Designing a SMART Customer Experience
Written by Mike Saunders, of DigitLab
In a world that changes constantly, business needs to understand that age old marketing techniques will not help you find, attract and keep your customers.
Technology has acted as a catalyst to drive our understanding of customer needs and desires. Customers wanted to be heard, to have a voice, to stand up for injustice, to promote great product experiences and complain about bad experiences.
Mobile and social technology gave consumers a platform to make these desires known. Brands and business had no choice but to take notice and respond with communication channels that spoke to consumers in a trustworthy, transparent manner that bought back the hearts of consumers.
Digital has highlighted a primary shift that consumers want business to make. To become more relevant, personal, useful and thoughtful. To design products and experiences that are actually useful and exciting.
In considering this challenge we need to redesign our customer experiences with these shifts in mind, while still considering the person at the end of the experience. To find a balance between the physical and digital experience, to blend the two experiences into one serendipitous occasion that excites and intrigues customers.
SMART Customer Experience is a framework I developed that speaks to the technologies that matter and the need to find the right application in your experience. A simple acronym in SMART - Social, Mobile, Agile, Researched, Transforming.
Behind social media lies the consumer insight that customers want to connect with people, brands and business.
They want to be able to share in a conversation, to be heard, to listen and add value. This is evident in successful programmes like My Starbucks and Idea Storm by Dell ; where customers can add ideas to a network and watch them come to a reality as the companies interact with their customers to develop new products.
When designing an experience that is social we need to focus on the customers need to connect, share and contribute rather than just the platforms available.
The power of mobile is evident in how many people own a mobile phone, but as wearable tech like The Dash, Google Glass, Pebble watches and Fitbit coming into the market we need to understand the fundamental reason why mobile is so important in our customer experiences.
The power is in context. Mobile devices (any mobile device) helps us create contextual messaging, immersive experiences and accessible information.
In designing SMART experiences we need to ask ourselves how we can create connections with customers that are more meaningful and that speak to them at the right time, in the right way and with the right message.
Agility is one of the most prized organisational goals. The ability to respond to market conditions and customer needs quickly is often what sets companies apart from their competitors.
Agility is one of the most important business attributes that will drive them to becoming more customer centric.
An agile organisation can learn from social business principles that help business collaborate easier and Faster with the right decision makers in the organisation.
Internal enterprise social networks are useful to breaking through hierarchy, corporate structures and processes that slow down the initiatives that respond to customer and market needs.
I was recently subjected to a local banking process in getting a service activated. The silo’s in the organisation had such poor communication systems internally that it took them three months to notify me that the service had been approved.
In those three months I had become more and more disgruntled at the bank for the ineffective and poor service delivery.
Whether business utilises social business techniques or not, the principle is clear that an organisation becomes more agile and customer centric when people in the business can communicate quickly with the decision makers in the business.
Accelerating employee relationships will create an innovative, customer centric business with the agility to solve problems quickly.
David Ogilvy once noted that he sees an “increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.”
Consumer Research, Big Data Mining, Online Conversation Tracking and a host of other research tools are only as valuable as the insight that they illuminate.
Customer experience designers need to focus on measuring the right aspects of their experience. To turn big data into smart data, research to insight and ultimately the opportunity to improve the experience.
Yes, we live in a world where we can measure everything. That’s does not mean everything is worth measuring.
When a customer decides to purchase a product or service they are choosing to adapt their lives to include that product or service.
Customer experience designers need to look carefully at how they can help customers change their lifestyles to accommodate their new purchase.
A great example of how this transformation is implemented into a customer experience is found in the book - Smart Change, by Art Markman.
He describes how Procter & Gamble helped increase sales of the air refresher Febreze by redesigning a bottle that originally looked like a window cleaner bottle (and cried out to be stored in a cabinet beneath the sink) to one that was rounded and decorative, and could easily be left out on a counter in a visible spot.
Why build SMART customer experiences? Quite simply, SMART Customer Experiences connect customers to products and services in meaningful, contextual and purpose-driven experiences. These experiences will retain customers, provide easy mechanisms to share their experiences and turn loyal customers into avid ambassadors of your product.
Mike Saunders is the CEO of DigitLab, voted one of South Africa’s Top Digital Agencies in 2012. He is an international speaker and partner at TomorrowToday, futurists and strategists, helping businesses understand the digital age. Passionate about sharing and teaching he has also been voted one of the Top South Africans to follow on Twitter. Read his blog at www.mikesaunders.com.
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.