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Innovation

How to cement your status as a digital experience leader

Thanks to the digitisation of just about everything, customers today demand easy, frictionless and personalised experiences across multiple platforms. In an increasingly dynamic marketplace, organisations quickly lose relevance when customer expectations are not met. Brands need to up the ante on their digital experience efforts in order to remain competitive.

While organisations are recognising the need to evolve to meet customer demands, currently only a small group of organisations are using digital technologies to surpass customers’ expectations.

A new study from Accenture Interactive recently revealed as many as nine in ten companies globally struggle to deliver a digital experience that exceeds customers’ expectations. According to the report, although the majority of Australian respondents (72 per cent) have a clearly defined vision for customer experience, they do not believe they are exceeding customer expectations.

What’s more, only 7 per cent of respondents believe their organisation exceeds expectations when it comes to customer experience. As customer expectations become increasingly ‘liquid’—changing at a lightning pace—professional organisations are looking to provide fresh experiences customers actually value.

Marketing leaders need to recognise that simply following the lead of competitor organisations will not necessarily help them to create a digital experience that exceeds their customers’ expectations. This is partly due to the impact different levels of customer experience have on the revenue of organisations across industries.

The impact of customer experience varies based on a number of factors, such as: switching barriers, relationship value (multiplying the value of transactions by the frequency of transactions), recommendation effectiveness and enrichment opportunities.

In the paid-television category, for example, Australian providers such as Foxtel have high market share and significant barriers to cross in order to switch providers – meaning customers have little choice when it comes to picking a provider based on the level of customer experience they provide.

On the other hand, in other service industries such as wireless internet providers and banking it is a simpler process for customers to switch vendors. Personal recommendations also go a long way in these industries and there are plenty of opportunities at point of sale and beyond to enrich the overall experience. As a result, these industries see a lot of benefit from even a fractional improvement in customer experience.

While 45 per cent of Australian respondents agree on the importance of engaging directly with customers to improve customer experience, organisations often think ‘inside out’ – implementing initiatives to improve customer experience without ever consulting customers directly. By maintaining closer relationships with customers, organisations increase their ability to learn customer needs and preferences directly from the people who matter most.

Additional steps organisations can take to cement their status as digital experience leaders are outlined below:

  1. Align senior sponsorship: Ensure the CEO, CMO and CIO are all on board with transforming customer experiences. These executives play a unique role in bringing together operational processes with creative and brand strategies to ensure both front and back of house are working together to redesign processes to serve the customer.
  2. Adapt to a dynamic state of constant flux: According to the study, currently only 20 per cent of respondents believe digital transformation is an ongoing initiative and 72 per cent expect their digital transformation process will be complete within four years. To keep up, and ideally outpace customer experiences of competitors, organisations need to pivot into a state of constant analysis and redesign.
  3. Turn data into insight and measurable action: Invest in the people, processes, predictive analytics and data science technology needed to transform data into customer-centric insight. By building a continuous connection with customers, organisations can boost their knowledge of and responsiveness to customers.
  4. Identify and secure partnerships: Filling the gaps in skills and resources can be done effectively and confidently by leveraging well-chosen partnerships. This allows each company to focus on what they’re good at, letting others fill the gaps.
  5. Engage customers to help reinvent their experience: All too often, transformation is driven by organisations using an inside-out approach. By involving customers directly in design processes, organisations gain critical insights to help solve existing issues and anticipate future needs.

In order to drive improved brand relevance, customer loyalty, return on investment and overall revenue, organisations need to start thinking about experience transformation as an organisational mindset, rather than a series of projects and point solutions.

Michael Buckley is the managing director for Accenture Interactive in Australia and New Zealand.

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