With only 8% of customers believing that they are actually receiving a good customer experience, in the US, this perception gap could be losing businesses an estimated $1.6 trillion every year, increasing significantly, when taking the UK and other parts of the world into consideration.
The reality is that the pandemic has placed even more pressure on businesses to deliver the same or better customer experience, whilst undergoing numerous changes, such as creating structures with the ability to respond quickly due to the new circumstances, creating new ways of working leveraging available technology and managing staff shock, whilst cashflows were severely hit.
Some companies were caught short by the requirement to digitilise quickly, in the bid to withstand the pandemic.
Accelerated digitalization took on a whole new meaning, for many, this meant moving their workforce to a working from home structure, repositioning services and for others this presented opportunities for creating new digital offerings.
This digitalization agenda, created a whole host of realisations for business leaders. The constraint of being held back by technologies and practices that were restricted to being delivered from their sites, or with a combined on premise cloud solution that did not always integrate well with each other, in addition to the challenge of delivering the same level of service and customer/user experience whilst operating remotely.
The problem was not limited to one sector, all sectors were affected. Private, government, not for profit, amongst others. Rapid digital transformation initiatives focused on delivering business as usual, became the norm, in response to the unprecedented situation in which they found themselves. Perceived thrills and nice to haves were pushed to the side.
There is much that can be learned and applied both from the pandemic and beyond. So here are a few do’s and don’ts for your consideration.
Do consider cloud solutions that gives your business the ability to respond to market and customer changes, quickly
Think cloud, but the type that enables your business to rapidly respond to market or even customer changes.
More speed, agility, scalability, integration, and cost-savings should be baseline requirements, but not all cloud solutions are built the same. This raises the question of what do business and CX leaders really want for their business, is it simply, the desire to save money by shifting on premises systems from a capital expense to an operating expense, saving enterprises the added financial burden of capital expense costs. Or given the learnings from Covid, is it to build a digital experience that is able to thrive in a constantly evolving digital workspace, where time matters more than ever.
Migrating complex on premises solutions into a cloud hosted environment does not always solve the problem of speedy response to rapid change. It is vital therefore for business leaders to reconsider their approach to design, deploy and migrate from one that is focused on reinforcing the old change control practices, that traditionally slow down deployment. Causing delay in the delivery of innovation, necessary changes, potential enhancements to customer experience, whilst placing pressure on already under pressure staff and as importantly, cause delays, that could give competitors a head start.
Do adapt your business models to meet the changing market and consumer landscape
The market is constantly evolving and perhaps the pre pandemic ways of doing business are no longer fit for purpose, we are seeing new business models in certain sectors such as car insurance, where premiums are set based on driver behaviour. This has been made possible by technology and the demand for personalised consumer pricing. Considering such an option, will require changes to current ways of working, in addition to drive the demand for new roles i.e. software engineers, chief data officer etc. This trend is not just limited to insurance, we are seeing it evolve into many sectors, including, consumer products, security, government amongst others.
Think digital customer experience
Do start thinking about your customer experience strategy and how this will be affected by the growing digital customer
Customer experience is your customers’ perception of how your company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings to drive their loyalty. The reality is that since the pandemic, more consumers are migrating to digital channels and their expectations from companies are even greater than previous, service on demand, relevance and of course data security.
Implementing Digital Customer experience strategies is a new frontier for many businesses, from those already mature in their delivery of customer experience through to the growing innovation led companies who are making the transition from product centric structures to customer focused approaches, driven by innovation such as Product as a Service, AI and 5G amongst others. The right structure, underpinned with the right technologies can help drive out cost, enable better use of data, provide customer personalization, real time, without being intrusive and of course build customer engagement, trust. All highly necessary to grow lifetime customer value and a continuously evolving customer experience.
Do make it easier for customers to self-serve
In 2021, companies should ensure that customers are able to find answers to their questions using a wide-range of self-service options.
Customers are willing to find the answers themselves. So much so, that by 2030, Gartner estimates that a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots.
To handle this demand, companies are turning to Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In 2019, 25% of all customer interactions were automated through AI and machine learning. With 90% of companies now planning to deploy AI within 3 years, this number is expected to grow to 40% by 2023.
In the short-term, you need to make sure that when a customer has a problem, the right tools are easily available to them, using their channel of choice, so they can solve it, themselves.
In the long-term, you need to think about how AI and technology can help you improve customer experience. AI is not the golden chalice as some would believe, I have seen some poorly deployed AI initiatives which have had the effect of hurting the customer and costing the business in lost revenue. So getting the right structure in place is vital.
Do make data privacy a priority for your business
The pandemic has resulted in more users moving online to perform transactions than ever before, 64 per cent of global consumers have increased their use of tech since the pandemic began, with 47 per cent using apps and tech solutions they would not have previously used due to data privacy concerns.
For businesses this presents an opportunity to either enhance existing digital channels or create alternatives for their customer base, but may also come with some risk. This risk relates to the significant increase in data both internally generated in addition to those generated through alternative channels such as mobile and even GPS generated location data.
For some businesses, this overload of data has enabled them to gather insight that tracks consumer online activity and at the same time provides opportunities to present specific services, products and information based on online and offline activity, as seen by the contact tracing service launched during the pandemic. To a certain degree, this presents a gold rush of opportunity, however, with this excess data comes added responsibility and potential risks.
Consumers are increasingly aware of their rights, and while data privacy regulation has been a source of anxiety in the past, businesses are increasingly used to and even excited for future regulation. These build consumer trust and can even improve data processing efficiency.
According to the company’s Global Consumer State of Mind Report 2021, which captures the views of 8000 consumers across the UK, Brazil, France, South Korea and the USA, 62 per cent of consumers stated they would feel more reassured to engage with a brand or product if it was officially certified according to a data privacy standard. This figure increases to 63 per cent in the UK.
There are significant opportunities for those companies that get it right. Research shows that 60 per cent of people added that they would spend more money with a brand that they trust with their personal data and 65% would be more likely to engage with a brand that tells them exactly what they will do with their personal data.
And finally, the Don’t
Don’t expect existing practices or minor workarounds to be sufficient to handle the onslaught of changes that are rapidly occurring due to the increase in digitalization. This simply will not work. According to research, 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail, costing companies in time, wasted productivity, financial loss and of course loss of that all-important staff and stakeholder goodwill.
There are many opportunities available to enhance customer experience and create business models that are responsive to the increased digitalization and other significant changes.
However for business and CX leaders to fully exploit this and achieve the financial benefit, it is vital to put in place the right strategies, underpinning infrastructure, flexible supporting technologies and right support. The combination of these factors will go a long way to enhance competitive position for now and in the years to come.