Ed Thompson, Gartner’s VP Distinguished Analyst, summarized customer experience as the sum of perceptions caused by a brand’s interaction with a customer. As customer experience becomes a key component of business strategy, few will argue about its importance. But it’s not enough to understand what customer experience is. The challenge is to decide on how to rewire the organization to achieve the desired results.
Customer experience transformation, therefore, is a strategic restructuring of the organization to transform how customers perceive the brand.
We have transcended into the ‘Experience Economy’, where customers now prioritize experience over the product or service. Likewise, 31% of customers in Japan will make purchase decisions based on customer experience.
Customers now have more choice and greater access to information than ever before. They expect businesses to provide consistent service and engagement across all touchpoints in the customer’s journey. In today’s connected world, businesses must focus more on engagement and loyalty, to meet expectations and create a rewarding customer experience.
While more connected customers offer new platforms or opportunities for companies to market to, it also comes with drawbacks. A third of customers will share their good experiences with others, but it is the negative customer experiences that get the most attention - damaging the reputation of the brand. Negative reviews will also cause potential prospects to trust the business less.
In October 2019, Japan raised its sales tax rate from 8% to 10%. This has hurt Japanese consumption as more customers tighten their purses. Even though the economy has not grounded to a halt and Japan remains the world’s third-largest consumer market, the domestic competition will be relentless in 2020. As a result, creating exceptional customer experiences will the key differentiator in the battle for growth and market share.
While digital transformation is driven by growth opportunities and increased competition, ultimately, its goal is to meet customers’ expectations.
Customers' interactions are increasingly digital. They prefer to engage with brands through its digital touchpoints - social media, emails and messaging platforms, from awareness to after-sales. Customers are accustomed to these modes of communications in their daily lives and will expect the same with brands.
While the growth in digital requires brands to transform and embrace new channels, customers do not think about which channels to go to. Instead, they will choose the most convenient method to get things done. Thus, companies have to move away from the channel-mindset to a multi-experience one. This means removing silos and centralizing the management of channels, to allow anyone in the company to engage with the client with a single platform. This enables the company to gain a 360-view of their customers by collecting all their customer data in one place. From basic contact information, sales transactions and all interactions across all touchpoints including social media.
Today’s customers will favor a customer-centered competition over a long-trusted brand. If businesses need to survive, they need to transform from a revenue-led strategy to one that focuses on customer experience.
And customer experience transformation starts at the boardroom. This means having a cascading company-wide vision and common purpose that they are there for the customer. It also means enabling and empowering employees to focus on customer centricity. This often calls for a rethinking of business models. In fact, 60% of companies that underwent a digital transformation had to completely reassess their business priorities.
Often, partners are experienced in their respective verticals to provide consultation and best practices on the delivery of customer experience. Businesses can leverage their expertise to act as a catalyst for their own customer experience transformation.
Effective customer experience transformation requires a holistic approach from changing mindsets to rethinking the customer journey. A transformation may take years but will pay dividends long after.