Multiple studies that map US corporate performance over the years indicate that the topple rate has never been higher. (Topple rate is the rate at which the group of leading companies, whether in industries or in market indexes, changes over time.) More top companies today are facing obsolescence, not just because their product or service is losing relevance, but perhaps because the experience they offer to their customers has not kept pace with the changing times. The ‘digital’ part of the customer experience has never been more critical to success.
It is widely accepted that digital customer experience is the key to engaging with and delighting customers in today's hyper-connected marketplace. But it is only now that enterprises are beginning to map the contours of customer experience and how it will impact the way businesses globally in the not-too-distant future. This article looks at how the effort and emotion associated with customer experience shape the perception of the enterprise, with a view to evolve to a systemic model that integrates effort and emotion into the design of a better customer experience.
To begin with, transaction-led interactions are not the only Customer Experience that an enterprise should consider critical. Let us take an example of a customer planning a holiday. The experience of evaluating holiday packages before actually buying one is an interaction that is information-led, and may lead to a transaction in future. When a customer uses an interface to give feedback on that holiday package, either on social media or on the company's digital asset, it is an interaction that could affect transaction decisions of other potential customers. Each interaction has an effort associated with it: effort being the mind-space a customer has to dedicate to the task of interacting with the enterprise. The outcome of the interaction leads to an emotion, either positive or negative. For example, in our holiday package example, easily available information, a hassle-free booking experience or a simple feedback mechanism is likely to lead to positive emotions at the end of the effort.
Some may argue that the journey of effort to emotion only holds true in the B2C scenario. However, the truth is that we are selling to human beings fraught with emotion, whether they are buying collaboratively or individually. While a B2B customer journey is not as easy to visualize, the interplay of collective emotion among the decision makers remains the same as in a B2C scenario. B2B customer experience design has the task of taking into account the effort put into the experience across team from procurement, finance, end-users and other stakeholders, and making these interactions result in positive emotion in these individuals.
The proliferation of media in our lives today has resulted in a trend where the amount of effort a customer is willing to put into an enterprise interaction has dropped drastically. If the holiday package information does not instantly load on a mobile device, the customer is likely to go to competition far quicker than in the past. What's more, the impact that the resulting emotion can have on the enterprise has skyrocketed with the ability of a single customer to influence purchase decisions of others like her. The always-on availability of digital and social channels enables emotion to be amplified manifold almost instantly.
So is there a way to traverse the tricky path of effort to positive emotion in the design of customer experience? Yes, it lies in the effective engagement that steers a customer from feeling the need to interact with an organization to feeling overwhelmingly positive about the interaction.