Know Your Customers: Customer-Centric vs System-Driven

The success of a business is measured by its bottom-line profitability and the number of satisfied customers. Although these two factors seem contradictory at first glance, they are heavily interrelated.

While businesses often think that providing enhanced customer experiences requires a lot of financial resources, industry leaders like Amazon and Zappos have demonstrated that providing quality customer experience is the only long term option for achieving a stable market position in this fiercely competitive world.

This article originally appeared on Jacada and is reprinted with permission.

Why Focus on Customer-Centricity?

In the early 80’s, the belief was “it’s not personal, it’s business,” while today’s business motto is “it’s personal, it’s your business.”  That’s the importance of customer-centricity.

If you look at most industry leaders who have entered a recession-proof zone (for example Coke, Amazon, Starbucks), you will see that they are all customer-centric. There are two reasons for this.

First, customer expectation levels are constantly rising while their attention span and loyalty is fast dwindling. Secondly, consumer groups are splitting as customers grow more and more diverse with specific needs and stronger likes and dislikes.

As a business, you have to constantly train your front line to deliver superior customer experiences to regain loyalty and prevent “customer flight.” Customer flight or customer deflection is no longer limited to individual experiences but leads to user flights in groups because of negative word of mouth.

There can be no valid comparison between system-driven and customer-driven businesses simply because a system-centric approach is not sufficient anymore.

The strength of a brand is now directly reflected in its service value to consumers and vice versa. This explains why more and more businesses are designing customer centric business systems and interaction flows, tailor made to fit their target groups and gain long term brand loyalty.

Features of a Customer-Centric Approach

With the expansion of social media and mobile technology, customers take their business with them and inform themselves “on the fly”.

In simple terms, this means businesses need to be ready to answer their customer — anywhere; anytime. Customers expect to be served everywhere: at the call center, at the store, in social media channels or on their mobile phone. You would think this would suffice; but no.

With today’s technological advancements, your customers expect even more. It’s not just about being there — It’s about doing it right.

Related article: The 4 Things You Should Do (And the 4 You Should Avoid) When Delivering Omni-Channel Customer Support

Organizations should adopt the proper customer service technologies that are tailor made to fit to their business, transforming it into an agile customer-centric enterprise. The popularity of smartphone adoption across the globe is a great example for this.

Mobile Customer Service – Getting Customer-Centricity Right

Over 1 billion people in the world own a smartphone. This opens endless opportunities for organizations to adopt a customer-centric model. Properly designed, smartphones can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience:

1.      Visual IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

This allows your customers to avoid the dreadful IVR experience, which generally involves multiple questions and endless options designed to confuse the caller. With visual IVR, the customer helps himself by directly interacting with the in-built system. Customers can solve their queries faster, inbound call volumes are reduced and satisfaction levels are increased.

2.      Customer Centric Interactions

Adopt a simplified design mechanism that will enable you to maintain an agile environment. You want to be able to easily develop dynamic interactions that will enable your customer to leverage this self-service channel to its fullest. On the other hand, business dynamics, goals, and strategies quickly change these days, so business agility has become the expectation.

3.      Seamless Connection to the Call Center

Recent mobile technology enables a seamless connection from the phone to the agent at the call center. Customers don’t have to be bothered about repeated information queries such as account details and reasons for calling. They can also schedule call-backs at convenient time slots.

4.      Enhanced Consumer Experience

Allow your customers to leverage smartphone features (camera, GPS, etc.) when engaging with you. This allows users to solve harder questions and appreciate the interaction more.

5.      Real-Time Data

Enable real-time integration to your back-end systems. This means you are providing your customer a real-time experience with up-to-date data. This also means that your customer doesn’t have to wait for an agent to search through his database before accessing the required information.

6.      Channel Duplication

The optimal interactions you designed for your mobile app, should be easily duplicated across other channels such as the web, voice, chat and social media.

This not only saves costs for your organization but also enables your customers to enjoy a consistent customer experience, regardless of the channel they choose to start or finish their interactions in.

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3 CX Stats That May Change How You Think About Digital Transformation

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence, automation, big data, and the Internet of Things have made digital transformation an absolute necessity for organizations. With people, processes, services and things more dynamically connected than ever, companies are feeling relentless pressure to digitize, simplify, and integrate their organizational structures to remain competitive.

But there’s a big hole in the fabric of most digital transformation (DX) plans: the customer experience (CX). The problem isn’t that companies fail to understand the importance of the CX in relation to digital transformation. Rather, most fail to understand their customers well enough to envision a truly customer-centric, digitally-transformed environment. Just consider that 55% of companies cite “evolving customer behaviors and preferences” as their primary driver of digital change. Yet, the number one challenge facing executives today is understanding customer behavior and impact.

A massive part of digital transformation involves building a CX strategy, and yet customer centricity remains a top challenge for most. In fact, I encourage you to be your own customer within your organization. Walk in your customers’ shoes, contact your organization as your customers would. What was your web experience? Was the expert knowledgeable during a chat conversation? How well did the mobile app work for you? Did you have a connected experience? Given your experience, how brand-loyal would you be to your organization?

