Everyone's talking about customer centricity. We know it’s critical. We know it's the key to capturing a fickle audience of consumers. And we know we need to invest in it. But I believe Australian organisations need a paradigm shift in their thinking on how they transform the customer experience to create real value.
Historically, most investment in customer centricity has been made in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space. And understandably so. After all, the key to generating loyalty is enriching the online and mobile experience of an increasingly agile and informed consumer base. Organisations focus strongly on customer insights, using analytics to streamline their product offerings and distribution channels, measuring the customer experience and customer-centric design.
These are all powerful areas for directly improving the customer experience and have proven successful for many companies globally and in Australia; the next battleground will be improving business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-employee (B2E) capabilities that indirectly enable a better customer experience. There's so much that happens behind the scenes to enable a great front end B2C experience – if companies don't invest behind the scenes it will seriously inhibit the B2C experience at some point.
Regardless of how powerful and impressive your customer-facing front end is, your employees are the most significant factor in determining the customer experience.
Consequently, innovative organisations are investing in how they can make their employees more effective, how they can provide information to employees in real time right across their platforms to enable them to deliver better experiences to the customer. They're putting as much effort into the employee's journey as the customer journey, mapping out pain points, removing barriers and focusing on behavioural design that benefits your team.
This is a very new approach in Australia. Most companies here are only just starting to invest in automation and employee-centric design. But it's so important, because it's the next frontier of competitive advantage. By reducing non-value adding activities, your team has more time to focus on creating value through high touch customer interaction.
This is where gamification can also be very effective in motivating and rewarding employees to improve the customer experience. We believe that applied appropriately, gamification has a role to play in helping to engage people, encourage behaviours and achieve specific objectives. Gamification essentially uses elements from games in non-game settings to achieve business objectives. It uses both financial and non-financial rewards to build awareness in staff of services and capabilities, close knowledge gaps and test knowledge bases.
Some organisations use gamification with consumers. For example, BBVA, a Spanish bank, is using gamification techniques to teach customers about banking products and drive growth. Others use it internally to drive better behaviours. SAP uses gamification to educate sales representatives to better respond to customer questions.
Businesses customers are also demanding the level of service and the seamless fluidity they experience when they have an individual customer experience. If you’re used to Apple and iTunes, you're not likely to be satisfied if your digital business experience is several rungs below that. Those overseeing B2B interactions want the same kind of interaction and the same ease of use as individual consumers. Currently, most large Australian businesses aren't delivering that well on this expectation.
It is a complex challenge, but there's real competitive advantage for organisations that pursue this strategy.
It's time for some lateral thinking on the customer experience, and for organisations to open their eyes to how inextricably linked employees and customers of all types are. The customer experience is a far more nuanced dynamic than many recognise, and those companies that want to excel in the digital age will need to think very broadly about what improving customer experience really means.