Why digital experience is the way forward to build customer loyalty

Why digital experience is the way forward to build customer loyalty

This year, businesses will have to dig deep to deliver the tripod of better CX, lower costs, and more efficient operations says Sandie Overtveld at Freshworks.

The past few years, while littered with planet-scale challenges – a pandemic, a recession, a supply-chain crisis, and now inflation – have served as an impressive case study for the resilience of the United Arab Emirates. It was by no means immune to any of these shocks, and yet the country showed why vision is one of the words with which it is most associated.

In the UAE’s pulsating private sector, cool heads are already planning a route through the current economic instability and a climate of expectation from consumers that has no equal in history. Customer loyalty is more important than it has ever been, given a range of factors. One is that new customers are more expensive to onboard than existing ones are to retain. Another is that loyalty can lead to advocacy, which amounts to free advertising. Both considerations are vital to marketing functions that are seeing their budgets dwindle.

Sandie Overtveld, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Freshworks APMEA

So, loyalty – how do we achieve it? Customer experiences, that’s how.

But while toning up CX, organisations still must align business operations with other budgetary constraints. It is a balance. This year, businesses will have to dig deep to deliver the tripod of better CX, lower costs, and more efficient operations.

Here are some ways to get it right.

Bye-bye bloatware

Legacy, resource-heavy applications are an obvious target for fat-trimming. CIOs should review their digital assets and flag bloatware for ousting. Some decisions will be difficult. Some bloatware is part of the core system suite and must be maintained. But wherever possible, it should be jettisoned. It drains resources; it drains energy in the age of ESG; it adds complexity for the end user; and it is a frequent source of cyber-vulnerability.

So, bloatware stands in the way of efficiency, productivity, employee satisfaction, and cyber-resilience. Removing it allows employees room to breathe, move, react, and grow. They will engage with customers on a more meaningful level. Loyalty is just around the corner.

Bots, bots

There is potential in the current technology landscape for bots to become an integral part of the workforce. If staff must be downsized anyway, then why not replace them with cost-effective, customisable bots that are efficient, reduce operational costs, and eliminate human error?

This trend need not apply routinely to companies that are understaffed. Other businesses may increase their capacity and seek to improve the employee experience by leveraging bots. This can begin to address the reduction in interest seen in self-service tools. As consumers turn back towards a preference for human-to-human interaction, time-saving solutions like robotic process-automation and dynamic canned responses will support agents and prevent burnout amid an escalation of customer contacts.


The UAE has one of the world’s most forward-looking visions for increasing STEM skills. The National Program for Coders is recognition that digital prowess is a differentiator on the world stage and that these skills are in short supply. For the private firm that faces rising labour costs, the training of existing staff to become developers is an attractive proposition. Not only is it cheaper, but the internal employee knows the company better and is likely to become more fulfilled by work that challenges them.

They will hence be more likely to stay than the graduate software professional who, as a fresh hire, already has one toe on the next career stepping-stone. Low-code development platforms allow non-technical employees to become citizen developers. They can build modern, secure, scalable solutions rapidly, thereby accelerating digital transformation and enhancing CX.

Modern CX

Survey after survey shows that the modern consumer does not forgive delays. Over the generations, we have evolved from expecting delivery of products and services in weeks to expecting them in days, hours, minutes, and now, perhaps, seconds.

Part of this expectation shift involves a demand for engagement through everyday consumer tools like social media. As of 2022, the UAE had a reported 99% social media penetration, and we are seeing surges in use of all these channels, from mainstays like Facebook and WhatsApp to new sensations like video-sharing app TikTok, which is now used by 60% of UAE digital socialites.

Marketing professionals and experienced engineers are always talking about finding customers where they are. After months of pandemic lockdowns, they are now to be found on social channels more than ever. In 2023, regional enterprises must find ways to allow agents to engage with the social digi-sphere and its native population. Millennials and Gen Z will appreciate the outreach and respond, leading to better brand reputation and higher levels of capture, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy.


The need for speed shows that serving customers on time, in real time, is critical. But if the accuracy and relevance of the service is suboptimal, this will irk the modern consumer just as much as any delay. Today, AI can be tied into contacts as they happen, wherever they happen. Chat, SMS, WhatsApp – all major messaging platforms are digestible by AI algorithms, and these systems can supply agents with context across contact history that will allow better feedback and greater individualisation of the customer journey.


As they review their IT budgets, regional enterprises will look for the most cost-effective ways to grow as digital businesses. They will improve CX while consolidating operations and shopping around for more equitable long-term subscriptions. They will retain the parts of the tech stack that make sense in modern times, and rip out those that do not.

But at the centre of these overhauls will be the customer. The standard business model in the digital economy is one that ditches the one-to-many B2C relationship for many one-to-one relationships. Digital natives respond to being treated like individuals. It may be the only future. But its dividends are endless.

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