The decade of customer experience?

Sridhar Iyengar, Zoho
Sridhar Iyengar, Zoho

The heat is on to discover the most effective way to deliver on CX

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27 April 2020 | 0

Customer
experience has been one of the most hyped terms towards the end of
the last decade. Is this decade the start of a new era where
companies get it right?

The challenge is nothing new. Battle lines have already been drawn to see which companies can become known for delivering excellence in customer experience.

Customer experience is critical to competitive differentiation

There are so many options for products and services today, that customer experience counts more than ever. It is now critical to competitive differentiation in any marketplace.

 

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Cognizant stated that, this year, 89% of companies will compete primarily on the basis of customer experience – up from just 36% in 2010. But while 80% of companies believe they deliver “super experiences,” only 8% of consumers agree.”

IDC research shows that customer experience (CX) is now the top strategic business priority among European companies, and that by 2022, it will be a $100+ billion market in Europe. A recent Walker study stated that this year, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

The
heat is on to discover the most effective way to deliver this. And,
as the stats above prove, there’s a significant difference between
what organisations think they are delivering and what customers feel
about their experiences with brands.

Execution challenges

Historically, executing a good customer experience strategy has been challenging. So, what do companies need to evolve their customer experience strategies for success?

While
there is a large human element to consider, technology can
significantly aid an

organisation’s
ability to improve the effectiveness of customer experience. It can
enable businesses to work seamlessly together so all teams contribute
to the customer journey.

Strategic
technology considerations

What
needs to be considered to adopt the right technology strategy to help
companies deliver excellent customer experience?

The right platform

This should be accessible right across an organisation, including to front line employees and teams.

Privacy

Respecting customer privacy preferences while planning to provide exceptional customer experience is like skating on thin ice. Designing a customer experience strategy around privacy will build trust between customers and the brand.

TCO

Often only licensing costs are noted, but as business requirements change, hidden costs of system maintenance arise, and become challenging.

Other
important examples include: customisation options to help companies
adapt to serve different business needs; integration with necessary
tools; and flexibility for future enhancements and agility.

What will this decade bring?

Employee experience should be addressed before exceptional customer experience can be delivered. Complex technology has prohibited wide scale adoption of customer experience platforms. Vendors must address this and deliver tools to help teams navigate through multiple data sets easily with simple and speedy access to required information.

Seamless data flow has been a challenge, often exacerbated through vendors filling up their customer experience portfolios with acquisitions. This decade will see developments to truly deliver a 360-degree actionable view. Historically stitching together acquired platforms has made this difficult, but seamless delivery and uninterrupted data flow is now a requirement.

The true advent of personalisation

Technology plays a critical role in not only collecting customer data, but to help companies understand it, drive insights and determine the most effective way to deliver personalised customer experience.

Companies
should consider:

  • Contextual data: Companies collect a staggering amount of customer data, but it is only useful if categorised contextually, so data is applied in the right way.
  • Signals: Customer provide information through many channels, with some more insightful than others, e.g. a tweet, a website chat message, or browsing certain products on an e-commerce website. These signals, when configured, need to trigger appropriate action.
  • Intelligence: Customer information can be gathered to enable a better experience, e.g., when does a customer like to be contacted and how, or what does sentiment analysis tell us about how they are feeling so companies can adjust their approach accordingly?
  • Orchestration: Customer experience is the collective responsibility of an organisation, as data traverses through multiple teams and tools. To get this done perfectly, the orchestration of various tools and data sets helps to provide continuous customer experience.

If companies have the right tools in place, personalisation can become easier for the company to deliver which can have a significant impact on customer experience. A 2018 BCG survey cites top barriers to personalisation are all linked to data and technology. For example, poor data centralisation, inadequate real time data feeds, technology does not support 1:1 communication at scale, lack of technology integration, and so on.

However, companies must consider how personalisation can be useful and delight customers, without seeming too invasive. There remains a disparity between what marketers deliver here, and what customers want to see.

In a recent blog , Forrester outlines the impact of personalisation on business prosperity and stated that, “Done well, personalisation captures customer attention and creates value for your customers, driving customer loyalty and long-term profitability. It helps your organisation become more customer-obsessed, which ultimately benefits your business.

Bringing data together and refining it through analysis unearths the signals that guide personalisation. The final step is of course using those insights to personalise experiences across channels using your systems of engagement. Personalisation requires careful cross-channel and cross-functional collaboration.”

The battle rages on

Quite simply, those who do it right will win, and those who do not, will lose. The armoury to win the customer experience battle needs to be constructed from the right technology or tools, but these have to be applied in the right way to equip companies with the best insights to deliver hyper-personalisation effectively.

We can expect to see plenty of strategic experimentation using more customer data this decade, but will we see the ultimate successful execution of customer experience through personalisation? Every business should ensure they are well armed, but the right strategy with this armoury will win through. Without a doubt, competition will remain fierce in the battle for customer experience this decade.

Sridhar
Iyengar is managing director for Europe for Zoho Corporation

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