Nitin Rakesh, a distinguished leader in the IT services industry, is the Chief Executive Officer and Director of Mphasis.
Imagine the joy in knowing that a food delivery company can take a fresh, hot meal to an elderly relative living in a remote town hemmed in by snow — or having hotel staff going out of their way to ensure that a child with food allergies gets just the kind of nut milk she needs first thing in the morning at a location far from home. Or, imagine a disgruntled customer being surprised mid-way through an enervating phone chat with customer service agents with the happy sight of a hot, piping pizza sent over by the very company at the other end of the phone line!
Incredulous as these instances sound, scores of such inspirational customer experiences are rewriting the rules by which businesses are run. According to a Gartner trend report, more than 80% of companies jostled to compete based on customer experience (or CX) in 2019, up from the mere 36% in 2010. Other studies have found that focusing on CX can drive up revenue by 4%-8%. Further, such companies are also seen to outrun stragglers by almost 80%. As for those who haven’t yet joined the bandwagon, there is hope, as a report on CX suggests that simply prioritizing CX has helped up to 84% of businesses grow their revenue.
The Shift From Price And Product To The End-User Experience
As a seasoned customer-focused industry leader, I have witnessed firsthand how this shift is playing out among businesses. Companies are no longer able to build a solid customer base by relying on either product or price. Instead, increasingly, across industries’ verticals and geographies, they are having to pivot toward building customer loyalty based on their ability to transform.
This is because in today’s digital era, where the customer is in the driving seat, businesses that want to be “in it to win it” must be committed to being structurally, architecturally and functionally primed for iteration. That’s what gives companies the ability to be in tune with their customers, respond to their needs and surprise and delight them with services and products that are new, unique and promising.
Let us take a look at how this is playing out in a few industries.
Consider, for example, San Francisco-based car insurance company, Metromile. Contrary to car insurance policies that charge a standard rate irrespective of where the car owners live and how much they drive, Metromile offers “pay-per-mile” insurance. Its unique approach ensures that car owners benefit from paying rates commensurate with how many miles they actually cover. Additionally, Metromile ensures that the ground they cover is tracked continuously through a smart device plugged into insured cars. The device not only serves as the driver’s GPS tracker, but also helps to purvey car health, track details of accidents in real-time, thus enabling hassle-free and quicker claims settlements.
To me, what companies like Metromile powerfully demonstrate is the importance to map products to the customer journey. Everyone doesn’t drive cross-country these days for either business or pleasure. So, it makes business sense to craft insurance policies that reward low-mileage drivers with a cover that is made affordable and personalized through smart technology.
Tracking Emotion To Improve CX
Now, let us look at how greater attention being paid to CX is playing out in the logistics industry. More commonly associated with being a B2B business, companies in the shipping and logistics space are increasingly becoming B2C businesses with online retail occasioning a bump up in-home delivery. This is also a shift that global delivery companies are witnessing.
Some delivery companies say that up to 50% of the sum total of deliveries they do in the U.S. nowadays consists of daily stops at residences. As a result, senior leadership at these firms has been paying close attention to customer journey with a view to fixing pain points by identifying, understanding and addressing them.
One of the ways in which some global logistics companies are doing this is by measuring customer emotion. Instead of attempting to alter or improve every single touchpoint along a customer’s journey, these companies are looking closely to isolate the real difficulties clients face with doorstep deliveries, changing what doesn’t work and ensuring that customer frustration is replaced by customer delight.
A consumer study conducted recently on customer experience in the shipping business confirms that FedEx ‘leads the pack’ in delivering exceptional CX. The study suggests that one of the strengths FedEx demonstrates is the investment it makes in its staff through appropriate training and empowerment to share ideas and feedback freely. A workforce that feels its employer has their back is inspired to go the extra mile to ensure their stakeholders — the customers — are given a stellar experience.
Pivoting Toward CX From C-Suite To Shop Floor
In my view, efforts to pivot business operations to align with sticky customer experience work best when there is buy-in right from senior leadership to the shop floor. After all, if you want to stand out as a responsive customer-focused company in these times of commoditization, you will have to ensure that every single person whom your customer can potentially come in contact with displays the same recognizable values.
As consumers increasingly move their loyalty from legacy brands to experiences, businesses need to pivot their approach to mirror the customer journey. It is no longer good enough to have a great product at a great price. It is, rather, more important to have a valuable, unique and memorable experience that anticipates customer needs.
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