When P. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore wrote their now famous Harvard Business Review article in 1998, “Welcome to the Experience Economy,” they launched the marketing sub-expertise known as customer experience. At the time, Pine and Gilmore’s great insight was that in an increasingly commoditized marketplace, what differentiates one company from another is the quality of their customers’ experiences.
Over time, the ways of creating an exceptional customer experience have evolved. Here at NICE Systems, we’ve worked out the 6 commandments to creating an exceptional customer experience. In a nutshell, you should (1) use VOC as your compass, to create (2) effortless, (3) repeatable experiences that (4) engage your customers and (5) delight them with their proactive nature, as you (6) weave CX DNA throughput your organization. This becomes even more complex as the number of customer interaction channels rises over time.
Therefore, providing that exceptional customer experience across channels is arguably the most important characteristic nowadays. In fact, according to the NICE Customer Experience Survey (2013), customers choose to interact with their providers over 5.8 different channels, while the use of emerging channels (social media, live chat and smartphone apps) nearly doubled over the past two years. This trend is so significant that we even propose that the name CX Day should be changed to Digital CX Day.
Not convinced? Consider this:
A whopping 33% of customers say they prefer to reach a company via social media and global e-commerce sales are poised to hit $1.5 trillion (eMarketer 2014).
No company can afford to neglect the digital aspect of customer experience. If you still think of your company’s digital activity as an add-on or afterthought, you’re headed for trouble.
As Daniel Rigby recently wrote in Harvard Business Review, “omnichannel retailers—those that seamlessly integrate the best of both digital and physical worlds at each step of the customer experience—are likely to enjoy significant advantages over retailers that try to pursue either one alone or both independently.”
Take Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Sales at Apple, and former CEO of Burberry.
In eight years at the helm of the British clothing retailer, she spearheaded the strongest digital push in the fashion world. Every piece of clothing in the stores has an RFID tag in it. If you walk to a mirror, a video comes up of a model wearing the coat in your hand. Ahrendts also wanted to merge the digital experience with the in-store experience. The music played on the web site, the photography and displays were all unified between the stores and online. "The most vital thing is whatever they see on that landing page, they see in the windows," she told Fast Company. “If you walked into Men's, in London, you should see those same looks on the mannequin at exactly the same time."
As executives like Ahrendts astutely understand, customer experience has both physical and digital components and we have reached the stage where neither of these components can be dismissed. With so much of a customer’s time spent online, you cannot afford to neglect either. Therefore, we’re proposing our 5-point credo of digital customer experience.
Exceptional digital customer experience is personal, meaningful, memorable, and effortless; and is experienced as omnichannel. By personal, we mean attentive to a customer’s unique needs and context. Meaningful implies that we interact with customers in a way that has resonance for them. If they have children, for instance, offer them the family package. Even better, anticipate what they need before they do. Perform all of this in a way that is effortless, and make sure you treat your customer consistently across digital channels and in-person. Remember, it’s the accumulation of small moments over time that ultimately add up to a stellar customer experience.
Ultimately, exceptional digital customer experience is grounded upon the same tenets as traditional CX, but in a way that integrates the physical with the digital for an entirely omnichannel experience.
On CX Day 2014, when the digital world meshes with the physical one, providing an omnichannel experience across physical and digital channels is critical for customer experience. After all, when all is said and done, it about how your customers feel. And that’s true whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone, or even while interacting with a virtual reality headset.