Today, customer experience is a hot buzzword in the world of business. The need for improved experiences is loud and clear both in boardrooms and in the frontline. Many businesses are putting the customer at the center of everything they do. Decades ago, businesses started to publicly declare that they care about their customers. Customer care was born and in addition to being a public declaration, businesses started showing a little more concern for their customers. Besides the care, businesses realized that customers needed assistance. As a result, customer service departments flourished. Any customer in need of assistance would find it at the customer service desk or the call center. Having a department was not enough, smart businesses realized that everyone needed to be involved in delivering a seamless end-to-end customer experience. The birth of customer experience saw a major transformation in how businesses interact with their customers holistically. Customer experience continues to make inroads as a strategic area for businesses and here are two major trends that will define its future.
Seamless Digital Experiences
We are living in the digital customer era. As such, most customers are interacting with brands digitally. Today, some customer journeys are fully automated while others are combining both digital and non-digital interactions. It is for this reason that businesses are rethinking their end-to-end customer experience in the digital space. Businesses are conducting in-depth user research not only to understand their customers’ behaviour but also to gauge customer perception of current digital experiences. This is to aid the design of better experiences for them. Further, the use of artificial intelligence is easing interactions. Communities are being built around brands and online reviews are more important than ever before. Smart companies are taking a full inventory of all interactions happening across digital channels. The aim is to make the experiences painless and seamless. The advancements being made in technology are now more focused on giving customers positive experiences. It is no longer technology for technology’s sake.
Company-Wide Customer-Centric Culture
Customer experience whether good or bad speaks volumes about a company. Internally, businesses are redefining customer experience from a cultural perspective. In so doing, they are making customer-centricity a strategic priority and supporting it by building a strong culture. This has been made possible by boardroom discussions that include the customer in the deliberations on growth, revenues and profitability. Most business leaders realize that if customers don’t spend, there will be no revenues. Thus, a customer-centric culture is more than ever before being built intentionally. Leaders are not just talking about customer experience; they are embracing a mindset that shows the way in customer-centricity. Further, smart companies are looking for opportunities to embed customer-centricity in everything they do and especially in the people and processes aspect. When customer experience is a top agenda in the boardroom, the question of culture always comes up.
Leaders hoping to make a difference in how their businesses interact with customers must go beyond the talk. They must make customer-centric decisions and take action. Customer experience is no longer nice to have; it is at the center of business survival. How businesses interact with their customers will continue to evolve. Customer experience must go beyond being a buzzword to becoming a top strategic priority for every smart company.
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy