A healthy business evolves with the market and the needs of its customers, but when change is a constant rather than a one-time event, companies need a strategy that allows for continuous adaptation. True customer experience leaders predict what’s coming next, meaning they can keep on top of future trends.
How do you build this kind of strategy into the company culture?
1. Aim for customer experience centricity
Once, it was enough to talk about being ‘customer centric’: i.e. instead of ‘selling products’, companies’ identified customer needs and offered them solutions.
To achieve this, their teams needed a more holistic view of the people they were serving. The more companies learnt about customers, the more they could segment them. By doing this, businesses could map their offerings and marketing communications to each audience and its priorities.
More recently, businesses have further broadened this approach to encompass the wider customer experience and the different expectations of each customer profile. In the context of retail, for instance, Ernst & Young says companies should aim for the right mix of invisibility, indispensability and intimacy in individual customer experiences.
2. Deconstruct customer needs
Experience centricity needs to allow for individual differences too.
Using technology (like AI and analytics), companies can start to appreciate the nuances of each customer’s preferences.
In advertising, AI is transforming traditional methods, using data to find and target new customers with needs companies weren’t previously aware of.
Many of these emerging needs are related to experience and convenience. A lot of fintech innovation is based on filling gaps in traditional banking, for instance – accelerated access to mortgages, or access to credit for gig economy workers with an irregular and unpredictable income.
3. Tear up the rule book
Adaptability means having the flexibility to serve customers in the way that works best for them.
This can be a challenge for companies whose cultures rely on rule books and best practices.
Technology can help here, allowing teams to adapt to individual customers’ needs while at the same time ensuring that standards are upheld; for example, helping to feed the right information to the customer service representative at the right time, to ensure a good customer experience that doesn’t exceed accepted business parameters (e.g. an excessive discount).
The pandemic has certainly challenged businesses to be more innovative with personalised support. For example, it has prompted retailers to think outside the box about how best to advise customers who can no longer visit a store for face-to-face help.
4. Empower employees & decision-makers
An experienced sales or customer service team will have an instinct for what customers need at any particular moment, but employees trained to do things a certain way may lack confidence if asked to be more intuitive in their dealings with customers.
Empowering staff with the right tools and information at their fingertips to make the right judgement call can transform this situation, with better outcomes for both customers and the team members serving them.
Today, almost six in 10 organisations have yet to equip frontline staff with the latest technologies to make decisions that improve the customer experience, according to a new report.
Yet 90 per cent of business executives believe customer service would improve if their company used the analytics and data already at their disposal.