Differentiating on Experience is a Key Ingredient for Competitive Advantage

Adam Novak, Head of Group Customer Experience and Operational Excellence – nib Group

Adam Novak, Head of Group Customer Experience and Operational Excellence – nib Group

The world we live in is constantly changing and so are the expectations of customers. The benchmark of awesome customer experience keeps being lifted by digital disrupters that are using technology to make life easier so we can enjoy the things in life that matter most.

I remember the first time I ordered and Uber with my Alexa. The experience was completely effortless with one simple phrase – “Alexa, order me an Uber”. Alexa then proceeded to inform me that my Uber was on its way. How awesome is this I thought to myself until I realized that I hadn’t updated my default address on Uber as I had moved 4 months earlier! Thankfully I had only moved a couple of blocks away so I was able to run and just catch my ride. Ideally Uber should have figured this out as I’m a frequent user of Uber and prompted me to update my home address. The latest tech is making everything super easy and effortless, but there is still always room for improvement to cater for forgetful humans.

The next generation see the world differently than the current generation. I remember a YouTube clip I saw recently of a small child using her fingers to try and zoom into a picture in a magazine. She couldn’t figure it out so threw the magazine away in frustration.

In this new experience economy, organizations need to adapt and differentiate on experience in order to survive and thrive. Organizations that are complacent and don’t change with customer expectations and look to digital first will be left behind. Customer experience management has never been so important.

In moving an organization to be more customer-centric, it’s important to get the foundations right and to be flexible in design to meet these ever-changing customer expectations. I like to think of it across 3 broad categories:

1. Getting the Voice of Customer into the organization

2. Align the organization to suit the needs of the customer (not the business)

3. Focus on the moments that matter

Getting the voice of the customer into the organization to drive change

It’s important to use a range of customer experience metrics across both operational and experience data to help the organization understand the end to end customer experience. These insights can then be validated with customers through behavioural research for deeper insights and customer stories to create empathy and drive change.

The insights garnered help an organization keeps abreast of changing customer expectations in order to pivot customer initiatives and resources to address these needs or pain points. And having a voice of the customer ‘listen, learn and act’ framework in place is integral in closing the loop on customer feedback.

Running immersion sessions with senior leaders is another way to bring the voice of the customer into the organization through activities such as calling NPS detractors, taking complaint calls, mystery shopping key service and sales touchpoints, or watching side by side with customer service agents performing key customer processes. This can be quite powerful as senior leaders can share the same experience as customers for themselves, creating champions of change to support customer experience transformational efforts.

Aligning the operating model to customer experience

As an organization becomes more customer-centric and moves closer to the customer by having greater visibility of the experience, there may be a need to disrupt the operating model to align closer to key moments of truth and to stay relevant and meet customer expectations.

The application of customer journey mapping can help identify key customer stages and signature moments to align the organization to. Then cross-functional multi-disciplined teams can be created as centers of excellence from across the business, operations and IT to focus solely on these customer stages and moments. Think teams or centers of excellence across journeys such as ‘Join, Onboarding, Change, Use, Pay, Leave’. Cross-cutting teams should support multiple centers of excellence with specific system and domain knowledge.

Reorganizing around the customer can be quite transformational as teams provide hyper-focus to customer moments of truth and provide a more personalized experience that can impact the bottom line and provide a competitive advantage.

Realigning the operating model and structure around the customer may not be viable or feasible for every organization, so it’s important to have in place a vision, strategy, and framework around experience management so that everyone is on the same page and accountable to create an impact and drive the CX needle.

Focusing on the moments that matter

By bringing the voice of the customer to the table and shifting to a customer-centric operating model, it becomes much easier for an organization to reimagine the experience and focus on the moments that matter to customers.

Organizations also need to make it ridiculously easy for their customers and people in this new experience economy. New and emerging tech such as the application of AI can be deployed to augment judgment for decision making and actions to achieve better outcomes for customers that organizations never thought possible before.

AI technologies can enable and impact an organization’s strategy of differentiation or cost leadership for a competitive advantage. And in particular, machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics can be deployed in combination with an organization’s people to achieve collective intelligence across the value chain of experience management.

As an example, natural language processing and machine learning can be implemented across voice and online channels to authenticate customers, capture intent or reason for contact, automate if a simple request, or match to the most appropriate customer service agent where an interaction could not be automated, provide sentiment analysis and assistance in real-time to guide the conversation and aid in decision making for the customer service agent. This could lead to increased sales conversion, increased customer and employee satisfaction, lower average contact handle time.

Bringing the voice of the customer into the organization, realigning the operating model around the customer, focussing on the moments that matter, experimenting with new technology for hyper-personalization and making things ridiculously easy for customers and people are some of the key ingredients for success to create differentiation for competitive advantage in a constantly changing world.

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