Investing in customer experience

Oracle has recently expanded its CRM portfolio with a wide range of acquisitions

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Investing in customer experience Khehar: Oracle’s new acquisitions allow companies to manage the customer experience across multiple points of contact.
By Staff Writer Published  November 14, 2012

Oracle has recently expanded its CRM portfolio with a wide range of acquisitions. Arun Khehar, vice president, Applications, Oracle MEA, explains how the goal now is managing the customer experience.

Why is it important for companies to ensure their customers have a good experience interacting with them?

The dry definition of customer experience is the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by one or many interactions with a vendor’s employees, channels, systems, or products. This experience is measured, rated, and evaluated by the customer, not by the company. These days, because of the many and immediate ways a customer can interact with a business, customers have a stronger influence on a business’ success than they have ever had before.

Managing the entire customer experience and evoking positive feelings requires a disciplined and dedicated approach. Differentiation among products and services is not as great today as in the past – as distribution became more efficient, manufacturing more cost effective, competition has increased and quality has gone up. Along with this largely commoditised environment, the customer experience is now the key differentiator that will make them buy from one company and not another. If I know that I can get a good product anywhere, I’ll go to the supplier who treats me the best.

What are the key elements of delivering a good customer experience?

Connect and engage. Customers want to reach a business from anywhere, through many channels – phone, internet, mobile, social network, commerce sites or walk in physically. A company will make this happen by creating simple, consistent, and relevant experiences across all these touchpoints and interactions. Then they will tailor their digital interactions by gathering and analysing customer behaviour, intent, and known preferences, and feed these back into their systems to provide for an even more personalised and consistent experience.

Know more. Companies need to gather as much information as they can about their customers before the customer interacts again. Having the right information at the right time improves the ability to retain customers and have them become repeat buyers. Personalise content, messages, and offers based on real-time decisions and recommendations using analytic insights such as ‘next likely purchase’ and ‘next best action.’

Make it easy and rewarding. Improve efficiency and accuracy with cross-channel order orchestration and fulfillment. Provide customers with intelligent self-service and at-the-point-of-need assistance anywhere, anytime. Proactively engage customers directly in social networks and reward best customers for total lifetime value, including referral value.

We all seem to know when we have a great customer experience, but it is sometimes difficult for customers to identify exactly what made the difference. After studying examples across multiple industries and geographies, there are five key qualities that customers value in a great experience:
• Consistent voice
• Connected interactions
• Personalized journey
• Efficient service
• Rewarding relationships

Are customers really having a good service experience today?

One of our acquired companies, RightNow, commissioned a customer experience impact survey in 2011 which revealed facts about what consumers are looking for from a brand, how quickly they will dump a favorite brand, and their tendency to seek retribution after a breakup. The survey found that 86% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience; only one percent of consumers feel that their expectations for a good customer experience are always met; 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience; and 50% of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.

Bad experiences travel fast. After a poor customer experience, 26% of consumers posted a negative comment on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter for hundreds, even thousands, of their friends and followers to see.

Can companies take back the lead in the customer relationship from being customer-driven? Should they?

The process has evolved from a sales cycle to a buying cycle with control of the customer relationship now in the hands of the empowered consumer. Customers can make buying decisions without ever contacting your company. Clearly, customer experience matters more than ever before. Social media and the array of digital interaction options customers have today gives companies the opportunity to ‘listen’ to their customers, gather the information and act on it. If they don’t, they will lose a customer to a business who does give them a great customer experience.

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