Understanding Customer for a Notable Customer Experience

Parameswaran E. K., Head- Innovation, Servion Global Solutions | Thursday, 16 June 2016, 09:19 IST

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The word ‘customer experience’ has been receiving heightened attention these days. I am not sure however if the enterprises have started viewing it as a long-term competitive lever. A lot of focus currently is going towards making a customer’s purchasing cycle less effortful, spectacularly multi-sensorial, and reasonably personalized. The same attention is not however showered once the prospect becomes a customer. To a customer, an enterprise is an experiential whole.  He does not see it from the siloed perspective of how an enterprise's internal functions work. He need not!  If enterprises decide to drive experience along the complete lifecycle of a customer, through several journeys the consumer takes during this lifecycle, and the innumerable moments of truth within a journey, comprehensively and holistically I am sure overall value enhancement is possible. The trick is not to succumb to short-term gains provided by focusing only on a part of the above.

A customer experiences an enterprise a number of times during his relationship. Some while he is buying; some while he uses an already bought product or service; and some during the post-sale phase.  In fact, he experiences different parts of an enterprise and via different interaction mediums. He may be interacting with the marketing in a walk in the branch, a sales function while on a website, with the customer service function while on the phone and maybe a special team while he comments on the social media. Often times the intelligence derived from all these interactions are sitting in the respective functions, making it difficult for the enterprise to get a holistic view of the customer’s interaction and at the same time projecting a disjointed image of the enterprise to the customer.  A centralized platform that can address this issue will help in reducing the gap between what the consumer expects with his experience, thereby fundamentally improving brand image and contributing to
customer advocacy.

Customer experience should be true to the brand that the enterprise stands for. If the customer experience in the last mile has to be unique and non-imitable, one has to trace it back to the brand of the enterprise and the related strategy and see if that is essentially non-imitable. Once you solve that, you have then to cascade the brand attributes down every layer of decision making in an enterprise to point at which it eventually meets the customer.

The experience of working on several customer interactions ecosystems of enterprises world over has helped us with several insights. While there is a lot of focus on closing a specific customer request within time, there is very little time spent on building a context around a specific issue. And even if the customer ventures to explain that voluntarily, tight goals on operational metrics like the AHT don’t incentivize the service agent to spend more time. So today there is a lot of focus to bypass this problem by using analytical models to contextualize and predict intent.  While this will shorten the time to react, we think that a huge overhaul in the underlying operational metrics is required to refocus the system on customer experience and resolution.

Also, several issues require long fulfillment chains to effectively resolve a customer query. However, the resolution itself is split into several “mini-resolution” pockets along the fulfillment chain and progressively building towards a final resolution. It probably starts with a call center, and travels further into field service and even into deep back end teams, each reporting a portion of the overall resolution. However for a customer, the resolution is a single whole. He may not have the patience to break it into pieces thereby catering to the comfort of an enterprise’s way of working.

There are several trends that will shape customer experience in the year 2016. Some of them include:

• More brands are expected to begin incorporating human element in their interactions. More seemingly human-like interactions as well as machine-to-machine communication, that simulates human behavior, is expected to lead the way.

•Social media will get even more popular for customer interactions. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will provide adequate room for brands to drive and manage their customers’ experience.

•To exceed customer expectations, brands must provide relevant experience across all
channel-journey combinations.

•Analytics will play a pivotal role in customer experience. Significant insights derived from a collation of a large amount of data will help deliver personalized responses by foreseeing customer’s intent.

•Interaction systems which started their lives focusing on transaction recording has moved towards helping enterprises making decisions, and now will move towards enabling actions. And all this will become more and more real-time.

•Early pilots using Augmented and Virtual Reality for customer interactions will be seen.

•Several new meta-processes made possible by SMAC technologies will start introducing new business processes into an enterprise. Processes like customer feedback management or social customer service will become more prominent.

Moreover, the entire service industry now revolves around the ‘customer-first’ philosophy due to the multiple choices available to the customer today. We see a kind of a progressive transfer of power to a customer. In early stages, the power to decide on the time, place and mode of contact shifted to the customer. Currently, the power of competitive knowledge on the product/service offered by the enterprise has shifted to the customer. In the next stage, the consumer will probably toss a demand whenever and wherever it pleases him and the entire supply ecosystem of which every enterprise is a part will need to respond nearly real time.

Servion’s offerings are designed based on a thorough understanding of the customer experience ecosystem – from consumer psychology that drives insights, enterprise strategic needs which drive intent and effortless service management which makes it easy for consumers to interact.

Today, we are transforming customer experience domain through investments in cloud and analytics. Our innovative home-grown platforms, for holistic transformation of a customer interaction landscape, have witnessed success across global markets.

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