Customer experience (CX) is one of the integral ways in which a company can distinguish itself from its competitors. It is therefore imperative for a product or services company to offer top-notch customer experiences, in addition to meeting emerging customer requirements with new and advanced technologies.

In this post, we present a few important aspects of CX, and how technology can assist in enhancing it, drawing from recent studies by research and advisory firm Forrester, and international consultancy firm, KPMG.

CX involves the way clients feel about the quality of your product, customer service, ease of doing business, and all other interactions with your company.

Forrester’s Amit Bhatia describes CX as “how customers perceive their interactions with your company”, and also the sum of all their interactions – it could be your app, your brochure, how your receptionist welcomed them when they visited you, and so on.

Why is CX important?

Speaking at a recent NASSCOM event, Bhatia explained how customer experience impacts revenue. Data, he said, shows that the leader in CX outgrows the CX laggard in almost all industry segments. Recent studies also show that if you improve the CX by 1 point, it results in very significant additional revenues and margins (by reducing costs).

He pointed out that there are some constants in which one had to excel – research, prioritization, design, enablement of delivery, measurement and culture.  Of this, he added, “culture trumps tools and processes”.

CX, he said, is made of three elements – effectiveness, ease and emotion, of which emotion plays the most significant role. Customers are likely to remember how they feel when they used your product or service, and when they interacted with your employees. The better the experience, the more likely a customer will become loyal to your offering.

At times, one can overcome a below par product experience with exceptional customer experience.

In the foreword to a KPMG Global Customer Experience Excellence report, released earlier this year, Julio J. Hernandez, Head of Global Customer Centre of Excellence, and US Customer Advisory Lead for KPMG in the US, writes: “In today’s hypercompetitive and customer-centric world, it is those who know the most about their customers and harness this knowledge who achieve the greatest success”.

The report, titled ‘Tomorrow’s experience, today’ describes the challenge facing CEOs now – while “new experiences and new competitors are continuously resetting customer expectations”, new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, bots, predictive analytics, et al, “are radically changing the way brands engage and interact with their customers”.

The report shares the results of a multi-country CX survey – based on the responses of nearly 55,000 consumers across 14 countries (online survey, completed in Q4 2017). According to the report, the leading CX brands include: Marriott (ranked 1st in Mexico), Navy Federal Credit Union (ranked 1st in the US), Singapore Airlines (1st in Australia), Farmlands Co-operative (New Zealand), Apple Store (Italy), QVC UK (The UK), Alipay (China) and Emirates (UAE).

The report states that the brands that offer top customer experiences “are those that are committed to matching emerging customer needs with advanced technologies…whether through innovation labs, experimentation or advanced ethnographic design”.

AI, Machine Learning, bots, predictive analytics and innovative digital applications all play their part in the leading firms’ technology palette, it says.

Customer expectations and new technologies

In a global survey of CEOs conducted by KPMG International, one in three said they are “actively repositioning their brand to respond to the expectations of millennials”.

KPMG recommends that organizations should study the needs of millennials, Generation Z and their respective parents. For example, the report describes the ‘Baby Boomer Echo Effect’ – parents being educated by their children rather than the other way around (in the case of digital, social media and advanced technologies).

Businesses “seeking to capitalize” on this demographic effect should deliver a “mobile, unified and digitized customer experience that is affordable, sustainable and meaningful”. AI, chat bots and virtual agents, voice synthesis and a range of Machine Learning technologies provide a platform for engaging this group, it says.

The KPMG CX report indicates four areas where technologies play a significant role in CX:

• Equipping employees with the tools and information to successfully resolve customer inquiries at first point of contact.

• Delivering high levels of customer personalization and engagement throughout the customer journey.

• Pre-empting customer problems using remote diagnostics and Internet-enabled technologies.

• Improving customer interaction and complaint resolution by enabling multiple mechanisms for contact.

In conclusion, as Forrester’s Bhatia recommends, it is important to remain “obsessed” with your customers, as “Once expectations rise, they never come down”.

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