Capgemini: Dealing with the disconnect between customer expectation and business reality
With consumer technology rapidly advancing - from augmented reality apps, predictive shopping suggestions and AI chat bots - a huge gap has emerged between customers’ service expectations and the experience most enterprise companies are able to deliver.
The divide is significant. Research by Capgemini, surveying 3,300 consumers and 450 of the companies that serve them, found three-quarters of organisations think they are customer-centric, but only 30% of their consumers agree. This discrepancy grows when looking at established industries. Utility firms and manufacturers are the most stuck in their ways, with gaps of 71% and 67% respectively, while ‘born in the cloud’ businesses only see a 12% divide in terms of customer expectations. The hefty difference shows that older companies, in general, are struggling to keep up with today’s consumers.
However, it is not all bad news for firms who acknowledge this shift. Companies who put customer experience at the heart of their operations score much higher on consumer satisfaction and in turn are able to boost revenue and have higher levels of customer retention. In addition, 81% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for a better experience, with nearly a third saying they would be prepared to increase spending by more than 15%. For any brand, heritage or a new start-up, it’s clear that being customer-centric and providing stellar service is critical to future success; organisations will succeed or fail by the experiences they create.
Don’t bury your head in the sand
Looking ahead, consumers will continue to demand omni-channel and always-on communication from the brands they engage with. In order to compete in this environment, companies must recognise that they have room to improve and understand that, right now, few enterprises are delivering customer service in ways that consumers want.
Our report found that businesses rate themselves 45% better at service than the level customers give them credit for. For brands, this is an issue and it is likely to be down to the two sides having greatly different views of what good customer service looks like. For example, while some heritage organizations focus on improving use call centers and answer times, consumers are used to having instant access to information, services and support via apps on their phones. Many companies seem to be focusing on improving areas that are no longer relevant, or won’t make an immediate impact. If businesses want to benefit from improving customer service, they first need to engage with customers to understand what it is they want, not just what businesses think they want.
Technology’s role in customer experience
With consumers’ desire for easy-to-access service, technology plays an instrumental role. Having a strong digital strategy is no longer a ‘value add’ but a necessity if firms want ensure they are creating a valuable and meaningful customer experience to maintain loyalty and engagement.
To survive and gain competitive advantage through improved customer service, businesses need to deploy technology that will be of genuine benefit to their customers. For example, advanced voice recognition for phone services, chatbots on Facebook messenger or WhatsApp are an increasingly popular way of engaging with brands. What is critical is that services like these are what customers actually use; deploying technology cannot just be a gesture or a way to tick boxes internally. To really make the most of consumer preference (and thus consumer spend), businesses need to identify what platforms their customers use to connect with them, understand current pain points and then create a plan to meaningfully engage with them in an authentic way.
Learn from the best
No business or consumer exists in a vacuum, so it is important to take inspiration from service their customers are getting elsewhere. Many firms are already using technology to engage with customers and businesses should look at best practices across industries.
Some great examples include EDF, an energy provider, launching a mobile app and website, enabling customers to review bills online and track their consumption trends. Another Capgemini customer, retailer Boulanger, wanted to give customers an amazing in-store experience that also linked to mobile and online sales channels for true omni-channel integration.
Boulanger installed high performance kiosks across its first city-center store in the center of Paris. The kiosks feature interactive display units that allow customers to browse product categories, read reviews, and compare prices across a range of brands and products. Some of the kiosks also feature a larger display in the form of a Virtual Wall, which enables customers to explore larger items such as oversized electrical appliances, even if they are not physically in the store.
Shop floor employees use tablet devices to bring up details on specific products for customers and can process purchases from anywhere in the store – facilitating customer purchase decisions and personalised product recommendations, as well as improving the efficiency of sales staff to order and schedule product deliveries. These examples are just an indicator of the many ways to engage with customers and improve satisfaction, and companies can come up with their own approach relevant for their audience.
Experience is the new battleground, and how you connect with your customers will determine how you win. While the current gap between businesses and their customers is wide, both sides stand to gain a great deal if firms take steps to properly listen and alter service accordingly. Organisations that tightly link their business operations with customer experience will reap the benefits in both streamlined operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.