Customer Experience (CX) has evolved from being transactional to being a lifecycle program that needs to be managed across multiple channels and touch-points. Marketers need to invest in CX to make it stand out as a differentiator because just having a CX program in place is fast becoming a commodity for the value-conscious Indian customer. Over 80% of CXOs in India believe that CX in India is worse or far worse than the best in the world. Indian brands continue to struggle when it comes to offering consistent experience across multiple channels, tracking and acting on data collected from CX and lack of training when it comes to handling customer-interface related issues.
Customer-centricity is key to designing CX that works. And like many other things, that is set at the top. Take the example of Amazon. Jeff Bezos was asked at a recent all-hands meeting why he named all Amazon buildings ‘Day 1’. To which he replied “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.” For Bezos staying in day 1 means being truly obsessed with customers. He goes on to say that “Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.” Today the biggest challenge that brands foresee is becoming irrelevant to their customers. Staying relevant means you choose to stay in day 1.
The word ‘customer-centricity’ has been used widely in the industry, but very few companies devise metrics to measure customer-centricity. Customer-centricity from a customer’s viewpoint could be brands that are effective at listening, recognizing and responding to them.
But do customers know what they want? Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, said ”If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Brands need to have vision coupled with a CX strategy at the core to build customer-centricity.
We have outlined the key drivers that brands have to adhere to built customer-centricity below:
Designing CX: Outside IN
Brands that are obsessed with customer experience move from inside-out to outside-in orientation to make sure they look at every process from the customer’s eyes. By bringing in affordance at every level, you eliminate additional steps in the process.
To design customer experience outside-in organizations have to map the customer journey and make sure that the customer gets a consistent experience at every touch point. Brands that get customer experience right ensure that every employee aligns with the goal. For brands like Flipkart, it becomes imperative to guarantee a seamless experience from the time the order is placed to the last mile delivery of the product.
Our world is getting fragmented by platforms, devices, and media. From see now buy now to webrooming, your customer is always connected across multiple touch points.
Van Heusen, the premium lifestyle apparel brand, unveiled its first digitally immersive store last year. At the store, shoppers can use a digital display to check the look of the day, what’s new in the store and check style tips from the brand. The customer can also use a virtual trail mirror to preview the selected shirts, trousers, etc. This omni-channel experience could enable a customer to choose an apparel without even stepping into a physicaltrail room.
Pervasive experience doesn’t just stop at integrating online & offline channels it could also mean embracing diversity.
Hike the homegrown messaging app realizing that only 10% of Indian population can read and write in English properly introduced eight local languages on its app. The team at Hike made sure that the entire user interface was available in local language rather than just providing the user with a local language keyboard to converse. The brand also launched local stickers in over 40 languages which today contribute more than 30% of the traffic on the app. Hike’s story is one that embraces diversity.
As the world gets smaller in size due to globalization, businesses will have a tough time finding new customers. Retaining customers means building a long-lasting relationship that extends across touch points and purchase cycles.
With touch points that extend across multiple platforms and devices, customers do not move beyond passive forms of engagement. Participation paradox exists on online channels as 90% of users don’t share feedback or participate in conversations, 9% users contribute from time-to-time and the rest 1% contribute actively. So the feedback that you gather may not be a representative sample of the entire universe. Brands have to focus on making participation easier or rather make it a side effect of the entire process. For instance, if you buy a book from an e-commerce site it also gives you a recommendation of other books you can buy. Thus recommendations becomes a side effect of people buying books.
Participation could also mean being responsive & thoughtful. When Alex a FreshDesk customer replied back to an onboarding mail sent from CEO’s email address to check whether he was reading them. Girish Mathrubootham, Fresh Desk CEO wrote back to Alex “The team uses my email address to connect with customers, but I read replies from customers and write back to them if necessary.”
Brands have to slowly move customers from having passive forms of engagement to active ones. Participation Paradox will continue to exist, but organizations have to look at new ways of broadening participation.
Innovate & Experiment
We have to move away from adding bells and whistles to innovation that brings convenience. We have reached a stage where collaborative consumption has become a norm with players like Ola, Oyo, BigBasket, Hike and more.
Ola recently launched a light weight mobile site that offers users an app like experience. The site powered by Progressive Web App technology from Google and requires a fraction of data used by a native mobile app. With its lighter site, Ola is looking to expand to smaller cities and towns which have patchy network and mid-or-low end phones. Ola’s move addresses market needs and is an innovation tailored for Indian consumers.
Disruptive innovation involves providing users with a choice compared to which your competitor’s offering seems irrelevant. Legacy players have to innovate across functions whether its customer service, marketing or operations.
Legacy brands like Future Group are getting back into the game by integrating mobile and digital technologies into retail. The brand acquired home furnishing marketplace FabFurnish last year and relaunched it by integrating offerings from groups retail furniture chain HomeTown. The group also launched Big Bazzar GenNxt stores with interactive digital screens, site down checkouts and smarter customer service. Future Group is building on its omni-channel experience to ensure that it compete with larger e-commerce players.
Metrics & Data
Organizations have to identify and track new age customer experience metrics like Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Customer Effort Score etc. It’s important to understand whether your brand is meeting customer expectations and delivering on customer experience. In a recent CXO survey only 16% respondents believed that customer experience in India is par with the best in the world. Brands which are better at meeting customer experience focus on the entire journey starting from pre-purchase, during purchase &-post purchase interactions to build a clear differentiation.
Technology will continue to be an enabler in designing and delivering customer experience but at the heart of any great customer experience is people who understand and care about their customers. In words of the late Gary Corner, the founder of clothing retailer Lands’ End “Worry about being better; bigger will take care of itself. Think one customer at a time and take care of each one the best way you can.”