I have often written how digital disruption has completely changed the way that customers engage with brands. The customer journey used to be defined and controlled by companies, yet the mobile Internet and social networking platforms have now handed control to the customers to determine how and when they seek information or try engaging with companies.
Forbes magazine recently listed the top ten issues and trends related to digital disruption that executives need to be aware of in 2017 and number two on the list was the customer experience (CX). Number one was the fact that change is always happening, which could probably apply in any year, but I’m interested to see CX placed so high up on the digital disruption priority list.
Specific issues around digital disruption and the CX include:
- Use data to learn where your customers are coming from; if you want to personalise your offer so you have recommendations and deals designed for the individual customer then you need data and you need to be able to analyse that data.
- Create a consistent experience across many channels; it’s not acceptable to offer great service on a voice call and awful service on Twitter – omnichannel expectations mean that you need to be consistent across all channels.
- Every touch point between the brand and customer matters; internally you might think of different types of customer touchpoints – marketing, advertising, sales, PR, service – however to the customer it doesn’t matter. All they know of is their interaction with your brand.
- Removing friction from the overall experience; simplicity is the key to keeping the customer happy. Make their life easy and you will win supporters.
- Enhance the experience compared to what the customer is used to; can you service stand out when compared to the competition? If not then why not? Aim to be better than others offering similar services.
The Forbes feature says:
“The customer experience (including employees) is the ultimate goal of any digital transformation. Customers are more cautious than ever; they’ll turn away from brands that don’t align with their values and needs. A top-notch user experience is a fantastic way to keep customers involved and engaged with your brand.”
We are only a quarter of the way into 2017 and yet it is clear that digital disruption will be one of the key themes for business strategy this year. It’s clear to me that managing the customer experience in 2017 will be a challenge for many companies as interactions between customers and brands are being disrupted in many ways, but awareness and planning can help to mitigate the risks ahead.
What do you think are the leading areas of digitial disruption that will affect CX in the year ahead? Leave a comment here or tweet me on @markhillary. Photo by Masha Krasnova-Shabaeva licensed under Creative Commons.
According to Forrester Research, 72% of executives now say that improving the customer experience (CX) is their number one priority. Yes, it’s become so important now that it beats cost reduction and growing revenues, although it could be argued that improving the CX usually has a positive effect on both these other targets.
But as customer service expert Shep Hyken points out in a feature published by Forbes magazine, poor customer service costs companies about $62 billion a year just in the USA alone – billion, not million. You can see the losses detailed in this infographic. The figures are calculated by looking at the actions taken when a customer receives poor service. In this research, 91% will do something after a bad customer experience and about half (49%) will switch to an alternative brand for their purchase.
Shep lists ten CX trends in his article to watch out for in 2017, but his first point is possibly the most interesting. He said that even if we are seeing statistics like the lost $62 billion mentioned in this research, the customer experience is generally getting better. I tend to agree. Based on my own experience with our clients I can see that there is more sophistication around CX strategy today. It’s getting, better, but customer expectations are also changing faster than ever.
In my view, there are a few important reasons why CX is generally improving though:
- Customers are demanding it; customers are more sophisticated than ever. They expect service 24/7 across a variety of channels and they expect a great experience however they interact with brands.
- Companies are seeing value; there is a measurable ROI from investing in an improved CX and many executives now see this as essential.
- Omnichannel; ensuring that customer interactions work equally well across all channels and information can be shared inside the organisation has dramatically improved how customers feel when they hop from one channel to another.
- CRM Investment; companies know more than ever about customers and customers are willing to give up personal data if they can see they there is something in it for them – companies are getting smarter about creating a more personal service.
- Mature Agent Strategy; agents in call centres are finally being seen as more than just people answering the phone and reading a script. They are developing useful skills in marketing and sales that are genuinely adding value to companies. Customer service is now at the centre of the relationship with the customer.
So for all these reasons I do agree with Shep’s point that CX is getting better, although it is hard to quantify exactly by how much, if there is even a benchmark that it can be measured against. I’m going to explore some research to see if I can find any documented evidence of improvement in CX generally, but in the meantime let me know what you think.