Enhancing the customer experience is easy, yet often overlooked

Jonathan Faurie
Founder Turnaround Talk

One of the defining characteristics of Millennials and Gen Z clients is that they are experience based. They are more likely to book a holiday, or choose a restaurant to have a meal at, based on the experience that is on offer.

This trend is transcending into all aspects of business and retail. If you can offer a good experience, you will win the client.

This is a very subjective exercise though. How does a company go about creating an experience that clients will gravitate towards? A recent article by Forbes points out that how an experience is delivered is the experience. Customer experience isn’t delivered in a vacuum — it requires a multilayered ecosystem that reliably and repeatably delivers on the brand promise.

The Forbes article points to a recent Forrester Consulting study which points out that 95% of respondents believe improving customer experience is either important or very important, but only 18% are prioritizing and investing in it enough to be getting real business results.

How companies look at experience
The Forrester study asked over 700 business and experience leaders to identify the practices and attitudes that lead to business success through customer experience. Among the most compelling findings: Companies almost never fully own the experiences they deliver. Instead, employees, partners and even customers themselves deliver major components of that experience.

The study also revealed the emphasis that leading companies place on the role of employees in creating the customer experience. They often consider the employee’s journey to be as important as, and also deeply connected with, the customer’s, and they incorporate this vision into their planning. These companies provide more and better technology to employees, ensure they have easy access to customer data, work to understand the mechanics of employee-customer engagement, view employee enablement as critical to customer success, and seek to use ongoing insights to improve how employees serve customers.

Employees are only one key element in the ecosystem that leads to powerful customer experiences, but their central role underscores the complex challenges involved with achieving success, and the need for companies to think in terms of entire systems.

Orchestrating the experience is key
Photo By: Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

Orchestrating the experience
The Forbes article pointed out that, when working with clients, we seek to marry the science of intimacy with the art of industrialization. In other words, brands not only need to understand the drivers of consumer preference; they also need to meet these preferences across channels, time and contexts — consistently, relevantly, repeatably and in whatever way customers choose to interact. Informed by our experience blueprint methodology, we enable our clients to efficiently scale valuable and valued experiences across their marketing, sales and service needs.

In just one example of experience orchestration, we’re helping a large European financial services company redesign its employee and customer experience. The business is shifting from an organization with 34 different products and six business units, to a customer-centric model based on 11 connected customer journeys. To ensure efficient, connected and consistent delivery of these journeys, we mapped each of them down through the organization’s key operating layers — the employee experience, the customer data, the technology platform and the business processes.

The article adds that, equally, for a large prestigious automotive company, we’ve helped improve the customer and dealer experience by designing a new and streamlined interaction model that we enabled through a custom interaction platform. The combination of intimacy and industrialization enables improved customer acquisition and relationships at a lower cost per sale.

Throughout this and our other client engagements, technology is, of course, indispensable; however, we believe the brands that succeed will be those that ultimately bring the brand to life in a human way. Doing so requires listening intently, being empathetic and modulating your interactions based on changing signals from the customer — in short, using advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning to enable your brand to behave more like a human at a scale that no human can.

How the experience is delivered is the experience
Photo By: Sigmund via Unsplash

Not just what but also how
The article points out that over half a century ago, Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” This idea can and should be applied to customer experience; in other words, how the experience is delivered is the experience. The fact is, consumers and employees will have an experience with your brand — and by taking a holistic approach to the design and delivery of that experience, you give yourself the best chance to influence how they feel about it afterwards.

Delivering an intimate-feeling experience at scale needs to be a top agenda item for the entire C-suite, from the CIO’s strategic plan to the CFO’s spending priorities. In the end, the brand experience infiltrates the organization itself, and will drive success going forward.

Experience driven customer engagement is important
Given the challenges that South African entrepreneurs are experiencing – which are related to global supply chain and the Governments response to the Covid-19 Pandemic (national lockdown) – customer management becomes key.

The role of the business rescue practitioner here is to make sure that this is not something that is ignored by companies that are in distress. Distressed business cannot afford to turn away business just because they are not focused on delivering a good client experience.