From vacation rentals (Airbnb) to thermostats (Nest Labs), every industry is vulnerable to digital disruption. And in many cases, it stems from improving the customer experience. In this first article of a two-part series, we’ll explore some compelling statistics and market influencers that support the business case for a customer experience transformation.
No one has ever complained that his or her customer experience was too good. In an age where even advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data are becoming democratized and available to companies of every size, the customer experience is the key differentiator.
Therefore, it’s no surprise top-performing brands — Amazon, Google, Ford, Apple and others — all deliver exceptional customer experiences. In today’s consumer-driven market, customer experience is king. Organizations in all industries are finding a competitive advantage and building brand loyalty by putting customer expectations at the forefront of their business strategy.
It's a smart investment when you consider eight in 10 consumers are willing to pay more for a better experience, according to a report by Capgemini. Additionally, a survey by Aspect revealed 54% of consumers stop supporting a company after a bad experience. And a Microsoft report found that 57% of U.S. consumers admit their expectations for customer service are higher today than they were one year ago.
The need to deliver an unparalleled customer experience isn’t lost on IT leaders. The 2017 Insight Intelligent Technology Index revealed 49% of IT decision-makers are concerned about improving customer experience, and 38% are focused on driving more consistent customer engagement.
For years, companies have collected massive amounts of customer data but lacked a sophisticated way to glean valuable and actionable insights from it. Now, AI algorithms can analyze this data to identify patterns that predict behavior. By harnessing the power of AI and big data to engage better with customers, your business can anticipate what customers will need and when they'll need it.
AI can also help provide more seamless, personalized customer engagement. This is crucial since 66% of consumers expect a business to know their contact, product, and service information and history when they reach out for assistance, according to Microsoft’s report.
Integrating AI is a strategic, long-term investment that can yield increasing returns over time. According to a 2018 survey by MIT Sloan Management Review, more than one-third of industry-leading companies that have invested in big data and AI have seen measurable results, which translate to a 53% success rate in improving customer service.
But delivering an enhanced customer experience isn't just about foreseeing your customers’ needs — it’s also about being accessible on demand.
While 2017 was hailed as the year of the chatbot, there’s no reason to believe chatbots are a passing craze. A robust chatbot or virtual agent can help you answer thousands of inquiries simultaneously and provide 24/7 customer service — a big win when 41% of U.S. consumers expect a response to a social media question or complaint within a day, and 18% expect a response in less than one hour, according to Microsoft’s report.
Meeting consumer expectations is by no means limited to customer service. Advanced analytics can track the customer journey to help you discover fall-off points or gaps in the user experience. Businesses are also winning customer loyalty through intuitive custom business apps, which are an effective way to infuse personalization, convenience and marketing.
These apps use emerging technology to surprise users with innovative features or capabilities. For example, a previously tedious task is made easy by automating steps in a process or connecting various data sources to present a more cohesive experience. Another use case is leveraging Augmented Reality (AR) to let users see a product in previously impossible ways. In either of these cases, the technology enables a more satisfying, even fun, user experience.
“Business agility” is another hot phrase decision-makers can’t ignore. Advanced analytics, AI and big data all help provide an accurate barometer of consumer trends — but the insight is useless if your business is unable to pivot to meet new demands. Market changes are happening at an unprecedented rate. Sometimes success depends not on an idea, but on how fast you can bring that idea to market.
Achieving business agility to increase speed to market requires more than just a strong IT infrastructure. Investing any amount of time and resources into a new idea or product is a risk. Aligning with an outside partner can help you craft a detailed strategy, analyze return on investment and assemble a team of industry experts to make your ideas become reality — no matter how impossible they may seem.
Think about your customers. What can you provide that they might not even know they want until they have it? What pain points — no matter how trivial — do they experience when engaging with your business?
Remember these words from Insight’s Digital Innovation leader Matt Jackson, “You can never over-deliver the user experience. You can never create a customer experience that is better than what people want.”