As we all know, the field of customer experience is undergoing significant changes. Technology, data and the essential importance of customer experience are all making a profound impact on every customer-focused company. We are going to take a closer look at these disruptive forces, how they influence each other and, most importantly, how companies can effectively deal with them to create perfect customer experiences.
The increasing importance of customer experience
In today’s economy, goods and services are increasingly commoditized. This leaves customer experience as the last sustainable differentiator. In fact, Gartner states that by 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience. This means, if you haven’t done so, now is the time to evaluate your customer experience across the customer journey and make sure it matches, if not exceeds, your competitor’s. Because the bottom line is that if customers don’t get the response they need from your company, they will look for it elsewhere.
The technology-empowered customer
Forrester describes this change as “the age of the customer”. This is due in large part to the depth and breadth of knowledge found on the internet, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Very often, the customer now knows more than the company representative about the product and service, the pricing and the reputation. These empowered customers expect to get the service they require at the time they want through the channel most convenient to them - whether it’s on the phone, through the website, through social media or even in person at a store. Customers want the reassurance that companies are available to respond to all inquiries at all times of the day.
And the numbers bear this out: A consumer survey conducted by NICE shows that consumers are now using on average 5.9 channels to interact with their service providers (NICE CX Survey, 2013
The overflow of data
The third disruptive force is sometimes referred to as ‘Big Data’. We are talking about a huge amount of data, including many millions of interaction records as well as other data which are critical to understanding your customers. But another issue that’s just as important is that this data resides in so many different places. This makes it even more difficult to operationalize this knowledge to reshape your customer experience.
It’s the Customer Journey That Matters
To succeed in such an environment and provide the perfect customer experience, a company needs to focus on managing the comprehensive customer journey. The journey forms the entire experience, from the moment your customers first engage with your brand, to the actual purchase and finally, to when they call you up for service or renew their warranty program.
We believe that in order to create perfect experiences, organizations need to pay close attention to these 3 key areas of action:
Know your customer – First, it’s about sensing the customer’s world in an intelligent way, capturing the entire journey across all touchpoints and understanding it by applying smart analytics to extract customer insight – what customers want and need and what should be done about it.
Act in real time – Next, it’s about taking the right action and providing the right service in real time, based on all of that customer insight and analytical predictions you’ve gathered through smart analytics.
Optimize the customer journey – Finally, it’s about making sure that your customer-facing strategy is fine-tuned so that negative experiences aren’t repeated and your employees are fully engaged, knowledgeable and motivated to deliver the best experience.
By recognizing the 3 key forces which influence customer experience and mapping out how to react to them-- knowing your customer, acting in real time, optimizing the customer journey-- you’re well on your way to creating the perfect customer experience.