From insurance to utilities and banking, many industries have seen the natural order change over the last few years, writes Elizabeth Dailing, Senior Director CXM at Quadient.
Traditional market leaders are falling from grace while new stars rise up to take their place. At the same time, consumers no longer accept being ‘just a number’ to a business. Our research reveals that more than half of UK consumers feel more powerful in their relationship with businesses than five years before. Businesses have adjusted behaviour in line: as far back as 2014 Gartner reported that companies were competing on the basis of the experience they give to customers.
So how have businesses reacted to this change? Many have made a conscious effort to get on the front foot, investing in technology to help them keep up with customer demands for increasingly sophisticated interactions across a growing number of channels. In fact, Gartner reports that three quarters of organisations increased customer experience technology investments across the course of 2018. There are some great examples of big brands investing in technology to drive the customer experience, from insurer Aviva’s Digital Ventures to ‘Centrica Innovations’ in the utilities industry and ‘Santander InnoVentures’ in the financial services space.
No Silver Bullet
It’s great to see businesses investing in giving customers the experience they want. However, they must be realistic and accept that technology alone cannot act as a silver bullet – it needs a solid strategy underpinning it. This is a particularly important piece of the puzzle when financial investment is involved, as people from across the business will have a stake in the process.
Everything must be made clear for these wider-business stakeholders, whether that’s the C-suite or procurement teams. Why is the business investing? What you are setting out to achieve? And what are the tangible steps and timeframes involved in implementation?
To get their own house in order and ensure they can make their strategy clear, there are three key areas organisations should consider:
- What your customers actually want and need. When presented with new technology capabilities, it can be easy for organisations to get caught up in the possibilities on offer. But if you lose sight of what the customer actually wants, any investment will go to waste. It’s crucial to remember that nobody knows your customers better than you do. Businesses must be sure to listen to customer demands (and even directly ask customers what changes they would like to see) to ensure new technology will actually benefit them.
- What you already have in place. Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, you must figure out how to put it into action. Meeting goals might be possible with what’s already in place, or it might need a total technology refresh. Understanding what’s needed means having a look at the current state of play: which back-end technology solutions are already in use; how many communications channels are currently supported; how many teams are involved in different parts of the process; and how do different pieces of the customer journey jigsaw currently fit together?
- What data already exists that you can use? Before making a big investment in a new technology solution, you must stop to take stock of the customer data points that already exist. Any successful technology implementation should be able to maximise the value of this data – for instance, by allowing the business to better map and improve customer journeys or allowing for more detailed analysis. This may also create short-term benefits, such as revealing insights generated from one channel that can be applied to another.
Making Your Move
It’s inspiring to see businesses across a range of industries so keen to use technology to improve customer experience. That being said, you must not rush in: pace yourself and take the time to form a considered strategy to follow. Getting the right strategy will help to avoid putting the cart before the horse. It simply doesn’t make sense to invest in CX technology before you have considered what customers want, what technology you already have in place, and what customer data you already have access to.
With a strategy ensuring customer experience expands and grows in the right way, businesses can be confident in their ability to nail the basics. If they can ensure compliance and make sure CX is able to keep pace with the speed of the business, they can then turn attentions to providing truly human-centred design. Shaping customer journeys in this way will position companies for success in a world where customer demands are only going to continue rising.