A smile goes a long way. Studies have shown that a smile can improve customer confidence by up to 10% i. When you laugh with a customer, it improves mood even more and the customer is likely to go back with a great impression. Businesses and sales people have always recognized the importance of delivering great customer experience (CX). Unfortunately, in a virtual world, where social distances are increasing, it is not always possible to serve customers with a smile. This is why investing in technology—that can deliver much more than a smile—to enhance CX is becoming extremely important.
There is hard evidence to support this: A Salesforce survey found that 67% of customers were willing to pay more for a great experience. The same survey also found that a poor experience can have a cascading effect—62% of those who encounter a bad experience said they share it with others ii. In fact, Customer Experience Management (CXM) will be at the very top of the business agenda for organizations in 2020 along with better pricing and quality of products and services.
Getting closer to customers and employees
The push for improved CX needs to be viewed in the light of changing expectations. Once, it was adequate to have customers search for products on portals, place them in their shopping carts and pay for it. More is expected from e-commerce portals now. They are expected to automatically make recommendations and surface better options for customers based on their online behavior, needs, intent, purchase patterns, trends observed in peers and payment preferences. This means analyzing data in near real-time to go beyond delivering simple search results.
Similarly, organizations are attempting to improve the employee journey from the pre-interview stage to onboarding, training and exit. To do this, they conduct regular employee surveys that capture information at every stage. The goal is to get closer to the employee and improve engagement, retention and productivity. A classic example of this is when an organization asks a new applicant why he/she is applying to the company (possibly at the time the applicant is uploading the resume). The response can place extremely valuable information in the hands of the recruiting team.
Organizations are attempting to provide information to their sales and marketing teams that can improve brand experience, thereby improving brand value; human capital management teams are capturing employee information so that the workforce can relate more closely with organizational values.
Product and service management teams are equally concerned about delivering CX that aids in achieving business targets and goals. To do this, they need answers to questions such as “Am I reaching out to customer with the right product and service?” and “Which of my customers can provide feedback that will help me create better products and services?” Leading businesses like Nike and BMW are keen to know how their premium customers are using their products, what they want next and how they can boost brand experience by meeting their expectations.
Using technology to boost CX
CX is become vital and is playing a significant role, especially in Retail, Media, Manufacturing and the Pharma industries. This has been amplified in the light of the digital transformation wave that is currently under way. Embracing digital implies changing processes around CX and deploying technology to achieve CX goals. One analyst report forecasts that by 2022, two-thirds of all CX projects will make use of IT, up from 50 percent in 2017 iii.
Many of these ideas and concepts, business imperatives and must-haves, around CX are well understood. The challenge for organizations is to ensure that systems that capture data related to CX are integrated with their ERP. This will ensure a rapid response based on what data suggests. Among the more advanced CXM platforms that does this is Qualtrics (recently acquired by SAP). It focuses on customer, employee, product and brand experience data, combines it with insights from ERP, websites/ portals and operational data to generate experiences with great precisions. For organizations hoping to build a customer-focused work culture, Qualtrics-type CXM tools and technologies are becoming critical.
It is equally important to have a technology partner that understands the role of CX and additionally has the experience of implementing and supporting a variety of CRM and ERP systems. This makes it easier to go beyond vertical CRM systems and leveraging ERP to help understand markets, customers and employees—and then accurately calibrating CX journeys backed by template-based content and collateral that aid in the improvement of CX.
The goal of all CXM is to make the journey for customers and employees intuitive, satisfying, happy and memorable. Great CXM can support premium pricing, lead to higher revenues, improved loyalty, referenceability, creating brand ambassadors, lowering the cost of customer acquisition, extracting higher customer lifetime value (CLV), boosting customer satisfaction (CSAT), building an unassailable business differentiator and even impacting stock prices.
There are entirely new technologies that are reshaping customer experience. These include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), Voicebot interaction, and increased access to customer data. CX, without doubt, presents an exciting, sophisticated and rapidly evolving business opportunity. The trick is to understand your customers, capture their feedback/ sentiments, make an emotional connect and act upon the feedback and their sentiments to deliver great CX across channels.