Where next for customer experience?


It’s no longer enough for companies to push their message out there and hope for customers to respond by purchasing their product or service. Most – at least the ones still in business – realise that they need to listen and respond to their customers at each stage of the purchase process. This seems obvious, of course. But with consumers relying on a variety of sources, from search engines to social media to forums for information, and multiple devices including mobiles and PCs, what should a company with limited resources be doing to best serve its current and prospective customers?

The advances in technology and the adoption of mobile devices have meant that globally, consumers are experiencing a mobile mind shift: the expectation that they can get what they want exactly where and when they want it. In parallel, the number of channels organisations need to support is proliferating and firms must now consider a multitude of new factors such as mobile screen resolutions, phone OS, mobile browser, handset and apps.

But according to a recent Forrester research report commissioned by Canon, most organisations are struggling to provide consistent customer experience across digital channels at precisely the same time that customers are becoming more vocal and expecting more from the companies that they’re buying from.

This is obviously an issue. But while digital channels are increasingly important, traditional channels like events, printed materials and face-to-face interactions are not going away either. What this means is that companies find themselves stretched to support a host of emerging digital channels as well as continuing to produce content for traditional channels.

A key challenge to serving customers across multiple channels is often lack of coordination. Sixty-one percent of the survey respondents highlighted lack of synchronisation across organisational silos as one of their top three challenges in serving customers on multiple devices.

When asked about the root causes for this lack of internal alignment, 46% cited lack of budgets, 38% pointed to cultural resistance, and 29% identified a lack of strategy. This suggests that there is a lack of follow through on companies’ stated intentions to pursue customer experience as a business strategy – even among companies that have identified customer satisfaction as a top objective.

Technical obstacles are another challenge to delivering positive customer experiences. Respondents reported that while marketing departments are mostly involved with the implementation of new communications tools, it is IT that is responsible for the identification of these solutions.

Companies need to collaborate well across silos as no one department can hope to control the technology agenda from end-to-end.

Some key pointers for providing a more consistent digital customer experience:

  • • Co-operate – build new structures that facilitate cross-functional collaboration. Don’t try to tackle customer satisfaction in siloes
  • • Be selective – no company can do everything. In the face of finite resources, companies should focus on the most relevant channels for their existing and prospective customers.
  • • Finally, be systematic – companies should update their approaches to governance and customer experience design, which might include new practices like co-creation, in order to envision, define and implement customer interactions that meet or exceed customer needs