February 2019 Issue
Effective oversight and execution of a customer experience (CX) strategy can go a long way toward determining whether a company lives or dies. That said, even calculating the strategic value of CX is no easy task these days.
Many of the questions concerning strategy have been complicated due to the disruption that has taken place across the CX landscape over the past decade, much of it the result of revolutionary advances in technology. Thus, companies are increasingly looking to utilise technology in order to offer a better CX and increase the value it provides – to the customer and their business.
Among the technologies disrupting the CX space are artificial intelligence (AI), chat-bots, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, and virtual and augmented reality. Alongside these, CX practitioners also expect to see a greater use of predictive analytics and personalisation, as well as increasingly sophisticated customer retention strategies.
“The CX dynamic is evolving more rapidly than ever before,” says Dave Anderson, executive vice president TTEC Digital, TTEC. “The most recent trends involve knowing your customer and anticipating their needs while, at the same time, simplifying their ability to get answers to their questions through automation and self-service. To enable these transformed experiences requires companies to manage an exploding volume of CX data.
“Yet few organisations are able to process the immense collection of CX data available to them,” he continues. “Data complexity continues to grow with the evolving world of digital, AI, automation and IoT, and companies too often see this growth as a barrier to success. CX has turned this entire process on its head. Today, it starts with the customer and their needs, their purchase and usage habits, and then begins the design cycle around how to deliver an ‘experience’ through a frictionless distribution system. This takes a level of skill and expertise that has just evolved over the last few years.”
In the view of Robert Voth, leader of the global consumer financial services practice at Russell Reynolds Associates, the most significant trend impacting CX in recent times is the 180-degree shift in the product development lifecycle. “For decades, banks started with the product – whether it be a checking or saving account, indirect loan or mortgage – and moved to competitive analysis, pricing, compliance, and then to distribution,” he says. “It was after the product was in the hands of the customers that support took hold and feedback was collected and delivered back into the next generation of products.”
For CX leaders, the overriding challenges they face are identifying customer needs, aligning business processes around these needs and then building applications that ultimately reinvigorate CX and increase value. There are, of course, many other challenges impacting the CX agenda.
“Challenges also come from within the companies themselves – outdated processes, staid executives who lack diversified experiences, and decision chains that throw up roadblocks versus driving innovation and speed to market,” believes Mr Voth. “Great CX cuts at muscles that need to be reshaped and fitted for different purposes, and this means people get replaced. Traditional return on investment (ROI) metrics have changed, with CX playing the long game.”
In the experience of Mr Anderson, a key challenge facing companies is the difficulty in gathering data resources from across all the different strands of their business operations. “By breaking down silos between departments, applying analytics and deriving insights, companies can develop strategies focused on profitable growth, customer experience, personalised value propositions and operational excellence,” he says.
“This is achieved through advanced analytics and machine learning (ML) working in tandem to convert data into meaningful insight at the individual customer level,” he continues. “Applying the insights to drive better customer experiences across touchpoints increases customer satisfaction and improves business results.”
2019 and beyond
Going forward, the key aim for CX leaders is to successfully integrate a raft of differing CX perspectives into a meaningful whole that can deliver experiences that drive both customer loyalty and sustained growth.
In Mr Anderson’s view, while sophisticated and innovative CX design will be a constant, the winners in CX will be the organisations that can best navigate the evolution to: (i) seamless omnichannel journeys and engagement; (ii) thoughtful digitalisation of key aspects of the customer journey, especially analytics-based intelligence; and (iii) purposeful use of robotic process automation (RPA) and AI tools combined with the compassion and empathy of human-driven interactions to create more fluid and unique customer experiences.
“By taking forward-thinking command of data, analytics and insights, CX innovators will be empowered to connect with their customers when, where and how they want to interact,” adds Mr Anderson.
For Mr Voth, CX is among the top priorities for any business. “CX is the business; we cannot overstate that fact,” he says. “Loyalty is built from CX versus brand affinity, a shift that is putting stress on traditional marketers and product development executives.”
What does appear certain is that 2019 and beyond will see further radical change and innovation across the CX landscape, with companies increasingly focused on how best to design and execute a winning CX strategy.
© Financier Worldwide