The case for technology to drive customer experience

The performance gap between customer experience leaders and runners-up is widening, with those on top being disproportionately rewarded, according to research and advisory group, Gartner.

It said that organisations must ignore three myths in order to achieve a superior customer experience.

There are many factors that make customer experience leaders successful, and many are not in dispute.

“Organisations with superior customer experiences tend to appoint a leader, their executives are committed to the initiative and have a small dedicated team with 12 direct reports on average,” said Ed Thompson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

“They also involve a broad range of departments from marketing and sales, to supply chain, IT, R&D and HR.”

During the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Cape Town, Gartner analysts discussed how organisations are using technology and innovations to drive customer experience improvements.

“We also know that leaders in such positions are patient, build trust and honour privacy with their customers,” said Thompson.

“They don’t invest and hope. They clearly focus on customer emotions and not just the numbers, and have a common sense of purpose. But that’s not enough to be the best in your industry.”

Above all, customer experience leaders need to beware of three common customer experience myths:

1. Delight the Customer

Gartner research shows that the return on investment (ROI) of meeting customer expectations, and making their interactions effortless, is high.

But, as organisations invest to exceed expectations to delight the customer, and therefore drive up customer loyalty and advocacy, the chances of gaining a positive ROI are far lower.

“It’s not that investing to delight the customer doesn’t work, but its likelihood of working is lower,” said Thompson.

“Many organisations are inconsistent in the delivery of their customer experience strategy. While they are aiming to delight in one part of the organisation, they still require effort from the customer in another part. We recommend that organisations don’t delight, but rather focus on being effortless.”

2. Focus on Innovation

With all the new possible technologies to use in the cause of a superior customer experience, many organisations strive to be unique before they have examined what is already working in their own industries, whether that be in their home country or in another country.

Most innovation is just an imitation of an existing successful investment in a different geography or an adjacent industry.

“Too many companies are overlooking the benefits of imitation. You don’t need to come up with everything yourself.

“We recommend organisations don’t only focus on innovation, but rather consider the benefits of imitation,” said Thompson.

3. Correlate data

The explosion of customer data that has become available at low cost over the last 20 years means many organisations are collecting it and sifting through it to seek correlations from which they can make investment decisions.

Gartner research also shows that adding numerous channels and options to make things better for customers has the opposite effect — it makes the customer experience worse.

Leading organisations are looking more closely at what causes customers to make choices, and focusing on what jobs the customer is trying to get done.

“Organisations are better served by understanding what customers are trying to achieve rather than monitoring demographics or psychographic information,” said Thompson.

He pointed out that Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s paper, tries to help people address their jobs to be done, sparking an interest by customer experience leaders in really understanding what the customer hopes to achieve.

“Rather than just looking at studying customer data, you need to examine the needs that arise during your customer’s lives. We recommend that you don’t correlate — but understand the jobs to be done,” added Thompson.

“All three of these common myths are overrated. The most successful companies avoid overinvesting in these directions, and you do not want to do it either.”


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The case for technology to drive customer experience