Many firms failing on crucial customer experience in digital era

Only through collaboration between all customer-facing parts of a business can it deliver the customer experience that is crucial to survival in the digital era, according to CXP Group consultant Nicole Dufft

Many companies are failing to deliver a good customer experience, which is crucial now that it is possible to change brands easily and complain on social media, according to a strategy consultant.

“Although 90% of businesses polled see customer experience as important, the majority do not have someone to oversee and integrate all the customer interactions or touch-points,” said Nicole Dufft, vice-president, digital enterprise at research and advisory firm CXP Group.

“Leading companies understand that customer experience is important and have typically sought to address this by setting up multidisciplinary teams or taskforces comprising representatives of the marketing, sales customer care, and the IT departments,” she told Computer Weekly.

Large organisations need to have this collaboration between the various customer-facing departments and IT to enable a truly 360-degree view of the customer, said Dufft.

“The goal is to get an overview of each customer from the first touch-point in a marketing campaign, all the way through the sales process and interaction with the product, to customer care,” she said.

Although some countries in Europe are fairly advanced in this regard and take a comprehensive approach, this is not true for many organisations, she said.

“We generally see a fragmented approach with customer data, systems and customer interactions tending to be in separate silos,” said Dufft.

“The reality is that few organisations currently have a comprehensive, integrated approach to all those touch-points along the customer journey.”

But this is a problem in the digital era because customers have so much more power to have a direct impact on business earnings, she said.

“They can easily change to other service providers with the click of a mouse button and they can share any negative customer experiences on social media, which can damage a brand,” said Dufft.

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Only through collaboration between product developers, sales teams and customer care teams can organisations deliver a good experience to the customer, she added.

“If product development gets feedback from the customer-facing parts of the business, then customers will have a better experience with future versions of products and services,” she said.  

But many organisations, particularly larger ones, face technological, social and structural challenges, she said.

On the one hand, companies have an average of 4.5 different systems that collect customer data – and some have 10 or more – but these are typically not integrated, said Dufft, and customer identity is key to that integration process.

Unwilling to share data

On the other hand, various parts of the business tend to be unwilling to share customer data, she said. “Sales is typically unwilling to share its customer data with any other departments because that data is key to achieving their KPIs [key performance indicators] on which their pay is based, so there are a lot of cultural and organisational things that are preventing people from collaborating around customer experience.”

Typically, said Dufft, customer experience is potentially handled better by smaller companies where there are fewer people involved, and a single person may even be in control of all the data that needs to be integrated.

“For smaller organisations, it is crucial to get the understanding of just how important it is to think and plan from the customer’s perspective rather than any internal considerations,” she said.

For all organisations, customer experience is becoming essential to survival because consumers typically move to competitors if they are unhappy, said Dufft. Also, it is becoming increasingly important for organisations to think and plan in terms of data privacy, especially companies that deal with customers in Europe, in view of the EU General Data Protection Regulation that comes into force on 25 May 2018.

Dufft will explore the topic of developing an holistic customer experience strategy at the KuppingerCole Consumer Identity Summit in Paris on 22 and 23 November 2016.

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