Improving customer experience is at the forefront of strategy for many CxOs, but there continues to be a gap between what consumers are looking for, and the experiences that are being delivered to them.
Jennifer Arnold, Vice-President and Head of Marketing at SAP ANZ, shared these insights with Tech Exec. following her presentation at CxO Disrupt, Brisbane last month.
The Power of Digital
Arnold believes there is significant evidence to support a greater return on investment when customers have a positive digital experience.
“From what we’ve found in our Australian Digital Experience research, the digital experience an organisation delivers has a direct impact on customer loyalty. Holding onto a customer rather than finding a new customer is always going to be a much more profitable way of engaging in business,” she said.
Not only are customers more likely to remain loyal to a company when they receive a delightful customer experience, they’re more likely to recommend its products or services to others. Research by global consultant Bain & Co suggests that companies with high Net Promotor Scores (NPS) – which is businesses that have loyal customers who recommend the company to friends and family – on average grow at more than twice the rate of competitors.
Arnold noted that in the modern marketplace it is a challenge to “control” the channels customers use to research and discuss product information. However, this is not necessarily negative, as she believes organisations can take advantage of these channels by building a robust digital platform and partner ecosystem.
Preparing for the “Amazons” of the World
According to Arnold, the retail and banking sectors are notable industries in harnessing the power of digital customer experiences.
“The Woolworths and Coles of the world have been doing online shopping for some time… and with Amazon entering the Australian market, who live and die by their digital experience, it’s going to make sure everyone lifts their game.”
For retail, Amazon is scheduled to enter the Australian market in September 2017, which means it is critical these industries adapt to the digital world as soon as possible, or risk being left behind.
She continued by highlighting the innovative experience the banking sector is beginning to cultivate; “the banks have also been putting an enormous amount of focus and funding into improving the digital customer experience and I think we’ve seen that as it is going much more beyond traditional online banking.”
Arnold stressed the importance of “knowing your customer” and using data analytics to achieve this. In doing so, organisations can enhance their understanding of each step in their customer’s digital journey and where it could lead.
These ‘digital footprints’ are critical factors in improving the customer experience as it means that organisations can ensure they are constantly receiving information about customers’ behaviours and needs, and providing relevant information to customers in return.
“[Under Armour] actually talk about being an IT company because so much of what they do is based on technology.” – Jennifer Arnold
A good example cited by Arnold is US fitness apparel company Under Armour, she thinks this brand has taken data to the next level.
“Under Armour is an interesting one because, from the outside, most people would think it’s an apparel company but if you hear the senior management talk, they actually talk about being an IT company because so much of what they do is based on technology.
“It’s based on having that single view of a customer…that directs how they engage with customers, what products they send out to market and also what channels they use to engage.”
Organisations need to utilise data to compete with the digital experiences that businesses like Under Armour and Amazon can provide.
Maintaining Digital Relevance in 2017
In closing, Arnold provided three key steps in creating a better digital experience and avoid becoming obsolete:
1. A Universal Perspective of Digital Experience:
Arnold emphasises that in order to provide a positive customer experience, the organisation must have a consistent end-to-end view of the type of experience they want to provide.
Businesses also need to ensure that everyone in the organisation understands their role in delivering that customer experience.
2. Break Down the Silos:
Enabling knowledge-sharing through breaking down a siloed legacy system is essential in creating a seamless experience.
“It is about getting that actionable insight [by breaking] down the silos that exist in the organisation and bringing your data together so you can get that understanding of what’s happening in the marketplace and how your customer is interacting with the organisation at all points.”
3. Simplicity is Key:
Finally, don’t overcomplicate things.
“When it comes to interacting with customers and having a good digital experience, being simple and relevant is one of the most critical things.”
Customers want relevant information that is readily available, on their terms, and it’s up to the organisation to provide that or be left behind by a competitor that does.