As private sector firms expand their use of e-commerce platforms and other technology, industry experts have advised that customer satisfaction should remain a priority.
This was part of the advice shared with the business community during the recent Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) virtual digital conference, held under the theme. Executive Mindset: Evolved Thinking for Business Leaders.
Director of Artificial Intelligence, Automation and Analytics at Incus Services, Leslie Lee Fook said using data analytics to understand customers’ behaviour is more important now than ever to help improve the customer experience while improving the bottom-line as well.
“Big data can be used to generate revenue, make better decisions and generally make people’s lives better,” he told the online forum.
The Trinidad-based technology consultant said the closure of some businesses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a wake-up call for local and regional firms that are slow to evolve.
Adding that the level of technological advancements witnessed this year was equivalent to seven years of transformation, Lee Fook said “today’s reality reflects what we predicted for the year 2027”.
“These are defining times for executives. Organisations are having their profits eroded overnight by companies that did not exist 10 years ago. Customers are demanding higher levels of service and convenience. Every organisation is being forced to reinvent itself and become a technology company just to survive. Today’s executives are being asked to learn and speak tech so they can innovate and change business outcomes,” he said.
Stressing that data, artificial intelligence and analytics could create tremendous opportunity for businesses, Lee Fook said he was not satisfied the region was spending enough time becoming data literate.
“Most people don’t have analytics because they think it is too hard and too costly. Many spend more than 80 per cent of their time trying to create Excel reports and less than 20 per cent of their time analysing the results. We focus on the how to . . . and not the whys – ‘why am I losing customers, why is my business failing?’,” he said.
“After this fourth industrial revolution, there will be one Caribbean or there will be no Caribbean. We can choose to be the victims or victor of technology, as competing on sand and sea or oil and gas only are no longer options,” Lee Fook warned.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer and founder of eBanqo Inc., Charles Ifedi advised companies to start thinking about their services that can be automated. He pointed out that the needs of customers continued to evolve and they were seeking more seamless transactions.
“How can we take some of those services we provide to our customers and make it possible for them to enjoy those same services from web and mobile and other channels, and not just continually having to meet a person face-to-face?” Ifedi said.
“The first thing of seamless is changing our mindset to make sure that we begin to automate our services. For those that deliver physical goods and food, there are several areas of seamless transactions that you have to think about – delivery, drive-thru or curbside pick-up – so that same idea of moving away from physical face-to-face contact in any area of our lives will actually help businesses move in that direction as well.”
Ifedi said businesses should also put measures in place to make sure that even during a national lockdown, they would still be able to provide seamless e-commerce and other services to their customers.
“One of the ways we can do that is using digital assistance and chat box,” he said.
“Where I see this going in the not too distant future is the Internet of things. Internet of things is where we physically embed technology into devices. My best example and dream I have is where one day my fridge will be so technologically advanced that when I run out of milk it will order milk on my behalf and it gets delivered without me being physically involved.”
Ifedi suggested that there were two simple approaches the private and public sectors could use to create seamless e-commerce. In the interim, he said, businesses should identify what is important to their permanent audience and focus on what would give them a competitive advantage.
“The first [approach] is to be clear about your objectives – what do you want to improve – and be clear about the service you need to achieve the objectives…. The second thing is that you don’t have to do everything yourself. My recommendation is partner or procure from a focused service provider,” he said.
Ifedi warned, however, that while building out seamless e-commerce and other technology platforms, companies should ensure they pay close attention to compliance and regulations, cybersecurity, know-your-customer policies, anti-money laundering and privacy protection policies.
“So whatever you are doing, just make sure it is seamless, it is faster and it is more convenient for your primary audience and customers,” he said.