Regional customer experience: trends and gaps

Organisations are shifting their focus to put more emphasis on Customer Experience, and in the process are making structural changes to their business and adopting new technology tools.

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Regional customer experience: trends and gaps Organisations in the region have taken the right first steps to addressing Customer Experience, but there are still gaps, says Gupta.
By  Arti Gupta Published  January 10, 2015

“Do whatever you do so well that your customers would come back and bring their friends.” This quote from Walt Disney very well relates Customer Advocacy to Customer Experience. This quote was made more than half a century ago, and the practice showed results for Walt Disney. With the ability of one person to reach 1,500 people today, delivering a great customer experience has become even more pressing.

Global trend
Globally organisations are focusing and investing heavily in customer experience. The chart shows the distribution of customer experience scores and the change from 2011 to 2014. Percentage of companies delivering ‘Good’ and ‘Excellent’ Customer experience increased to 37% in 2014 from 16% in 2011. The percentage of companies delivering ‘Poor’ and ‘Very Poor’ experience decreased from 48% in 2011 to 25% in 2014.

Regional trends
The Government of the UAE is on the right path with the charter for customer service. This has created a buzz around delivering superior experience to customers. The last few years have seen a surge of events around Customer Experience with most event companies on the bus. These events have been able to bring C-level executives from the region together to raise awareness of the need for Customer Experience. With Customer Experience in the air regionally as well as globally, let us see the trends in the organisations within the region.

Organisation Structure change
Customer experience involves keeping the customer at the centre of the organisation. Silos within the organisation can prevent organisations from looking at holistic customer experience journeys. To remedy this, organisations are organisations across industries are appointing a Customer Experience Head. Organisations are also developing a dedicated department, which can look across the organisation and work on projects to improve the experience delivered to customers. This is a good first step in the right direction.

There is also a trend towards setting up of a unit, which can work as an interface between IT and Business. To deliver a ‘wow’ experience to customers, it is important to understand the importance of IT and weave IT into the corporate strategy rather than a separate IT strategy. Today CIOs are moving from being Chief Information Officers to Chief Impact Officers. The decisions they make have a huge impact on the business and customers.

Solutions
IT solutions enable organisations to streamline processes, understand their customers and deliver a great user experience. Organisations in the region are looking closely at solutions that bring them closer to their customers. These include customer analytics and Business Intelligence solutions involving simple dash-boarding as well as big data; cloud solutions for more agility to deliver good customer service; and mobile applications to help reach customers using their preferred channel as well as to understand customer behaviour using location services.

Social media
Organisations are also using social media to enhance the customer experience, through social media engagement–using social media to connect with customers, respond to their requests/comments and deliver messages; and social media monitoring, with a move from traditional surveys seeking feedback to listening to the web. Crawling the web and listening to what customers and prospects are saying about a brand and its competitors gives more realistic feedback.

With so much happening on the Customer Experience front, customers are yet to feel the impact with improved service. There are definitely some gaps in the Customer Experience transformation approach:

CE Strategy — There is a piecemeal approach to Customer Experience with a lack of comprehensive short-term, medium-term and long-term Customer Experience strategy. Organisations need to proactively decide if they are aiming to deliver segmented experience or wow every customer; touch-points where they need to differentiate; and service promise etc. This would help the teams to prioritize the projects and would bring everyone on the same page in the organisation.

Outside-in View — Customer experience is all about customers’ perception of services being delivered across their journey with an organisation. To deliver consistent experience, it is important to first define the experience an organisation wants to deliver and then work inwards on people, processes and tools to deliver the same. Organisations still follow an inside-out approach where they look at buying a solution, making an internal change, improving a process and then having an impact on the experience.

Service/Product Approach — Organisations still focus on up-selling and cross-selling to customers. They look at ways of segmenting customers to market products to them effectively. Customer Experience is about looking at their needs, and fulfilling them. When Customer Experience is delivered right, up-sell and cross-sell happens. It is an end result and not a focus in the Customer Experience journey.

Customer engagement in the CEM journey — Engaging customers from day one to map customer journey, get feedback, and design Customer Experience strategy yields very positive results. There is a lack of courage to involve customers at each stage.

Employee engagement/empowerment — There is a gap in the employee experience delivered by organisations in the region. Organisations need to understand that only happy employees deliver a happy customer experience.

Overall the region seems to have embarked on the journey of Customer Experience with the right first steps. There is a need to move from ‘Inside-out’process and solutions approach to ‘Outside-In’ service culture approach where employees, customers and leaders are completely engaged and work together to provide a superior Customer experience at key touch-points.

Arti Gupta is Chief Learning Officer & Consultant, Customer Experience at Finesse Blog @www.artigupta.net

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