The Digital Era: Focus on CX or perish

30 July 2015

In this post, I would like to share some thoughts about the following topics:

  • Why is focusing on customer experience more important than ever before?
  • What are the consequences of not investing in customer experience?

In order to answer these questions, I will highlight two forces that are currently pushing CX-standards to a higher level:

  1. The power of digitally interconnected customers
  2. Technology making customer intimacy at scale achievable and thus mandatory

 

1. Digitally connected customers push the ‘CX-normal’ to another level

In the digital era, (potential) customers have a very clear view on how well organizations are able to realize their brand promise.

This increase of transparency is caused by digitally interconnected customers, using social media and review sites to massively exchange reliable information about positive as well as negative customer experiences.

As a consequence, reliance on company initiated publicity channels diminishes in favor of listening to peer-to-peer customer advice based on real-life experiences. In other words, there is a shift in importance from owned and paid media channels towards earned channels. Individual customer advocacy in the digital era – positive or negative – has an impact that is bigger than ever before.

Organizations that fail to keep up with the ever evolving CX-standards are doomed

Obviously, this phenomenon results in the need for companies to truly focus on delivering best-in-class customer experiences. This makes up one of the forces pushing the CX-normal to another level. As a result, organizations that fail to keep up with the ever evolving CX-standards are doomed.

Delivering first-in-class customer experiences on the other hand, will result in a significant competitive advantage.

2. Technology is making customer intimacy at scale achievable and thus mandatory

Customer intimacy is probably one of the most important drivers for creating positive customer experiences. The reason for this is that we as human beings love the fact that others show a personal interest in us. This is exactly what customer intimacy is about: you show that you personally care about each customer as an individual.customer intimacy

The ingredients to achieve customer intimacy are twofold:

  1. Capture data about customer needs and preferences
  2. Have highly personalized customer interactions based on these needs and preferences

Traditionally, true customer intimacy is only provided to a handful of high-value customers. The reason for this is simple: getting a clear view on personal preferences and taking these into account to deliver highly personal services and interactions has always been very labor-intensive.

Traditionally, true customer intimacy is only provided to a handful of high-value customers

But, in the digital era, this is changing. Today, we see the emergence of technology platforms called ‘customer experience platforms’ or also called ‘customer engagement platforms’. These platforms are becoming increasingly able to make customer intimacy achievable at scale.

The secret behind this, is that customer engagement platforms automate the two ingredients of customer intimacy we mentioned earlier:

CE-platforms automate customer data capturing

It is important to mention that increased transparency in the digital era is not limited to customers having a very clear view on organizations. In fact, the increase in transparency is a two way street. Organizations also have the opportunity nowadays to get a better view on their (potential) customers than ever before.

This as a result of two things:

Firstly, (potential) customers are leaving behind a an enormous digital trace of data nowadays.

Secondly, customer engagement platforms enable us to centralize this data. Furthermore, the data captured is no longer limited by the boundaries of your organization: we see a trend of integration with other organizations selling / sharing customer data through APIs.

These two aspects make capturing enormous amounts of customer data achievable.

CE-platforms enable highly personalized customer interactions based on big data

The value of the enormous amount of customer data we have at our disposal nowadays can hardly be overestimated: it is the raw material from which needs and preferences of your target customers can be derived.

As a consequence, the key question is: how can we harvest these customer insights from our raw data? Yesterday, converting these tons of raw data into actionable insights would have been simply impossible due to labor-intensiveness. Today, however, this is becoming history thanks to the emergence of customer engagement platforms:

Although the customer engagement platform is still in its infancy, it is clear that the underlying technology is becoming increasingly better at offering the following two core capabilities to realize customer intimacy at scale:

  1. Turning tons of customer data into personalized, actionable insights in a way that is (nearly) real-time and affordable
  2. The possibility of managing highly personalized customer interactions at scale

It is important to understand that customer engagement platforms are pushing the ‘customer intimacy normal’ and as a result, the ‘CX-normal’ to a completely different level.

Again, not catching up with this trend will cause certain death. Furthermore, early adopters of customer engagement platforms will be hard to catch-up with.

Key take-aways

1. The customer experience normal is shifting upwards due to:

  • the power of digitally connected customers
  • technology (customer engagement platforms) making customer intimacy at scale achievable and thus mandatory

2. Organisations that fail to catch up with new CX-standards will perish. Delivering fist-in-class customer experiences on the other hand, will result in a significant competitive advantage.

3. In order to meet (near) future CX-standards, introducing a CX-enabling technology platform is a must.

Mark Mampaey

Written by Mark Mampaey

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