The stakes have never been higher for organisations in pursuit of a seamless digital customer experience. In rapidly evolving business and technological landscapes, companies must use the starting point of the customer if they are to survive.
“If you're competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.” – Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder).
Australian companies lose more than $40 billion per year due to poor customer experience (EY, Cost of Complaining Report, 2014). Organisations are seeking to gain a competitive advantage wherever they can, in a world where margins are decreasing and competition is global.
Digital Customer Experience
Digital Customer Experience (DCX) is a discipline that is seldom utilised by organisations, despite being invaluable in today’s rapidly evolving economy. DCX is an approach to customer service. Every industry that provides an offering to users external to the organisation benefits from implementing this philosophy.
Top companies implement DCX by dissecting the customer journey to address core customer needs. This involves the view of a customer ecosystem – rather than isolated customer touchpoints. Interaction with the customer can be digitalised across the entire relationship lifecycle. Dominos is an example of a company that was agile and identified a need to change after poor customer feedback. It revamped its entire processes and now takes 50% of orders online or via mobile apps. It has also enlisted the help of an external provider to collate data insights on stores, coupons and activity used to develop marketing tools. The company has introduced a pizza tracker for customers to view where their pizza is. They are now looking at significant growth in both profit and stock figures.
A DCX strategy is more flexible and diverse than improving legacy processes. Questioning the status quo drives innovation. DCX best practices interrogate existing norms, rules and regulations, to determine the ideal customer experience. An omni-channel approach to innovation leads to success. The first wave of digitalisation was pioneered by Amazon and eBay – bringing products online. The second wave is digitising customer service, which is upon us. The third wave offers the possibility of integrating the user within the digital experience.
Customer success is the new buzz phrase in the DCX space. Organisations are focusing on minimising customer frustration or need for online support. Customers increasingly expect to be self-sufficient. Organisations need to make their online offerings as intuitive and usable as possible. Further, organisations are seeking to preempt issues and fix them before the customer notices – proactive customer service. Software now alerts organisations to risks of a customer’s experience being adversely affected. For example, if a payment integration for a website has lost connection, the website should notify the organisation before the customer reaches that section. Customer loyalty and trust stems from being accountable and agile in rectifying issues.
Organisations that use web analytics can identify where customers are most frequently leaving the website or spending a significant amount of time. This can increase the likelihood of the customer successfully interacting with the organisation’s online offering, which subsequently increases the likelihood of repeat customers.
Users increasingly experience customised offerings and it is now an expectation for all digital interactions. Big data offers a plethora of opportunities to track customer preferences, journeys and history. We are able to make simple connections to create a better experience. For example, the shoe brand Brooks Running reduced their product return rate by 80% after they created an automatic shoe size chart for users that had shoes in their cart that had different sizes. This improved customer satisfaction, with 88% of those surveyed saying they appreciated this customer experience strategy.
Customers want a response now. In fact, they want a response yesterday. The business that responds the quickest, that is the most helpful and supportive, is the business that will win the customer. Customers want convenience. The most intuitive website – the one that has considered the customer journey and has designed it accordingly – is the website that the customer will return to.
Jetstar introduced webchat to help customers with choosing their holiday packages in 2011. Due to its success in achieving a 90% customer satisfaction rate, they extended this offering in 2012, to assist those having difficulties with online flight bookings.
Companies are adjusting their focus towards the evolving customer. Businesses that embrace this perspective shift are more successful than companies that simply use the most technology. Startups can shape their organisation from the digitally-savvy customer – Uber and Airbnb identified how they could disrupt a traditional industry using the digital customer starting point. Existing companies can transform their organisation to explore digital opportunities at each customer touchpoint. Bringing together a range of people in different fields generates fresh thinking.
Companies are never done. A product is never finished. Companies now need to launch their Minimum Viable Product and seek to develop iteratively. Customer feedback is hard – but it is invaluable. The business that views their business model as a continuous cycle of develop, offer, get feedback, then develop again, is less likely to become redundant. The most referenced example is Kodak, where they were at the forefront of photography, but failed to move with the digital wave and eventually became bankrupt. Nokia experienced a similar situation when they were unable to move with the iPhone. The digital disruption is imminent. Only organisations that embrace this will survive.