Navigating A Digital World
It has long been established that CX & CS cannot be conflated. Customer Experience has become a key differentiator of business strategy for every brand. Businesses cannot embark on a digital transformation project without accounting for how to go about aligning this with a revamped customer experience. Every industry is adjusting to global shifts that are making the world increasingly customer-centric/obsessed. It has become ever more important to lay the foundation for long-term partnerships with your customers predicated on trust and transparency. It has become a well-known opinion that “Companies that place customer experience at the top of their list of priorities are more successful than those who adopt a ‘push’ mentality.”
KYC is an accepted mantra within the business community, however in todays digital world; it has become ever more critical. More resources are being diverted and invested into gaining data-driven insights from artificial intelligence and machine learning; which are capable of unlocking a new world of customisation and seamless experiences that aligns with customers growing need for personalised interactions that are relevant, empathetic and performed in real-time.
Gartner’s Customer Experience Trends Survey revealed that, in 2018, two-thirds of companies increased their customer experience technology investments, with 52% reporting that they intended to increase spending further in 2019. In last year’s survey, Gartner found that 81% of companies expect customer experience to be the most important competition metric by 2020.
Businesses have been investing heavily in technology over the past decade in various digital transformation projects in order to simplify online purchasing, improve overall customer experience and service, whilst ensuring relevant and personalised interactions. Digital touchpoints are redefining the relationship customers have with a brand; either encouraging loyalty and brand ambassadorship or resulting in lost customers becoming detractors. In fact, Gartner reports that 81% of executives believe they’ll compete on customer experience alone in the not-too-distant future, but only 22% have claimed to have developed an experience that exceeds customer expectations. Customers have become so accustomed to great customer experiences that 32% say they’ll walk away from a brand, even those that they love after just one bad experience, according to a 2018 analysis by PwC.
Striking The Balance between Digital & Human Interaction
However, balancing digital interactions with humanisation can be tricky for even the most digital astute organisation – it is for this reason that companies will continue to drive more investments in both digital and human CX. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen remarked that “if a company cannot engage digitally with the customer, understand how the funnel, all the way from acquiring customers to renewing them, can be done digitally, they're going to be disadvantaged.” Forward-thinking business will be those that are able to improve their bottom line by not only satisfying the needs and desires of today’s customers, but also being able to predict what experiences tomorrows customers will need and want. PwC’s Future of CX Report affirms a common industry position that customers are willing to pay more for the experience qualities that matter most to them: with 43% of consumers stating that they would pay more for greater convenience, whilst 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience.
In 2018, James Paine, the Founder of West Realty Advisors wrote, in a piece for Inc, that “twenty years ago, if you paid for a product or service and you weren't happy with what you received, the best you could hope for was that if you sent in a letter of complaint, you'd eventually receive a refund. You could tell a couple of friends and maybe they'd tell their friends, but that was about it. Nowadays, though, if a customer has a bad experience then they can post about it online, and if they post about it online then it can go viral and even seriously damage the overall value of your brand. After all, all it took was one tweet from Kylie Jenner to knock US$1.3bn off Snapchat's valuation.” Bad customer experience costs money, but moreso the ensuing reputational damage.
Customer Experience success will depend extensively on the emotional path of trust and engagement that you share with your customers. It has never been more vital that businesses account for customer feedback during digital interactions so as to understand and fulfil customer preferences in a world of increasingly connected consumers.
Digital Transformation is not going anywhere; according to Harvard Business School; “digital leaders have a three-year average gross margin of 55%, compared to 37% for digital laggards”. However, for digital transformation to be fully realised, organisations must take a long-term view and involve every employee – this has become the new normal.
With customer experiences being shared, recorded and socialised – it’s becoming more complex to navigate this shifts in expectation – as you digitise, don’t take for granted the human experience. Customer obsession should be embraced as a permanent state of mind when aiming to give customers highly personalised experiences on the level of global competitors such as Amazon. This new era of digital customer experiences has the potential to unlock unharnessed revenue streams where you evolve with your customers or are left behind.
Join other CX professionals at Africa’s leading Customer Experience event to share your thoughts, and gain hands on experience from a host of industry commentators that will align your business strategy with today’s digital world.
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