Customer Experience—Engagement Morphing B2B & B2C Into P2P
In this podcast discussion, Constellation Research Group CEO and Principal Analyst Ray Wang shares the factors driving the business imperative for Customer Experience Management (CXM) along with the promises and pitfalls that may be afforded or avoided, and a framework to systemically adopt enabling technologies to support this customer management strategy.
Click the Start button to begin podcast 31 minutes, 35 seconds (31:35)
Key take away points in the discussion with Ray Wang:
CX is a business strategy aimed at capitalizing on an organization's biggest asset—its customer base. Companies have extracted all the efficiencies they can from CRM automation, and now due to the economic environment and rise of social consumers, companies are turning to Customer Experience Management as the next competitive differentiator.
Forrester's most recent Customer Experience Index shares the benefits of successful CX programs, including loyalty measures such as increased willingness to consider the company for additional purchases, reduced likelihood to switch business, and increased likelihood to recommend the business, but also found that only 3% of brands scored “excellent,” and just 36% managed to earn an “okay” rating. Despite the business imperative and the meaningful benefits, companies are generally under-performing when it comes to delivering a consistent Customer Experience that meets or exceeds customer expectations. In trying to understand why, Ray suggests its not for lack of trying, and being successful comes down to managing the touch points which are often fulfilled by people, meaning that success is therefore in large part achieved by having the right people with the right attitudes and skill sets. Many companies are turning to personality assessments, such as the Gabriel Institute's Teamability assessment, designed to identify the right personalities for customer service and other customer facing roles.
Several disruptive technologies are converging to aid, automate and facilitate Customer Experience business objectives. Businesses are increasingly applying social tools for new channels of engagement, digital marketing to listen and better understand customer sentiment and mobile to interact with customers anytime/anywhere. Similarly, CRM software systems are evolving to a next phase in which they leverage their data management and process automation capabilities and extend their benefits to engagement and promotion of "relationship", and offer better delivery of customer information at more customer touch points.
For most companies, several departments manage the various parts of customer processes, but quite often in a nonorchestrated way. For example, multiple departments control the buying process–most commonly sales, marketing, accounting, fulfillment, distribution and customer support. Yet each has its own systems, priorities, metrics and processes, and working together to provide a holistic customer experience is both challenging and rare. Siloed processes lead to incomplete customer views, duplication of effort, slow cycle times and ultimately frustrated customers. To begin a technology journey to remedy these all too common information systems challenges, Ray recommends starting with a customer-centric engagement strategy. Begin with customer empathy, talk to customers to understand what they want, balance customer wants with service delivery costs, and prioritize customer-centric processes. Only then consider software technology to enable those processes.
Customer experience is driving a change in engagement. Ray suggests how we interact is rapidly changing and the concepts of B2B and B2C are dead, and to be replaced with P2P (people to people), which is much more individual-centric, contextual, governed by self interest and monetized through engagement.
CX technology is a nascent category and holistic systems that facilitate all customer interaction points don't yet exist. Technology enablement of the many and varied CX processes is currently met with many and varied technologies, including CRM systems, digital marketing systems, e-commerce apps, social, mobile, analytics and more. This results in increased technology challenges with multi-vendor management, system integration, business process management and master data management. Each of these four areas represent lynch pins in tying together the technology and competencies necessary for CX automation success.
As products can be copied in shorter cycles, companies are shifting to compete on customer service. Delivering differentiated service is not easy to do, which in itself providers a barrier to entry. Further, customer service differentiation is shown to deliver a higher correlation to customer loyalty.
Finally, when designing CX strategies, don't forget privacy. Despite claims that 'privacy is dead', privacy is not dead and matters to customers. Don't assume that changes to privacy in the name of improved customer experiences are a given. Be proactive and reach out to customers to understand and cater to their privacy requests. Also recognize that privacy is a legal and regulatory matter with many interpretations and requirements based on region or country.