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How quickly delight becomes expectation for customers

22nd May 2016
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Remember the first time you tracked your order online? It seemed amazing that something like that was possible. Today, it’s just what happens. Every new development we create in customer experience – every innovation – raises the bar in what our customers expect from us. We need to transform our business to do more than cope with the digital disruption around us. We have to be able to thrive.

We want to surprise and delight our customers but we need to constantly fulfil their expectations. A customer will forgive you for not delighting them during every interaction. However, continually fail to meet their expectations and you’re not going to keep that customer very long.

This fact was really brought home to me in a recent conversation I had with Marci Maddox. She’s the customer experience specialist at OpenText with over a decade of experience of working with companies to improve the experience they deliver to customers.

Incidentally, Marci was key speaker at a recent webinar entitled ‘From Drones to Smart Homes’. If you’re involved in customer experience I recommend listening to Marci as she has some incredible things to say on how companies deliver an excellent digital customer experience.

Living in a multi-channel digital world

Customer expectation is really driven by two things: the environment in which the customer lives – by which I mean how they live, work and communicate outside their interaction with you – and the level of experience you deliver to them. We know, today, that we live in a multi-channel digital world. That’s what our customers expect. They expect to be able to take full advantage of their digital channels. For example, they expect to be able to start an interaction on one channel and complete it on another and the entire experience to be seamless.

Consumers demand better and better digital customer experiences and many companies are struggling to cope. In fact, companies can easily become the architects of their own downfall. In a rush to provide continually improving external experiences, the company overlooks how closely tied external and internal processes actually are. In doing so, they set themselves up to disappoint the expectations of their customers.

Imagine that marketing has sold the dream of a new product. The customer goes online and has the perfect purchasing experience. Only, the product doesn’t get delivered when it should. When it does turn up, it’s damaged or, worse, it doesn’t live up to the initial promise. You have built the expectation and you have then undone all your good work.

In a world where brand loyalty is diminishing fast, that’s very dangerous. As customer experience expert Steven Van Belleghem says: “The amount of trust consumers put in brands is decreasing all the time, and a typical consumer will now switch brands without hesitation if they get a better offer.”

Digital transformation vs. business transformation

Too often, the reason this happens is that the company focuses so heavily on transforming the digital experience of the business without properly considering the transformation in internal processes needed to ensure its success. Another common occurrence is for the organisation to embark on a digital transformation project only to realise that it needs to align its internal processes.

The digital transformation project becomes a business transformation project and, somewhere along the line, the company loses visibility of the initial goal while it focuses on resolving long standing internal issues such as the many information silos that exist across the organisation.  

In both cases, the type of innovative digital customer experience that the company wants to deliver is frustrated. Marci suggests that a more productive and longer term strategy is to redefine what you mean by digital outside and inside your business. Don’t see separate digital transformation and business transformation projects. You can instead see then both as a single cross-functional process that flows seamlessly between customer behaviours and internal functions.  

In this way, you can respond effectively to the urgent challenge to build a business capable of meeting rising digital customer experience expectations.

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