In the pandemic aftermath, there isn’t an organization that hasn’t been touched by digitalization. Regardless of the industry and sector, technologies have made inroads into every business at varying degrees. And businesses, for their part, have become more agile, productive, and efficient as a result. However, these outcomes and their magnitudes have differed from one business to another. Businesses with a people-centric approach to digital transformation have emerged more successful. Personalization, customer- and employee-centricity, insight-led operations have been instrumental to this effect. Sajid Azmi, CEO of Yegertek, a Dubai-based solutions provider in brand engagement and customer loyalty, gave his two cents on the transformations underway and their concomitants.
“With increased digitalization and widespread adoption of technologies, businesses run the risk of overwhelming customers with too many choices.”Sajid Azmi, CEO of Yegertek
What is the broad sentiment among businesses at the moment? And what are the key areas of focus?
There is technological homogeneity across the business ecosystem. Previously, sectors like retail were ahead in digital transformation while healthcare, real estate, etc. slacked. For example, data in healthcare — clinical data, hospital IoT data, sales data, etc. — were largely scattered. In the past year or so, greater integration has enabled healthcare and real estate businesses to achieve unprecedented efficiencies and optimization of costs, workflows, and end-user experiences. Fast movers have added cutting-edge analytics and CRM software to integrated platforms, unearthing new opportunities and differentiating themselves. Their key focus areas include insight-led operations, hyper-segmentation, and -personalization, with people — both customers and employees — as the cornerstone.
Personalization has been a playing field for businesses for quite some time. What is different in the pandemic aftermath?
With increased digitalization and widespread adoption of technologies, businesses run the risk of overwhelming customers with too many choices. Therefore, the focus has shifted to hyper-segmentation of customers, based on a number of data points, including but not limited to purchase history, shopping behaviours, recorded preferences, and demographic factors. Hyper-personalization has led to the uptake of clienteling solutions, which enable businesses to analyze data across touchpoints and offer clients exactly what they desire. Yegertek launched “Puzzle”, its proprietary clienteling solution, to empower its clients to keep pace with the brave new world of hyper-personalization.
If the contemporary customer is spoilt for choices, then how are businesses/brands commanding loyalty?
The digital transformation that is currently underway has dismantled the conventional notions of “loyalty”. Businesses were previously fixated on “transactional” loyalty programs, rewarding customers with transferable points and cashback for purchases. Specialized discounts and cashback still command loyalty in the UAE. However, forward-thinking brands are now rewarding shoppers’ non-transactional behaviour as well, giving out prizes for taking surveys, donating a portion of their spending to charities of choice, etc. Some businesses are creating exclusivity, by creating loyalty programs that give customers a special feeling of being a member. This is a welcome development as it creates stronger customer relationships that are rooted in trust, transparency, and goodwill.
You have stressed throughout that equal importance be given to both customers and employees. What is the rationale behind it? How are businesses/brands approaching this?
Customer experience (CX) is still the holy grail for businesses. However, following the pandemic, the discourse has shifted to employee experience (EX) as well. Greater clarity has emerged on the positive impact of engaged employees on CX as well as the organizational bottom line. At the same time, the EX rulebook has changed considerably, with empathy taking precedence. As opposed to “forced-fun” activities like lunch parties and team outings, businesses are now more geared towards creating a good work-life balance, offering flexible schedules, promoting diversity and inclusion, and enhancing transparency. In fact, metrics such as NPS (Net Promoter Score), CSAT (Customer Satisfaction), and CCR (Customer Churn Rate) etc. — which businesses use to track CX — are being used to measure employee engagement as well. Additionally, many are leveraging human experience management (HXM) technologies and wearables to drive personalized EX.
How do you sum up the year 2021 for a solutions provider like Yegertek? What is the roadmap for 2022 and beyond?
We had a steep learning curve in 2021. We understood our strengths, identified areas where we can improve, and stood shoulder to shoulder with our clients as they navigated the pandemic headwinds. We invested our learnings into the enhancement of ERP and CRM products, before launching our clienteling solution Puzzle. We have carried this momentum to 2022 as we gear up for expansion in the KSA and African subcontinent. Both these markets have a strong appetite for Microsoft CRM and Engage 365 loyalty solutions. In 2022, they will find all the answers in Yegertek.
How is the post-pandemic business ecosystem shaping up in the UAE? What are the key drivers?
Increasing consumer spending is giving businesses all the incentive they need to embrace digital transformation. On the other hand, government policies — such as full ownership rights, golden visas, incubators for entrepreneurs — are facilitating a favourable ecosystem for new and existing businesses. Investors are displaying a particular affinity for digital-first, customer-facing startups. This sentiment was evident in Yegertek’s recent funding from NB Ventures. Likewise, in 2022, the UAE will witness greater funding activity along with demonstrable CSR actions and ESG compliance from businesses.