Here are three statistics that will get you rethinking your CX strategy in relation to digital transformation:

  1. 52% of companies don’t share customer intelligence outside of the contact center. In other words, over half of companies are limiting the customer journey to the contact center even though it naturally takes place across multiple key areas of business (i.e., sales, marketing, HR, billing). Businesses must ensure customers are placed with the right resource at the right time, whether it’s in a contact center or non-contact center environment. The key is being able to openly share customer data across all teams, processes and customer touchpoints.
  2. 60% of digital analytics investments will be spent on customer journey analytics by 2018. Customer journey analytics—the process of measuring the end-to-end customer journey across the entire organization—is critical in today’s smart, digital world. Companies are rapidly investing in this area to identify opportunities for process improvement, digitization, automation and, ultimately, competitive differentiation.
  3. 60% of customers change their contact channel depending on where they are and what they’re doing. This means organizations must focus less on service and more on contextual and situational awareness. Businesses must work to create a seamless experience—regardless of device, channel, location or time—supported by customer, business and situational context captured across all touchpoints.

The CX should influence every company’s digital transformation story. For more tips, insights, and impactful statistics check out our eBook, Fundamentals of Digital Transformation. Let me know what you think. We look forward to hearing from you.

3 Key Steps to Starting Your Company-wide Digital Transformation

Stats show that 80% of companies identify “digital transformation” as their top strategic priority—but only 5% feel they’ve mastered it. Why the gap? Achieving a digital experience to a point of competitive differentiation requires organizational alignment. Digital transformation represents a crucial paradigm shift across the entire organization, yet research suggests only a fraction of companies currently implement an enterprise-wide digital strategy. To successfully digitize, all lines of business (LOB) must be aligned and move in concert towards digital innovation. This involves communication and collaboration among key stakeholders, especially senior executives, across every business unit—even ones you wouldn’t typically include.

Put simply, digital transformation is more than just digitizing your infrastructure before your competitors do. Yes, it’s about serving the growing number of digital consumers faster and better. But, more importantly, it requires a shift in organizational mindset and redefinition of business processes. The starting point for any digital transformation initiative should be a clear understanding among all business leaders (not just IT) about the nature, direction and projected outcomes of the transformation.

What does the discovery process look like? It can be summed up in three key steps:

  1. Situational Assessment: Executives across every LOB need to weigh in and agree on business drivers and expectations. Insights derived from this assessment should be used to map out short- and long-term business goals and key digital strategies to ensure organizational alignment.
  2. Opportunity Prioritization: Identify target applications and technology architectures, then determine how these new solutions will affect existing technologies and align with core needs (i.e., operational savings, CX improvements). In parallel, use this time to identify, analyze and prioritize gaps between existing and planned processes.
  3. Roadmap Creation: A detailed roadmap helps you finalize digitization plans before implementation. It should outline phasing strategy sequences, risk mitigation plans, and project feasibility reports that define the timeline, dependencies, costs (and return) and controls of each digital initiative. Consider this your digital transformation playbook.

Digital transformation is the foundation of how organizations will succeed or fail. Check out our eBook, Fundamentals of Digital Transformation, to learn more about this discovery process—the first of a five-step plan for creating a foolproof digital transformation strategy. Let me know what you think. We are here to help and happy to discuss.

When it Comes to Your Customer Experience: Ditch Legacy, Go Digital!

The future of business, indeed the future of customer experience, is life as we know it—here and NOW. Organizational success right now, however, depends on one thing: digital transformation.

Digital transformation can mean many things, but includes a fundamental idea—applying digital technologies to all aspects of life. For consumers, they use their smart devices, laptops, tablets, and favorite apps to make it through the day. For organizations, this means figuring out how to leverage existing digital technologies (apps, processes, procedures) and resources (essentially the talent of your employees) within your business strategically to serve consumers on their terms at any moment—all the time. And to do so better than your competition. Digital transformation also means looking at your existing business applications, mobile apps, processes, procedures, and talent through a different lens.

A successful digital transformation requires a shift in organizational behavior and cultural mindset. It means creating a strategic road map that outlines implementation and ongoing process improvement. It requires executive buy-in, sponsorship, and steady leadership. Perhaps most daunting of all, it means companies working to truly know and understand their customers. It means enterprise leaders having a firm grip on the big data that infuses their organizations.

The reality of a smart, digital world is clear. Advanced technologies like IoT and virtual reality are no longer science fiction, but fact. So much so that in just three short years, it’s expected that 100 million consumers will be shopping in virtual reality, and up to 20 billion objects will be Internet-enabled. Meanwhile, automation and data analytics have evolved from luxuries to enterprise necessities. Driven by this rapid pace of digital change, analysts predict that 65% of children today will grow up to work in roles that don’t yet exist.

Companies need to successfully digitize to remain agile, integrated and future-proof enough to support this future of everything. The good news is that 80% currently identify “digital transformation” as their top strategic priority. The bad news? These same companies are seriously struggling to migrate from their existing aged processes and legacy systems and architecture. Consider industries like government, where 71% of federal IT decision makers still use old operating systems to run important applications. How can they go digital without having the latest platforms in place to support a digital environment?

Organizations can’t re-imagine operations, re-engineer critical processes, or align key business areas the way they need to while relying on antiquated technologies. But creating a migration path is easier said than done. We have said it before and we will say it again, it’s about more than just the technology.

Sounds challenging, but it’s not impossible. Our ebook, The Fundamentals of Digital Transformation, can help organizations get started. Take a look to learn more about the top challenges of taking legacy experiences into the digital world, as well as the five key steps organizations can take to minimize disruption and boost adoption of new digital capabilities. Let me know what you think. We are here and happy to discuss.