On May 12, I am the key speaker on a customer experience webinar entitled ‘From Drones to Smart Homes’. It’s the first in the new OpenText Digital Innovation webinar series that takes a fresh perspective on important issues that are affecting every business today. So, I thought I’d take a moment to give my perspective on delivering an excellent customer experience beforehand in the hope it persuades you to join me on the day.
Perhaps the place to start isn’t with experience at all. Perhaps the place to start is with customer expectation. In almost every industry there are transformational changes in the experience companies are delivering to their customers. Think about moving from 28 days to same day delivery – then to real-time tracking of your order in transit.
Today it seems that we’re not far from having delivery drones landing on our lawns! The first time you experience something like this, it feels like a revelation. By the tenth, it feels like it’s the norm.
We have to live by one rule of thumb: customer delight always turns rapidly into customer expectation. You can occastionally afford to not delight your customer on a few of the interactions you have with them – but you are in big, big trouble if you consistently fail to meet their expectations. The challenge is that, with every digital customer experience innovation we deliver, we consistently raise the bar on customer expectation.
So what do customers expect? They expect a consistent experience with a company no matter which stage they are in their buyer’s journey. They expect to be able to connect with the company on any channel they choose. They expect to begin an interaction – buying a product or receiving support – on one channel and complete it on another seamlessly. They expect more transparency, more honesty and more information from their chosen suppliers than ever before.
They don’t hope for this experience. They don’t want this experience. They expect this experience. And, they will go elsewhere if they don’t get it.
Customer experience expert Steven Van Belleghem says: “The amount of trust consumers put in brands is decreasing all the time, and a typical consumer will now switch brands without hesitation if they get a better offer.”
In this world of digital disruption, it is all too easy for an organisation to become the architect of its own downfall. In a rush to provide better and better external experiences, the company overlooks how closely tied external and internal processes actually are. In doing so, they set themselves up to disappoint the expectations of their customers.
There is little point in marketing painting a wonderful picture in the customer’s mind if the product or the service fails to meet the expectations set. A customer can have the perfect purchasing experience but if the product arrives damaged or doesn’t arrive at all then all that good work is undermined.
Organisations want to go digital on the outside. They know they need to be able to accommodate the growing number of data types and communications channels that their customers are embracing. They also want to go digital inside – creating new systems that transform digital operations, streamline internal processes, reduce information glut, and integrate business applications with information stores.
Most companies find the prospect of tackling both at the same time too daunting and risky preferring to focus on internal processes. But, even here, creating end-to-end processes is challenging when you are faced with information silos built up over years or decades. On top of breaking down the silos, you have to layer on the ability to integrate the new data types and channels.
Digital disruption is challenging the customer-facing parts of your business, but business transformation is an even greater force. At this point, business transformation becomes the bigger initiative and digital transformation falls under the larger umbrella. Unless carefully managed, the initial reason for embarking on the transformation – to deliver excellence digital customer experience – can become lost in the drive to improve internal processes.
From my perspective, a more productive and longer term strategy is to redefine what you mean by digital outside and inside your business. You can instead see then both as a single cross-functional process that flows seamlessly between customer behaviours and internal functions.
This allows you to focus on changing a single business process – such as supply chain management – rather than taking on two huge transformation projects simultaneously. It reduces the cost and risk involved in effectively responding to digital disruption and delivering consistently excellent customer experience today and into the future.
I hope this has captured your curiosity and you’d like to know more about how OpenText can help you deliver an ever better customer experience. If so, I’d like to invite you to join me on the ‘From Drones to Smart Homes’ webinar on May 12 at 2pm BST for an hour.