In the year 2020, performing “customer-centric” and creating “valuable customer experiences” aren’t to call much of a trend anymore. Some excel, as we all look up to Netflix, Uber and Spotify brands with a state of the art CX and underlying Machine Learning algorithms – and some are learning the hard way. The better the CX, the more churn reduces, profit increases and loyalty grows. The worse the CX, the higher the risk customers leave a brand, choose alternatives and even worse, complain about it publicly.
Cultivating positive, personal connections with customers increases to be of big impact on business successes. The ever-advancing and fast pace developing Digital landscape gives customers a wider scope on the market and its players, plus redefines customers’ needs and expectations. As competition is greater and consumer power is growing, organizations are forced to seek beyond product innovation or service differentiation – searching for sustainable, durable forms of competitive advantages. “Customer Experience” is, in our opinion – and in those of many others, a source to seriously (re-)consider in 2020.
There are many definitions behind the concept of Customer Experiences. For now, we go with it as the total set of interactions between a customer and an organization throughout the business relationship being build, maintained and extended. A challenge lies in the large variety of interactions, where one used to have only a limited opportunity to interact with an organization. One could visit a store, call or send a letter to corporate offices – but that’s about it. Today, the customer journey holds many touchpoints across many channels. How to manage, align and connect all touchpoints, while being on-demand valuable and relevant in each and every individual one?
From an operational and IT perspective, that is complicated yet possible. As emphasized in our article on Digital Transformation, customers evolve in needs and expectations simply because technology gives them the opportunity to do so. On the surface customers still want the same – to be taken care of, to be served and be supported along their journey to purchase. As of today, due to the possibilities technology provides, their needs evolve to faster, better and more personalized experiences. And until technology stops to develop, these needs will keep evolving. Therefore, organizations should embrace (emerging) digital technologies as an opportunity to meet customer demands and create customer value, transforming to a more agile and flexible set-up that keeps up with the world outside of corporate walls.
Back to customer centricity and valuable customer experiences. Each interaction could be user-friendly optimized, with fast user flows and convenient UX/UI designs that proved themselves throughout multiple test rounds – while churn, profit and loyalty results remain disappointing. CX touches upon the entire organization and reflects all channels – including direct, indirect, online and offline ones. This therefore requires for all stakeholders throughout the journey to closely collaborate rather than polishing up their piece of the puzzle – and that’s where things become complicated. Many organizations are structured in functional areas, creating silo’s that do not connect, communicate or collaborate. Under this weight, customer experiences stumble. What works for one, might contradict with others.
First things first, operational and IT improvements should be made in order to build a sufficient data management system that drives research and insights for improvements or value creation, and measures the effect on certain stimuli on customers along the way. Besides, proper research lays ground for new ideas and experiments to be conducted. Going beyond optimizing current processes of interactions, technology opens doors for (new) CX streams to be designed. Next to that, customer centricity is about changing mindset and focus to the customer – across each individual discipline, department and team. Organizational perspectives, as well as procedures, should be reconsidered, reorganized and changed in the light of a customer centric vision. The focus shifts from functional areas to touchpoints, from silo’s to shared responsibilities. Which should be seen as an ongoing process, for the simple reason that customer expectations, wishes and demands evolve over time, trends and technologies. As soon as customers become less of a top level priority, or are not embedded in day-to-day goals and tasks, CX ratings and CS numbers are spiraling downward – way faster than they have ever attempt to rise. A customer-centric transformation asks to continuously rethink what you do to connect with customers and mostly, how you do it. It requires for organizations to understand who their customer is, what they do, how and where but mostly – why?