Connecting the dots to create relevant customer experiences

Catering your business to customer needs will align your interests with theirs, helping turn prospective customers to customers, and existing customers to loyal brand advocates.

Some years ago, German automaker Volkswagen was in a musical mood. So overnight, a staircase in a subway in Stockholm, Sweden, was turned into a giant piano. The piano keys produced music as people walked up and down the stairs. Volkswagen’s piano staircase was a result of its internal assessment that consumers are more likely to respond to something that is fun. I happen to agree. Because that day, 66% more people ditched the escalator and took the stairs in that subway.

An automobile company encouraging people to walk. Doesn’t happen quite often! There was more than the “fun” angle to Volkswagen’s campaign though. The larger attempt for the automotive major was to establish itself as a pro-environment automobile brand in a society moving rapidly towards vehicles powered by cleaner fuels. The company chose to put its patrons at the centre to create an experience for them, and subtly bundled a benchmarking message.

Why would Volkswagen do such a thing? Because today, customers are looking for more than just quality. They want to feel cared and valued and want companies to be mindful of their impact on the ecosystem. In fact, 70% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience, according to a 2017 survey by McKinsey. Creating your comfort haven and thriving within it is important, but it’s business critical to look beyond and create new experiences.

No wonder companies across sectors are working overtime to outpace their competition by investing heavily in improving relevant customer experience. Airbnb’s “We Accept” campaign against racism, P&G’s “Run like a Girl” initiative, and Amazon’s ambitious drone delivery project are all part of their efforts to touch a human nerve. As knowledge becomes more pervasive and consumers become more aware, creating unique customer experiences is the only way brands can differentiate.

The BPM industry too, in the last few years, has journeyed beyond just outsourcing and process management and has embraced new-age digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), and the Internet of Things (IoT), to deliver enhanced customer experience. As a result, companies across industries are also leaning on business process managers to improve their customer service quality.

Saying it with numbers

Delivering a standout customer experience is all about marrying online and offline data and initiatives, and creating an emotional connect between the brand and the customer by engaging them and putting them at the centre of their strategy. That’s exactly what Volkswagen’s campaign did.

The BPM industry has also taken a cue and is increasingly developing solutions based on the specific needs and requirements of clients. For instance, innovative people practices were implemented and talent management processes were re-energised for a major U.S.-based network operator to address their high attrition rate. These solutions helped reduce the attrition rate from 43% to an industry best of 13%, increasing process efficiency by 20%, and saving over $15 million. This led to fewer gaps in service delivery, substantially enhancing their customer experience.

The notional advantage

Tracking a customer’s journey is a great place to start if you want to enhance customer experience at your organisation. A customer’s journey can be defined as various touch points that a customer goes through while doing business with your organisation. The aim here is to map out different experiences that users may go through and benchmark them for future use. Creating an overview of a customer’s historical and present journey with your organisation will also make it easy to track where the experience breaks down for a customer, and also help map their potential future brand engagement.

Great customer experiences are meant to mend loopholes in a way that the customer’s journey is consistently satisfactory and seamless across multiple touchpoints. To leverage a customer’s journey with your brand to the maximum, attempt to treat each user’s journey as one long-term relationship. At the end, find ways of applying learnings from a single customer’s journey to another, so that you get closer and closer to each customer over time.

Building a marketing strategy requires us to provide value in every interaction. Even if the person never becomes a customer, they still want to walk away with a positive response to the product or service your company provides. And in a perfect world, that knowledge can influence what services you offer. Catering your business to customer needs or expectations will align your interests with theirs, helping turn your prospective customers to customers, and existing customers to avid and loyal brand advocates.

The article was first published by Fortune India.

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