Why Customer Experience (Lack of) Could Literally ‘Kill’ Your Organization, Part 1

23 Aug 2019

Introduction

Customer Experience (CX) is the new mantra for every organization that our consulting firm works for, from for-profit to not-for-profit organizations. It has taken center stage. It’s all about the customer, the patient, the member. It’s about success and survival for any organization moving forward.

According to a recent Walker study, as of 2020 Customer Experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. And according to the Temkin Group - Experience Matters, companies that excel at Customer Experience have 1.5 times more engaged employees than companies with poor Customer Experience.

There are also some other terms associated with Customer Experience. They include:

  • Digital Transformation
  • Business Reinvention
  • Business Transformation
  • Outcome-Driven Business
  • Customer Experience Era
  • Age of Disruption
  • The Feedback Economy
  • The “Amazon Factor”

No matter what name you attach to CX, the time is now to embrace it and leverage CX tools available in the market, or get left behind.

Customer Experience Over the Last 12 Months

In the last 12 months, our consulting practice has observed some of the following key trends:

  1. Customer Experience is now mainstream and is part of every organization’s delivery and culture. Every CxO with whom we meet during our interview process understands the importance and criticality of Customer Experience in today’s world. CX is now front and center on their short and long-term agendas and planning. They are now more willing to invest in CX-related technologies than just a few years ago. Why? See #2 below.
  2. Customer Experience is recognized as existential long-term. If organizations are not willing to embrace CX, it could be their demise in the end. Take for example Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster sometime back had the opportunity to buy Netflix and turned it down. Look at where Blockbuster is today. This begs the question: are you and your organization the next Netflix or the next Blockbuster? It all depends on your level of Customer Experience embracement.
  3. Customer Experience goes by a couple of different names in specific industries: "customer experience" in retail, “patient experience” in healthcare, and “member experience” in any kind of association or insurance plans, among others.
  4. Customer Experience, in my opinion, is driving digital transformation. Digital transformation was a hot word about 10 years ago, but didn’t get quite enough traction, but nowadays Digital Transformation is now a key word in the vendor and sales communities. Using DX and CX intermixed in any conversation will get the customer’s ear.
  5. Organizations now want to embrace Unified Communications and the full suite of Contact Center tools. It’s a far cry from just four to five years ago when UC was a tough sell getting any organization to use as a necessary tool in the organization’s technology war chest. Today, organizations we work with want to embrace these technologies. Customers now want to contact companies via the channel of their choice, multi-channel and omni-channel.

The New Dynamics, Market Shifts

There are many dynamics taking place in today’s market that are having a direct impact on Customer Experience. Here are just a few:

  • Higher Education – The survival of every brick and mortar college and university is being challenged by online universities. Keeping up with new student enrollments and constantly increasing tuition is becoming an increasing challenge for any student, any family today.
  • Brick and Mortar Retail – There is an entire shift of retail moving to online shopping. Just ask any Amazon customer. A recent straw poll at a conference showed that 200 out of 200 audience members were Amazon customers (100%), and 80% of those were Amazon Prime customers. As a retail customer, when do you not make a purchase today without reviewing the number of stars given to a specific product you’re planning to buy? And do you go shopping among multiple websites in order to get the best price possible from a reputable online retailer? Absolutely!
  • The Hospitality Industry – The Hospitality industry is now getting bombarded and impacted by a major shift towards vacation rentals which has now gone mainstream. Consumers no longer question whether staying at someone’s home has better value than staying in a hotel at a resort location. I happen to be an owner of a vacation rental property in the South, and sales are up year over year in the last two years.
  • Valet Transportation Services – Valet Transportation Services with the likes of Uber, Lyft and others, are totally changing the landscape of the transportation industry. Uber drivers have now replaced limousine drivers for valet services at many conferences we attend.
  • Healthcare – Healthcare providers are in major consolidation mode through mergers and acquisitions and engaging the patient at levels never seen before. A “patient for life” is no longer a fair or real assumption for any healthcare provider or any practice. Long wait times to make an appointment or to discuss a billing situation will result in patients shopping for another healthcare provider. We have interviewed clients stating that is what their patients are telling them. Patients are now clearly stating that they will shop elsewhere if necessary. And in today’s market, electronic health records help migrate these kinds of records from one healthcare provider to another provider easily.

These markets shifts are literally game-changing. It’s now all about the customer; no longer about the organization that sells to the customer.

Key Customer Experience trends this year 2019 include the following, according to Customer Contact Center Week:

  • From Multi-Channel to Omni-Channel – Multi-channel provides the ability to connect to customers via multiple channels – voice, chat, video, email, fax, social media. Omni-channel goes a step further, and unifies inbound/outbound communications to deliver proactive, contextual interactions to customers – seamlessly.
  • Voice is NOT Dead (Gen Z) – A couple years ago I started reading some articles online stating that voice was dead. No more, thanks to Gen Z and CX. CX is about forming relationships, and voice is the perfect channel for facilitating that relationship. Voice is now mainstream once again
  • Instant Messaging Will Take Over – IM is now taking over as a key tool for communication. Just go to most any retail web site, and within 30 seconds, a screen pops up asking if you’d like to chat, 24 x 7. Some of these are AI bots, and are capable of getting you through at least part of the conversation and more.
  • A Mobile-First Approach – the anytime, anywhere approach in today’s CX requires a mobile-first approach. People need to be available and on-call. Working from home is more and more common today and facilitated by this mobile-first approach. Healthcare, in particular, is a mobile-first community, with physicians being available and mobile across multiple sites.
  • AI, from Average to Good – AI in the Contact Center has been leveraged for chat, and now partnerships with Google Voice (and others), for example, are gelling to take on AI with a voice conversation and solve a customer’s problem or place an order.
  • Customer Self-Service Becoming the New Norm – Yes, customers want a self-service model to place an order online or complete a transaction. If they can make an appointment through a portal, they are all for it. They can complete a transition faster than with a voice call in many cases. Self-service helps impact the Customer Experience while managing staff models in the Contact Center.

Conclusion, Part 1

The market at large is shifting, and we need to respond to those shifts if we are to survive and prosper in this new world. We need to recognize and embrace major shifts in retail, delivery, transportation, healthcare, hospitality, and higher education to name just a few. We need to embrace how each organization can improve on their own CX and win over new customers, patients, members, or prevent losing them.

In Part B of this post I will cover CX expectations rising, a recent Amazon CX example, and leveraging UC, Collab and Contact Centers.