Why is Transforming Customer Experience so Hard?
Today we are part of the Experience economy, whether it’s B2C or B2B. In this customer-first, digital era, there is no other choice than to differentiate your company by building frictionless, memorable, exceptional experiences. This article goes into some examples of what can make or break customer experiences.
Customer experience is the top priority for businesses when it comes to making a difference in their market – to survive, thrive and reach the peak of digital transformation. As Gartner1 reports: “While 95% of business leaders believe CX teams must deliver a superior or world-class customer experience, most CX leaders doubt their current project selection strategy can accomplish these goals.” The same report also tells us that: “Customer Experience drives over two-thirds of customer loyalty, outperforming brand and price combined.” Another reason impacting sales, and hence the need to focus on CX.
‘Experience Economy’, ‘Customer-first’, ‘Age of Customer’, ‘Digital Transformation’, are buzzwords used liberally in our industry. But it’s important to recognize that each in its own right is a critical component that contributes to customer experience. We don't refer to these buzzwords just for the sake of it, but because they are real, current challenges for all organizations. The one thing all these concepts have in common is the experience of the customer, be it a company, an individual or an organization. Here, I’ll explore and shed some light on this.
The concept of Customer Experience is hard because, even if typically considered to lie under the marketing umbrella, it doesn't belong fully to any clearly identified part of the organization, just like Digital Transformation. Associating the experience of a customer to a specific part (or parts) is wrong, and too many companies make this mistake.
Sales and Marketing is Customer Experience, as obviously, they are the interface to the customer, especially in the crucial phase of buying. However it doesn’t stop there.
Product and Services is Customer Experience as, if a product or a service does not deliver on its promise; if the value derived from it by the customer doesn’t materialize; or if the value is inferior to others options on the market, it leaves the door wide open to a negative customer experience.
Order Management is Customer Experience, because it can clearly make or break the promise of the marketing and sales pitch, all too often we have experienced this as consumers, and it’s even more prevalent in B2B relationships.
Supply Chain is Customer Experience as it can provide new levels of efficiency, predictability and visibility.
Support is Customer Experience as its core mission is to ensure the company can promptly fix issues that might be experienced by the customer.
This list of "... is Customer Experience" could go on and on. As you can see many parts of your organization can have a strong impact on the customer experience. In fact, Customer Experience is the result of all parts of your organization.
Transforming and Digitalizing silos.
So, as much as it is fairly easy to assess your customer experience, changing and transforming it for the better becomes a huge challenge as it will impact all functions of the organization, as well as how they collaborate with each other. All aspects of your Customer Experience need to align and play well together. It's clear at this point, that the more your organization is siloed, the less easy this transformation will be.
Many organizations tend to omit, ignore or postpone the real transformation challenge, focusing instead on solving/ improving/ transforming each silo independently, one after the other. We get the idea: if all things are contributing to CX, lets improve all things which will naturally improve CX! However by not tackling it holistically, you won’t necessarily get to the point you want.
Let’s take a typical example from a B2B product company in a regulated market. Scenario: This company decided to focus first on improving the onboarding experience for its resellers, digitalizing part of this process: attracting them and getting their application digitalized, but then it kept all other processes following the initial onboarding offline, under the ownership of the traditional sales team, resulting in it being partly disjointed.
The end result: Building up a digital promise that was not kept. Once approved, resellers coming from that channel expected a digital self-service to operate their buying activity, but ended up having to wait for the sales team to continue their journey in offline mode to start sourcing and distributing products. The sales team, for its part, were not incentivized nor properly prepared to take on this new sales channel which ended up having clients with very different profiles than their original usual suspects. As a result, the team neglected this channel (despite the buyers coming to them) and kept its focus on its traditional acquisition channel – good old field prospection.
Consequence: The buyers’ expectations were not met by the sellers. At the company level, this was perceived as a failing digital transformation initiative, hurting if not pausing the DT effort, and more importantly stalling CX which led to an erosion of the traditional channel in favor of competitors who had already implemented digital self-service after on-boarding.
End of the story: The company saw its revenue stream drop, while its opex remained high, and sooner, rather than later, it lost its market share.
Now What? Breaking Silos is Customer Experience!
Before improving things separately, companies need to transform themselves. It’s not about transforming each silos, its about breaking them down.
The road to a better Customer Experience will undoubtably involve a large amount of reorganization and change, and this will depend a lot on the maturity, agility and readiness of your organization to take that transformative journey. There are many, if not too many, organizational frameworks to help companies assess their digital maturity, and eventually, deliver their transformation with the right approach. A lot of our consulting partners can support you in such a change, and naturally, technology is also here to help.
One thing that will always be true: for both the organizational and technological aspects, it won’t be an easy journey, it has to be progressive, and will include some experimentation and adjustments along the way.
Modern Digital Experience Platforms like ours, API-driven and modular instead of monolithic, have been created for this purpose. Among other key capabilities, its modular approach helps to break down the silos in your organization at the technology level by unlocking the value of each set of features step by step. Also, it allows you to progressively invest without heavy upfront cost.
This approach builds up the Experience layer, the glue connecting many business systems used by the different part of the organization – ERPs, CRMs, CDPs, Support systems etc. And it’s building this layer one step at a time, that minimizes risk of failure and maximizes business outcomes.
Why not book a conversation with one of our team to discuss our approach and optimize your customer experience?
1 Gartner for Marketers: Creating a High-Impact Customer Experience Strategy © 2019 Gartner, Inc. Published 16 January 2019 — ID G00705782