With expectations running higher than ever, no industry is exempt from the challenge to deliver the ultimate customer experience.
You may remember that YouTube movie of a toddler turning pages in a glossy magazine and trying to zoom in on these pages. She is disappointed to find out that pinching, tapping and swiping doesn't work on a magazine and simply considers her magazine to be a broken iPad.
It's a great way to think about how people - not only toddlers - nowadays have extreme expectations from digital technology. We all expect seamless, uninterrupted and tailor made services in every aspect of life. Oh, and preferably at zero cost. The image of the toddler should in fact be on top of mind of every CEO, in every sector, as it reminds them of the growing importance of customer experience (CX).
CX is definitely not just a new marketing buzz word, it's the strategic lifeline of every company in today's digital world. Each company has two options to differentiate their offering in the marketplace. Option one is to strive for the best customer experience. Option two is to offer the lowest price. Understandably, most CEO's prefer not to be in the race to the bottom in price and will favour the route of enhancing customer experience.
The good news is that digital channels offer them a realm of possibilities to reach out to customers, enabling next levels of CX. The ubiquity of mobile devices means that they can engage with customers anytime, anyplace. Organizations that implement digital strategies should take the customer perspective a leading and ask themselves: how can digital services enhance their experience in every aspect? One of the trendsetters in the CX domain is Amazon.com. The company has been streamlining CX for many years, for instance by introducing the one-click buy process many years ago (and patenting this concept). A few years ago, Amazon patented a new concept. The name - anticipatory shipment - is both intriguing and promising. Apparently, Amazon envisions a future of shipping stuff to you before you have even ordered it, thus reaching new levels of predictive analysis.
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos knows that digital customers are never satisfied and his extensive letter to shareholders shows just how hard it is to keep up with fast changing consumer behaviour and expectations. One thing is for sure: consumers demand a positive experience, exceeding the transactional relationships of the past.
Many CEO's understand this very well. But a rather noteworthy phenomenon is that in some sectors, they feel that this shift doesn't apply to them. That's where they're wrong. The shift is not just a matter of technology conquering the hearts and minds of consumers. The shift is also that every company now has to think from the perspective of their end-customers. Beerbrewers, ice cream factories, sneaker giants or bike producers can no longer be satisfied with delivering their products to their (retail) partners in an efficient manner. They simply must understand their end customers to the last bit as well and develop new business models and products to deliver this seamless customer experience. CX is therefore not just a challenge for consumer oriented firms such as Amazon and Apple but also for BMW and Unilever. In order to develop a CX strategy that is wholly customer-centric, they must possess a deep knowledge of its consumers' emotions, behaviours and sensibilities. This is an on-going process and one that demands close monitoring, as expectations and emotional responses shift over time. Organisations that understand and deliver against our The Six Pillars model have proven to deliver enhanced outcomes, grow more quickly and deliver greater shareholder value.
For some companies, this may be one of the biggest challenges in terms of organizational change as this is contrary to how they have operated for decades. For many years, their main perspective was to improve their own processes, rather than to optimise customer experience with the help of digital tooling. Many of them now have started to sell directly to consumers - sometimes even blending their offerings with products form the competition. By doing so, they can enhance brand value and collect massive amounts of customer data. This data can then be used to understand customer behaviour and further optimize experience. This is the best way to make sure that expectations are met, or even surpassed. Even the expectations of a toddler who doesn't settle for less than the maximum experience…