Farhan Syed, a Partner in our Lower Gulf practice who leads our digital transformation practice, explains the opportunities arising from improving digitalization and enhancing customer experiences.
Leading companies across the region are increasing investments to enhance their customer experience, striving to stand out in a crowded marketplace. In fact, globally, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the number one brand differentiator within the next five years – with roughly nine out of ten organizations saying they expect to be competing primarily not on price but on the basis of how they interact with customers.
As customer experience rises in importance, organizations have to understand the value it brings - to both the customer and to the organization. Regionally, many organizations seem to believe that investments in improving the customer experience do not generate enough value or provide an acceptable return on investment. However, I would argue – and experience seems to suggest – that organizations need to determine the right balance between what customers expect and what makes sense – financially and otherwise - for companies to deliver.
At KPMG, we consider customer experience to be the sum of all the experiences - over the duration of a relationship - a customer has with an organization. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy. By knowing and understanding a customer’s preferences, businesses can create a powerful emotional bond that, if nurtured, leads to engagement and advocacy and therefore a stronger and more durable customer relationship.
“Customer experience is about how you make your customer feel. It is about delivering on meaningful customer promises. Every day.”
The growth of technologies, interconnectedness and globalization have given customers more control of their interactions with businesses and organizations. At KPMG, we believe that delivering customer excellence at each step of the journey will drive customer loyalty, growth and profitability. It also – nearly always - involves going digital: using technology to move away from using organization-centric products and services to interact with customers and putting power in their hands.
It is important to stress that different countries – and even areas within countries - across the MESA region are at different points of the customer experience journey in terms of digital readiness, digital adoption and digital spend. There are also high disparities in terms of investments in digital. In some countries and industries, the public sector is driving the process. In others, governments are encouraging the private sector to drive the process (as we tend to see in more developed Western economies). However, it is possible to make some generalizations: people across the region are increasingly using smartphones; online spending (sometimes admittedly from a very low base) is growing in double digits; and the internet is quickly becoming established as a human right. This is a global trend which is going to have a significant impact across MESA.
Quite simply, organizations that get this the customer experience journey right – by using individualized attention to drive an emotional connection; managing meeting and exceeding customer expectations; minimizing customer effort and creating frictionless processes; turning poor experiences into great ones; and achieving an understanding of a customer’s experiences to drive deep rapport - will be able to optimize spend and investments while delivering winning customer experiences.
We help organizations design and implement their customer experience strategy and governance. We assist them in their internal transformation to improve customer experience KPIs, drive customer advocacy and enhance customer satisfaction by transforming their customer-centric operating models and customer loyalty programs and developing customer experience measurement frameworks. These efforts are not limited to the private sector. We work with public sector entities to assess compliance with national excellence frameworks, helping to identify gaps and opportunities to improve smart services delivery, drive customer happiness and exceed defined excellence standards. Amongst other things, this means we help develop service excellence strategies and operating models, design and implement employee engagement programs, digitize and optimize customer service programs and develop customer happiness measurement frameworks.