Evolve or Become Extinct

Evolution – That seems like a long way away!

I can guarantee you this title isn’t some ploy to get you to buy new software or services. We can also confirm that nobody will be threatened or harmed as a result of this article. Evolution however is a topic that we come across very frequently, as well as the results of companies who ignored it! Whilst it has always been the case that businesses need to move with the times. It applies more than ever in todays new digital world. An era where customers are more connected than ever before and one where the expectation level is higher by more demanding customers!

Digital has been on the agenda for the last couple of years and is now joined by Customer Experience and Insights as the CEO’s top 3 priorities. Whether it is transforming the digital experience of a global bank, or changing the patient experience of a healthcare provider, everyone seems to be finally waking up to the need to deliver a fantastic experience or they will be replaced by someone who can. With the top 3 initiatives all focussed on the customer, why is it that businesses seem to be failing to keep up?

Well there is a long way to go before the acknowledgement turns into action. Even longer before the culture of some businesses change. 95% of the C-Suite have accepted that customer experience is one of the top 3 priorities for their companies, yet only 37% of companies have an active strategy to improve it! Customer Experience is expected to be the key diffentiator over product and price by 2020, although that trend is already quite advanced. Product & price are now so similar that competitive advantage is pretty slim in those areas. Leaving the biggest difference in market competition as the experience a customer receives. Enterprises are slowly realising they need to be leading the pack around the customer experience. Otherwise a competitor or start up that does prioritise this will step in and replace them.

So why the lack of investment in customer strategy then?

With competition for budget spend across all other initiatives it is often a casualty in the budget process. So how do you get customer initiatives to be the top of the agenda and prove its ROI against competing priorities? The ROI has previously been quite difficult to prove vs more traditional product launches or projects that have tangible business cases built on years of experience. How do you convince the business your initiatives are as important than the ones already on the table and that they should get the investment required?

Fortunately, there is a lot more information and facts available to use from companies who have embraced the importance of the customer. Commercial gain is possible alongside improved customer satisfaction. We collect these cases and have some we call The Distinguished Dozen for you to get started with.

What are the key hygiene factors though that you should focus on to be successful with your customer programme?

People

If your company wants to deliver a consistently superior experience it must be in the lifeblood of the company. It should flow through the whole company as a cultural belief. The investment needs to be key in also the employee experience in order for it to flow through into the customer experience. From induction training and inspirational leadership, through to empowerment and ownership of the customer at all levels. It should start from the top and be replicated by all leaders in the business. So if the board and senior leaders are not engaged in this mind-set then you will be doomed from the outset. 29% of failed CX initiatives cited a lack of senior leader’s support. Therefore, the most important place to start is at the C-Suite to get some powerful advocates behind your strategy. Pushing the agenda should also become much easier once the senior team are behind your initiatives!

It is also no surprise to find that companies with highly engaged employees deliver a better customer experience. In fact, companies who deliver a superior customer experience have 2.5x more employees who are engaged than those who don’t hit the mark with their customers. With another 30% of all failed customer programmes being linked to a lack of employee engagement, it is clear to see that you need to focus on engaging the workforce if you are to be successful in your new customer programme!

Process

It is important for a business that decides to transition the customer experience, to take with them an approach that is prepared to change more than just technology. Their processes and procedures need to be adjusted into a new routine in order to reach their goals. 31% of failed programmes found that the business failed to modify key processes in the change programme, which contributed to its downfall. I’m not saying it is easy to manage change though. People become comfortable with it at different timeframes and it affects them in different ways. Depending on how mature the processes are and how long people have been following them, it may be very difficult to change old habits. But stick with it. Make sure you leave enough time to journey map of all the business processes and that this important step is considered as part of the programme. Don’t just map processes though. Both the customer and the employee journeys need mapping. Remember to include emotion and behaviour as well as transactional touchpoints. The importance of bringing the people on this journey cannot be under estimated. Make sure to leave enough time to bring the hearts and minds of people along the journey as the systems and process change.

Technology

Customers have very different expectations now as to how they interact with the companies they use. They expect you will be willing and able to deliver across all channels. Market leaders are now offering integrated CRM and Omni-channel solutions, meaning customers get a personalised, hassle free experience. Gone are the days when multi-channel is good enough. Today’s customers are more tech savvy than ever. They are using technology on the go as part of their daily routine. More often than not the consumer starts the buying process on their phone, move to desktop, maybe even to tablet before visiting the retail store. It has become a different way of interacting with the companies we allow into our lives and businesses need to change to accommodate it. If you are not mobile responsive, then you better get busy doing that now!

So what are the stats telling us? Well, 86% of customers now use multiple channels to engage with the companies they choose. 37% of all transactions start from a mobile device, but they could end up being completed on any device. Over 58% of internet search is now done on mobile devices and that doesn’t even include laptops! Customers expect to jump from device to device, channel to channel and still get the same consistent level of care and service. The time for these channels all to be linked is more prevalent than ever. Those who are lagging behind with investment in these areas are seriously going to struggle! We now live in an age where smartphone and tablets are our daily technology. Where the adult population is steadily becoming digitally native. Customers expect nothing less than an integrated customer experience across all channels. One where it is easy to do business with your company. With this in mind make sure your company has an appropriate technology roadmap to go with the customer programme. Don’t leave it to chance that it’ll be ok, because your competitors aren’t!

Evolution – Is it worth the investment?

Well, whether you like it or not customer expectations and channel shift are happening. Customer behaviour is changing and becoming more demanding all the time. Customers expect to be empowered to make decisions, use whatever channel is convenient for them at that moment in time, and receive consistent experiences across all channels. Loyalty and retention is now gained by offering a USP differentiated by the experience.

Make it special, personalised and easy to do business and you will gain advocates, share of customer’s wallet and increased market share. Fail to evolve your proposition and you will be playing Russian roulette as to how long your customers stay with you, before moving to one of your competitors.

Evolve or become extinct, the decision of course is yours!

https://www.vmbvoom.com/pitches/beyond-brand

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