Customer Experience or CX spans multiple disciplines and includes a complex web of customer journeys, touchpoints and environments. For the Enterprise, it becomes necessary to demonstrate the correlation between investment into customer experience and, following this, revenue growth to its stakeholders. This demonstration often becomes difficult to realise, as wholistic CX spans the entire value chain from production to distribution.
If we revisit history before the Industrialisation of commerce, the notion of customer experience was less relevant as it was something that was traditionally built in to the way in which we lived and interacted with each other. However, since the Industrial Revolution, we have realised that economies of scale are increasing the distance between sellers and buyers, and more importantly that this is a place in which executives no longer have direct contact with their customers.
A primary notion of CX is that via a customer journey, touchpoints and the environment combine to influence customer sentiment which contributes towards increased annual revenue. Understanding the CX journey and balancing the opportunity cost of investing in touchpoints is the challenge of every modern day enterprise. To have no understanding of the customer journey leaves a company exposed to unknown loss of revenue and competitive threats, where competitors can identify vulnerabilities (in the CX chain/journey/process/lifecycle) and pivot their market position to leverage the opportunity.
Another interesting dynamic of CX is that it is the customers that set the benchmark. It is in the way with which a customer interacts with your business that influences their lifestyle thus resulting in sentiment. Where positive sentiment is the result of alignment between customer expectations and experience. The irony is that it’s often the result of marketing communications and brand position that influence the customer’s expectations, thus demonstrating the necessity for a marketing strategy to include customer journey mapping. In this case marketing teams can take a more proactive approach with shaping customer journeys.
Enterprises that seek to establish a competitive advantage by delivering upon exceptional customer experiences require visibility of the end to end customer journey, including the sourcing of raw materials through to consuming the final product. Why?
Let us look at the production and consumption of a Smartphone. To modern, environmentally conscious consumers who may be interested in the mining of rare earth materials, this may present a moral dilemma or ethical paradox. Are the mineral extraction and associated labour conditions aligned with their values? Is the manufacturing plant in the foreign country caring for labourers as they would expect? How are the goods transported and does this influence the end customer’s sentiment? Is the salesperson delivering pertinent information that will enhance the purchase experience? How does it feel to unpackage the product, is there an overuse of plastics? When the device is turned on for the first time, what graphic is displayed, does the customer enjoy this experience and initial messaging? Do the post-purchase marketing messages reinforce the purchase decision, and do they mitigate post-purchase dissonance?
As we can see, a customer journey is quite complex and requires strategic planning by the Enterprise to uncover which elements are significant to the customer and how much investment is required to enhance their engagement – whilst also considering opportunity cost to achieve a favourable CX .
The customer experience zeitgeist is due largely to the digitisation of our lives. As more of our experiences occur via digital channels, it becomes easier for companies to monitor, measure and react. With powerful machine learning built into Marketing Automation, marketing experts have real-time access to consumer sentiment allowing them to adjust marketing strategies on-the-fly, creating one-to-one targeted bespoke journeys.
These rapid innovations speak to a second digital revolution that is occurring now. With advancements in Quantum computing, breakthroughs will be breathtaking, where probabilistic computing will solve complex problems never thought possible, such as real time anticipation of consumer needs.
This second digital revolution is set to change the landscape of humanity, and companies that are embracing Cloud technologies are sowing the seeds for growth, innovation and adaptability through real-time, cost effective and dynamic technology. Cloud computing is becoming the focal point of business front-end systems that influence the customer journey and provide powerful insights that anticipate our wants, needs and desires delivering truly unique customer experiences that can be crafted to deliver exceptional value.
These systems include Customer Relationship Management, Marketing Automation, eCommerce and Field Service Management. The key will be to unify them via seamless data integrations which interface with the core of the enterprise. The true synergistic deployment of these solutions will allow Enterprises to shape the customer experience, delivering increased revenue and profit and most importantly, superior CX.