Leading in market position comes down to a simple formula: Businesses must make managing and exceeding customer expectations a top priority. There are many opportunities to drive superior customer experience, including the proliferation of new technologies, mass personalization of customer touch points, and the urgency to build operational efficiencies.
However, taking advantage of these opportunities has proven to be an uphill task. Businesses are contending with new business models, new operating systems, and new customer engagements channels that are infiltrating the market constantly. While many businesses are grappling with these challenges, many are performing exceedingly well. For example:
· Disney invested approximately $1 billion into The Disney Experience for its Disney World theme park in Orlando, Florida. Visitors receive a wrist band that allows them to open room doors, make reservations for attractions, and pay for food and other items with a swipe of their hand. Launched in 2013, Disney estimates that 80% of its patrons use the device, attesting to its popularity as part of the Disney experience.
· Metrobank, another frontrunner, has built a frictionless banking model by leveraging 100% cloud solutions. This has enabled customers to manage their banking transactions digitally and banks to reduce their overall processing time by over 50%.
These trendsetters however, have a direct impact on customer expectations. More customers today are favoring digital mediums to conventional brick and mortar stores. Businesses therefore need to ensure their products and services are on par, each time, to stay in the game.
So, how can businesses manage and exceed these expectations?
Here is a four-pronged strategy to assess, drive, and sustain a superior customer experience:
· Listen to the customer: Businesses in the digital age can gain first-hand information about their customer by tapping into their Big Data and analyzing it with various listening tools. They can capture the customer sentiments and apply the findings to tailor their business strategy. Samsung used social media listening to mine customer data and the analysis had a major impact on its promotional strategy for their S8 smartphone.
· Learn and evolve: Today’s consumers provide feedback on a real time basis. With AI and machine learning technology, businesses can assess, learn, and improve their customer touch points based on the feedback. Dutch Airlines KLM is a classic example of a company that is constantly learning, evolving, and reinventing the traveler’s experience. Travelers can access up-to-date flight information using Amazon Alexa voice recognition installations. Moreover, KLM’s AI-led systems provide customers with relevant information when they contact the airline’s call centers. This is made possible because of the agility within the organization to seamlessly adapt and address customer feedback, incidents, tickets and improve their overall service delivery and end customer experience.
· Benchmarking: Studies show that consumers are quick to switch providers if their service experience is disappointing. Baselining channels internally and benchmarking with the best-in-class is therefore crucial to business success. Businesses need to regularly evaluate their company performance and compare it against competitors, review the quality parameters, inspect online channels and platforms and their responsiveness to customer feedback, etc. This will help build an overall customer experience index that focuses on positive achievements and weeding out negative outcomes.
· Inclusiveness through mass personalization: Mass personalization helps a business target the right set of products and services, to the right audience, at the right time, across the right channels before the competition does. This approach keeps businesses tuned into the specific needs of user segments and adopt robust validation strategies for each segment. A strategy for millennials for instance might focus on delivering a superior customer experience since they have less patience for ineffective services. Another segment could be consumers with accessibility concerns that require a different strategy.
Business need to also consider their industry’s requirements and customize their validation strategy accordingly. For instance, retailers will have peak and slack seasons. Burberry uses a number of loyalty and reward programs to request customers to share data voluntarily that is then used to offer personalized recommendations, online and in store.
Customer experience is fickle and constantly evolving. Continuously meeting and exceeding customer experience is the key to survival in this Business 4.0 era. Businesses that have chosen to take up the transformation challenge already have the lead. But, resting on one’s laurels or focusing only on providing superior quality services and products can prove to be detrimental to business.
Businesses that apply this four step strategy can drive their top-line growth and bottom-line efficiencies, improve customer retention, and ensure timely compliance to changing regulatory norms. It’s time businesses pick up on the specific needs of the customers and evolve their strategies at regular intervals in order to stay abreast with customer expectations. It’s time to take the next step towards transformation.