We live in the ‘age of the customer’. A time when your customers use whatever channel that suits them to interact with your brand. They are spending more and have access to more information about your brand and products, than ever before.
The flip side is that those customers are two swipes away from a list of reasons why they should switch to your competitor. Some individuals in your organization may question the value of investing in CX, indeed in turning “customers” into “customer journeys”.
However, the truth is the internet – making the competitive information for goods and services universally available – and mobile technology – making information available on demand, anytime and anywhere – has turned the world of marketing, sales and support upside down.
In today’s age of the customer, investing in customer experience (CX) has never been so business critical. However, a successful customer engagement strategy needs to go beyond a one-off scenario and make each stage of the customer journey a priority.
Can a brand in today’s mobile age afford to wait for customers to come to them? The answer is emphatically no. Reactive enterprises must turn into proactive ones. And in order to understand their customers and users better, it is crucial to gather as much information as practical and use it.
First and foremost, CX has always been about silos. We have customer experiences at the store, bank branch, call center. We enter into transactions, we receive marketing messages. There is a lot of data out there. For decades, pundits have told us we are drowning in data created by the internet.
As artificial intelligence (AI) penetrates our economy, we are moving from a world where we think we have too much data, to a world where we will never have enough. AI models learn from ‘relevant’ data. When we introduce new ‘events’, we are never sure if the events are relevant to the outcomes that we are trying to predict. With so many new sources of information which may or may not be ‘relevant’, being proactive in customer-related activities is harder than it looks.
Turning customers into customer journeys
A customer’s experience represents a series of events that reflect many details, such as demographics and changes over time, like marriage, salary increases, and changing homes. This also includes sales, marketing, support, social media, and macroeconomic events. Life-changing events, such as a new baby, retirements, are also important pieces of the puzzle. Cerebri AI, for instance, has determined that the more we track these events, the more we can understand a pattern of behavior and subsequently, brand commitment. We assign a number to each customer journey that indicates its value.
However, commitment to a brand and products is not the only key performance indicator (KPI) that companies and organizations are concerned about. A great example of this is the wireless business.
This industry has had massive growth in revenue for decades, yet it still struggles with relatively high churn rates, that can reach 1-2 percent per month. These companies worry about their brand, but their number one revenue KPI, in many cases, is reducing customer defections or churn. Especially when considering that there are more mobile phones in operation than there are people in most advanced and emerging economies. It is tough to find a new wireless customer who does not already have a phone personally, or in a family plan already.
Again, customer journeys help to increase positive results in all customer-related KPIs, but in the enterprise, as with public entities and organizations, the rule is if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. In other words, assigning a value is essential.
A report by McKinsey states that customer journeys are 30 percent more predictive of customer satisfaction than measuring individual interactions and that using customer journeys can increase customer satisfaction by up to 20 percent. This in turn has a positive impact on revenue and churn. Moreover, a premier automotive OEM recently indicated that every 1 percent increase in sales retention translates to a $700 million increase in revenue annually, which is an average of $150,000 per dealer.
Artificial intelligence has a unique role to play in allowing companies and organizations to take advantage of the opportunity in the new era of customer experience, bridging the existing gap between the customer as an individual and their journey, to unleash profitable growth.
The crux of customer experience now rests on how committed we are to an omnichannel experience. This is a non-trial question that requires what a customer wants to experience, and how do we get this done in as close to real-time as possible.
The bottom line is being serious about customer experience in an omnichannel world means shaking the enterprise to its core. Omnichannel customer experience does not just mean making an offer. It means delivery, logistics, execution, keeping our brand promise. This can only happen if there is total support from the highest level in the organization. The CEO, C-suite must be committed to making this happen. Otherwise meaningful progress will be modest at best.