One of the biggest shifts during the pandemic was to bring customers from every demographic into the digital experience fold, and do it in a hurry. Organizations that shifted online quickly and successfully had the first-move advantage, while those with clunky and disjointed experiences lost customers, and in some cases, their business.
The world is beginning to realize that experience isn’t limited to customers or consumers alone, but the entire ecosystem—including employees, partners and vendors. An unhappy employee can never delight a customer, nor can poorly connected backend processes. The pandemic exposed how interdependent we all are, from the well-being of factory workers and delivery pros, to supply chain partners, customer support representatives and technology providers. Customer experience (CX) is an ecosystem, and each link must be safeguarded in an increasingly mutually dependent world.In our Innovation Index report, two-thirds of the executives we surveyed say that increasing customer satisfaction is a top goal over the next two years, and that the demands of customers (or constituents and patients) are a primary driver of strategic and operational change. CX is also garnering some of the largest digital experience (DX) technology investments from consumer-oriented industries, according to the IDC Spending Guide .
Today, more than product quality and cost, creating and nurturing empathetic experiences is critical. And in a world that is increasingly encompassing physical, digital and hybrid spaces, success will mean customer lifetime value.
Customer and employee experience is simply good business. Happy employees will spread the cheer and demonstrate it while dealing with customers. And research after research has shown that investing in customer experience has a direct impact on revenue. Post Covid, this correlation will become even stronger. Organizations that can provide the right experience to their customers and employees will be rewarded with lifetime value.
The pandemic has helped make consumers more emotionally invested in their favourite brands. According to “The State of Brand Loyalty 2021: Global Consumer Survey”, 68% (compared to 59.8% in 2019) will go out of their way to purchase from brands they're loyal to, and 56% (compared to 34.5% in 2019) of those people will do so even if there are cheaper options.
Customers and employees alike are more informed and loyal; they have high expectations from their organizations and are not looking only at what you do, but how you do it, too. This means that one wrong step and all the good that you’ve built over months and years can pass on to your competitor in a flash. And there is no playing catch-up. A financial services study revealed that 35% of Gen X and millennial customers want hyper-personalized services to help them meet their life goals and are willing to share their personal data and pay more for those services. While customers are willing to give organizations their data and trust, it means organizations have that much more responsibility to value and nurture it to sustain loyalty.
And that loyalty is not a steady state; a well-informed customer is quick on the uptick and has no qualms switching over to a competitor. Because today it’s not just what you sell, but what you stand for and how you conduct yourself—because the socially aware and morally responsible customer is constantly watching. Corporate stance on issues like diversity or social justice aren’t mere marketing, they’re promises, and your customers will call you on them.
How to drive customer value in a highly competitive world where customers are seeking hyper-personalized experiences?
Surprisingly, respondents did not place high value on the people in their organizations who support the customer experiences–employees.
Building trusted digital experiences is the key to success. While revenue growth can happen via cost-saving measures, lasting business value can happen only when you build those digital experiences that earn your organization lifetime loyalty.
For healthcare providers, this could mean a smiling and caring staff with the right medical records at hand. For banks, it might mean hassle-free and quick digital transactions. And for retailers, it could mean a seamless experience from browsing and selecting a product on line, to customizing the final selection in store, and then completing the transaction with a payment made via an app at the point of sale.
Creating digital experiences that guarantee loyalty begins with understanding your customer needs, incorporating empathy as you build the experiences, and using data-driven technologies to build and deliver those experiences securely.
“Digital-first organizations that stay laser focused on customer experience, while keeping pace with rapidly changing customer expectations, will win the day. To support those strategies and create seamless and frictionless experiences, organizations must prioritize personalization, and use data insights and AI to inform experience delivery, as well as modernize their applications strategy.”