Customer Experiences – in 2020 and after.

With this article we would like to shine a light on the concept of Customer Centricity – aiming to zoom into competences shared by people whom have designed valuable customer experiences.

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.

The struggle.

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.

The solution.

 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?

A customer-centric transformation asks to continuously rethink what you do to connect with customers.

STEPHANIE STUIT – Digital Specialist at Batenborch International

Understanding the drivers of CX and CS, and evolving and adapting to these insights, is what lays ground for churn reduce, profit increase and loyalty growth. Easy, no. The way to go to in 2020 and after, for sure. With a specialization in propositions from mid-to top management level, and an extensive network of specialists, managers and leaders in the field of Innovation and Change, there is a lot to learn about the potential impact of both success and failure of customer centricity attempts.  In our experience, the engine of customer-centricity is fueled by two groups of people. The people on leadership level who will design and drive the transformation, including change programs for cultural and operational shifts across all units (and their roll out). And the people whom execute – adding their functional analytical, research, design and development skills, bringing outside-in perspectives. Here´s what we learned about them.

Competences.

Leaders need to be customer centric at heart – customer happiness is their why, rather than an indirect how that benefits commercial results. Leaders create an overview on the end-to-end customer experience and define preferred customer-centric behaviors, driven by the true orientation on the customer insights and concerns. This behavior should be translated to tactics, clear goal sets and measurable KPI’s to guard successful execution on both tactical and operational level. Part of this behavior focusses on sharing information and collaboration cross-functionally, which should be put at the center of the organizational governance and structure. This requires true group leadership, in order to be able to guide people through the transformation of what they do and mostly, how they do it. Of course, it’s the role of the leader to be an exact role model of customer-centric behavior to motivate the rest of the organization to follow. This is only possible if a leader passionately performs by a strong customer-orientation him- or herself.

The people whom execute are the ones to design, develop and drive customer-centricity across channels and touchpoints. There is no blueprint for the best organizational structure, with an overview of the best set of functional profiles for an optimized CX. Given the maturity of CX and the level of performance, the first face of transformation will have to focus on setting norms, rules and values followed by a second face of CX redesign, digitalization and innovation. While literally bringing the customer in trough research, industry best practices and cross-sector insights, CX specialists are high result-driven to  continuously improve the quality of each touchpoint, as well as generating new ideas from customer feedback and insights gathered along the way.

To support you in assessing these competences during interview or evaluation processes, we have developed some easy to use tools including example areas to explore and example questions to ask regarding considering the competence Customer Orientation, Group Leadership and Drive for Result.

 

Download Customer Experiences Competence Cards