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The digital revolution is the customer experience revolution: three things to know

28th Jul 2016
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I’m sure each of us can probably think of an example where we had a particularly positive or negative experience, be that in-store, on the increasingly-popular webchat services, or on the phone to a customer services representative. And, working in customer engagement, we all appreciate the effect that customer service has on a brand.

All of the pressures of offering exceptional customer service are amplified by the 24/7 increasingly mobile driven world that we live in. The digital revolution – the move towards always-on, digitised customer interaction - is pressuring companies across all industries to transform how they interact with their customers. This is especially true for three sectors in particular – the retail, insurance and banking sectors - which I believe are some of the fastest moving. This transformation is happening despite blurring barriers,  as customers expect the same experience whatever  service they contact.

It’s certainly true that most companies are embracing the challenge, and those that get it right reap the rewards. Recent Capgemini research found a positive correlation between the use of digital channels and the NPS of companies in the telecoms sector, one of the most digitised industries. High-NPS mobile operators also garnered an average revenue growth of 33 percent over 2012-14, whereas the low-NPS ones suffered a revenue decline of seven percent on average over the same period.

But worryingly, many companies, not only in the telecoms sector, are still unable to get it right – there are four of main reasons why:

Firstly, insufficient expertise – when organisations are redesigning the customer journey, they often have limited knowledge of best practices, not only within their sector but across industries.

Secondly, companies often suffer from working in organisational silos. If different customer interaction channels are managed by different departments, it’s difficult to have a holistic 360° view in order to assess and improve the customer experience.

Thirdly, what we often see is that companies struggle to find the right blend of channels needed to interact with their customers and really understand the various behaviors of their customers, especially those who have a wide range of preferences for communication channels.

Finally, there can be added costs and complications – those that have identified the need to upgrade their front-end customer-facing platform find doing so can be costly and complicated to implement and integrate, while being difficult to maintain and can be limited by being on-premise.

However, having worked with several progressive companies which are embracing the challenge across industries, I have noticed there are three steps that can be taken to overcome these headwinds and enrich the customer experience in the digital revolution.

  1. Hire a Chief Customer Experience Officer

This person will oversee all your customer channels including digital, voice, and in-person interactions. In the role they will also be responsible for looking at the bigger picture in terms of other aspects of the business that encompass interaction, such as the CRM system, while also understand the competition that’s outside your sector. In companies that already have a Chief Customer Experience Officer, sometimes called CUO (Customer Chief User experience Officer) it may be a case of redefining their role to include communication channels that have arisen in the digital revolution.

  1. Keep it simple and start from zero

The phrase ‘wipe the slate clean’ has never been more appropriate. Rather than looking at your current status and trying to optimise what you have, start with your desired state and design your customer journeys around where you want to be. In the fast-paced (and ever-changing!) world we live in, this has never been more important.

  1. Work with the right partner

Your partner should be able to draw on best practices for effective media blending and offer training and change management to accelerate the transformation. Be sure you work with an organisation that has both the expertise to redesign the customer journey as well as harness cloud-based technologies (like Capgemini’s Odigo) to ensure your customers enjoy the same experience regardless of where they are based. You will benefit from new features as they emerge in the market.

Working with the right partners can help organisations move to a simplified operational cost model, improve sales and marketing decision-making via comprehensive, real-time analytics and reduce client retention costs through an improved Net Promoter Score.

Furthermore, it allows companies to improve customer loyalty and enhance their brand reputation using up to the minute service level monitoring with the help of intuitive dashboard tools and discrete recording and listening capabilities.

All of these benefits can make a real difference on the bottom line in the digital age, and should be ignored at your peril. When it comes to customer interactions, do not hesitate to enter the cloud world to reap the benefits of these modern solutions.

Companies that we can learn from

There are plenty of companies I’ve come across that are getting it right, and ensuring their customer experience is fit for purpose in this digital revolution.

Some are doing it with an enhanced multi-channel experience such as the French insurance company MGEN which facilities interaction through the customer’s choice of channel – web, chat, telephony. Rapidly changing offers and services are delivered fluidly to customers, keeping pace using natural language processing technology.

A more advanced example is that of Carrefour, the largest grocery chain in Europe, that has launched a programme called PIKIT. Pikit is a scanning device that allows customers to easily add items from their homes to their online grocery carts. So, when the milk gets finished or when cereal is running low, consumers just need to quickly scan the barcode to place the order. The device also has voice recognition technology, provided by Odigo, so consumers can speak into it to add new items to their list.

A second interesting case is French taxi company, Les Taxi Bleus, which let you arrange for a taxi at literally the click of a button. Les Taxis Blues provides hotels, restaurants, and shops with a button that can be placed in their reception area and when pressed, the nearest available taxi is immediately dispatched, saving their staff and customers both time and hassle.

In an increasingly competitive world, companies are continually striving for that aspect that makes them different to their competitors and this usually falls down to the service they deliver to their customer. Employing the right digital platform and the right tools can help you not only improve the service you offer already, increasing loyalty, but also attract new customers. It can help reduce costs and help improve sales and marketing decision via real-time analytics on your customer’s behaviour.

Your customer service function is your front line – and getting it right can open up an incredible shop window for your business.

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