Transform Customer Experience
eBook - ePub

Transform Customer Experience

How to achieve customer success and create exceptional CX

Isabella Villani

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eBook - ePub

Transform Customer Experience

How to achieve customer success and create exceptional CX

Isabella Villani

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About This Book

Your customers are your future.

Smartphones, social media and the internet have given customers access to more information than ever before. If your business fails them, they will switch to your competitor and never return. So how do you keep them? By mapping their journeys, identifying potential hazards and reshaping your business with customer experience (CX) at its heart.

From services to products, online to in-person, small-scale to multinational, your customers' loyalty depends on how you interact with them. Transform Customer Experience is your ultimate guide to putting your customer first. Author and CX expert Isabella Villani shows how you can implement a customer strategy from planning to execution.

Transform Customer Experience offers real-life insights into effective strategies for developing and implementing Customer Experience (CX) programs in a range of corporate, governmental and non-profit environments.

•Shows you how to address dimensions of diversity in the customer base

•Outlines customer journey mapping

•Discusses the implications of customers' omnichannel engagement

•Addresses the importance of positive employee experience in establishing a supportive CX culture.

Transform Customer Experience explains why you need to embed customer experience in your organisation and shows you how to do it.

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Chapter 1
Customer experience today

Many of the world’s great organisations have won customers’ loyalty in a highly contested global marketplace. The Apples, Amazons and Facebooks of this world have put their creativity into forging brands that offer customers a consistent, distinctive experience with a clear value proposition they can respond to. These are also companies that make it a point of pride to nurture, train and retain their staff.
Meanwhile, other organisations that were once everywhere are now nowhere. An instructive example is Blockbuster Video. The company rode the video boom into the late 1990s, when it started making most of its money out of charging very high fees to customers who were late returning their videos. One of those customers was a youngish man called Reed Hastings, who was trying to work out what to do with the money he’d made from selling a software start-up. He was so irritated when Blockbuster charged him a $40 late fee that he went away and founded his own company, which he called Netflix. By mid 2018, Netflix was riding the digital wave with 125 million subscribers, and Blockbuster was down to just one store in the USA.1
Creating delighted customers has never been more important than it is today. With globalisation, the impact of digital technology and the emergence of an ever-increasing number of channels, customers have access to a vast range of choice, and they are quick to drop organisations who rub them up the wrong way. In the words of the Forrester research company, the period since 2010 can be seen as the ‘Age of the Customer’, a time when digital technologies and economic changes have combined to put customers in charge of their dealings with all kinds of organisations.

Meet the new customer

Customer experience has evolved rapidly since 1994, when the World Wide Web burst on the scene, backed by a ready-made communication channel in the internet. This led to a very rapid growth of commercial activity. Entrepreneurs rushed to build a digital presence, and customers were quick to embrace this new technology.
Organisations were just starting to get used to the web when mobile phone networks began to reach into the digital data space. Mobile payments became possible in 1998, and in the same year mobile users were offered the first downloadable content, which was a ringtone. Since then, mobile phones with fast data access have become part of daily life.
As computers and then smartphones became ubiquitous, they offered a platform for social media to emerge as a channel for direct peer-to-peer communication. Mark Zuckerberg launched ‘the facebook’ for his fellow students at Harvard in February 2004, and 1200 students signed up on the first day. Facebook went national later that year and began to expand across the globe in 2005, spearheading a new wave of online platforms where people could record the delights and frustrations of daily life and upload images and links for their friends to view. As of mid 2018, Facebook had 2.23 billion active users, defined by their having logged in to Facebook during the last 30 days.2
All these developments have produced a customer who’s better informed than ever before and far more difficult to retain.

The informed customer

Conventional bricks-and-mortar retailers are among those most seriously affected by digital disruption. To get a sense of the scale of the recent changes, it’s worth remembering what customers encountered when they could only shop face-to-face:
  • The choice of suppliers was limited, with most having only local reach.
  • There were information barriers because would-be purchasers had to travel to the store.
  • Information provided inside the store depended largely on staff knowledge and in-store promotions.
  • Information provided outside the store depended largely on published advertisements. Consumer associations sought to evaluate rival products, but most of their information was available only to subscribers and they had trouble keeping up with changing markets. Customers’ own views had little reach unless a TV show or newspaper decided they had a newsworthy complaint.
Contrast this with a customer who researches products over the internet before making a purchasing decision:
  • The choice of suppliers is huge — at least national, often global, with even small, specialised suppliers being able to reach global markets.
  • There is far greater transparency — product information is supplied instantaneously in flexible forms, from many-to-many to one-on-one.
  • Social media, online reviews and comparison websites give swift access to information about products and services, drawing on other customers’ experiences. Any given product will have an army of vocal advocates and critics, especially online.
  • Customers can make contact at a time of their choice. They can send an online query at any time of day, and they expect to be able to call on the phone outside traditional working hours.
  • Anonymity allows customers to research competing products without being pressured into a sale.
Even if customers go to a bricks-and-mortar store, they’re likely to arrive equipped with knowledge gained from multiple channels, and they expect staff to acknowledge it.
One customer practice that has received a lot of attention is known as ‘showrooming’, where intending purchasers visit a physical store to inspect the floor stock. If they’re attracted to a particular item, they use their smartphones to look it up on the internet. Some will even scan the item’s barcode or quick response (QR) tag and search to see if other suppliers are selling the item more cheaply. If so, they buy the item online.3
The opposite of showrooming is ‘webrooming’, where a customer uses the internet to research a product or service, but then buys through a conventional retail outlet. Here, consumers use the internet to supplement physical stores, not to supplant them.
An early study of showrooming predicted it would spell the death of conventional stores, estimating that only 7 per cent of customer visits resulted in a sale. This produced a panic among bricks-and-mortar retailers, but later studies have suggested that the figure was misleading because it didn’t examine customers’ practices closely enough. A Nielsen survey of just under 2000 US shoppers in 2017 found that showrooming and webrooming were counterbalancing each other. Of the customers surveyed, 27 per cent said they regularly looked at goods in physical stores before buying online, but 35 per cent regularly researched online before buying in a physical store. On the other hand, there was a widespread decline in the frequency with which customers visited stores in person, while online visits had risen by 8 per cent in just 12 months.4
Whichever way you look at it, though, the online experience is now an integral part of customers’ interactions with suppliers of all kinds, and practically everyone has to adapt to the digital marketplace. Customers who visit a store or phone up to ask about a product have almost certainly researched it online first — perhaps on the company’s website, perhaps on a competitor’s, through a comparison website, on social media or all of the above. By the time they reach the store, they may know more about the product than the staff do.
When customers are dealing with an organisation, they’re not only comparing it with its direct competitors; they’re comparing it to every other interaction they’ve had with any other organisation they’ve dealt with. In a world where practically everyone has had some kind of contact with the new breed of companies that take pride in looking after their customers, every organisation is being compared with the leaders in the global field — not just in their back yard.

The flighty customer

Customers have also become less attached to particular service providers. There are several reasons for this:
  • The wider availability of information means that customers are more likely to be aware of competing offers, either through competitors’ online activity or through social media.
  • New suppliers in many fields are less burdened by the cost of running bricks-and-mortar services. They can undercut incumbent providers and differentiate themselves by bundling products to appeal to different segments of the market.
  • Tighter regulation of consumer contracts has given customers more control by setting out cooling-off periods and limiting the use of ‘lock-in’ cla...

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