled the airline to see if they were in the news to see if this was a singe instance or something else happening. I read a few articles posted regarding a major IT cutover occurring within the organization the day I was travelling that may cause hiccups in passenger plans, put 2 and 2 together to make a 4 that screams this is what happened a cutover gone wrong. Given the facts available and the inability of the staff to provide me answers, I arrived at my own answers. This is the behavior of todays digital customers gone are the days of customers who deal with the blows given to them by service providers waiting for days to read about what may have happened in newspapers that will provide details long after it is all said and done. If not in a flight situation, I am sure many of you have done something similar when stuck in freeway closures or traffic delays. Organizations spend millions to improve the digital experience of their customers giving them smart apps to check in online, change seats, provide arrival information, track bags, and many other features. However, many are failing to provide the same level of service to their employees and those employees are the face of their organization. I saw employees with no answers on what caused the delay, dialing phones to talk to hotels about availability as customers wait in a queue for their hotel assignments, struggling to find a new crew due to the large delay in the original flight time, and many other issues. Imagine the direct impact you can have on your customers by improving your employee experience - employees having handy apps that are educating them on what is causing the delay so they can effectively communicate to customers, being able to book hotels for customers through those apps instead of spending 5-10 minutes a customer holding on for the hotel to answer, or even staff close by being able to voluntarily sign up to be the backup crew. Things go wrong but how that is handled can have a huge impact on your customer experience and the people that are directly impacting your customers are your customer-facing employees. If your employees dont have the answers, your customers will find their own answers as I did in my not so pleasant situation. To satisfy the expectations of digital customers, you must empower digital employees and this is where many organizations fail to make the connection. They look at employee needs as internal facing applications that are increasing cost and not providing enough return on investment and move towards spending all their money on customer facing applications. Asia Today has seen a lot of success from readers who prefer a physical newspaper to hold on to with their morning cup of chai or coffee. While we will continue to cater to that demand and continue to have printed publications available at all South Asian businesses in the valley and mailed to homes free of cost as requested, we recognize the need to adapt to our digital customers and have diligently been working behind the scenes to cater to the digital audience in addition to our existing reader base. In the coming months, you will see a complete redesign of our web presence www.asiatodayaz.com, as well as the ability for advertisers to advertise both in our print and digital presence. Recognizing the delicate relationship between digital customers and digital employees, we have also invested in additional changes not visible to our readers that will still have a direct impact on them - redesign of our administrative capabilities to quickly and easily deliver content digitally. Last, but not least, you will see us leverage social media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook to add to that enhanced experience. Our own special column, Chai With, has already been transformed from just being a print interview into a print interview combined with a video interview that can be found on our Facebook site. If you are not already, please like and follow our page https://www.facebook.com/AsiaToday to take advantage of these upcoming changes. You can also visit us at the Information Booth at our 6th Annual Diwali Mela on October 22, 2016 from Noon to 9:30 PM at Kiwanis Park North Soccer Field in Tempe, AZ to learn more about these changes and enjoy the Diwali festivities including amazing food, shopping, local performances, an outdoor, under-the-sky dance party with live Sa Re Ga Ma Pa singers Imran Ali and Darshana Menon + our very own DJ Isaac from 6:30-9:30 PM. Thank you Arizona for your continued support year after year. We are very excited about the upcoming changes and the opportunity to continue to serve you in the coming years. Looking forward to seeing you at the Diwali Mela you dont want to miss this. It will be another great event! -Deepa Kaur Walia Editor, Asia Today, editor@asiatodayaz.com