Why is customer experience seen as more important in the digital age?

Customer experience has always been important.  What’s changed is the ability to deliver consistent and relevant customer experiences at scale and across channels. 

In today’s digital age, customers expect multichannel experiences where they can move seamlessly between channels and devices how and when they want. Even though the needs of each customer are different, they are all looking for the best price, the easiest buying experience and personalised service. 

And they expect to see the same price, same description and same brand as they move between channels.

Businesses recognise the push they’ve been given by the digital revolution, data explosion, and consumer demand for seamless cross-channel experiences.

And as today’s consumer is demanding and fickle, giving them the best experience possible has become a business fundamental, per an Accenture CMO Insights survey, to achieve business success and a greater bottom line in the digital era.

How is digital altering the customer experience in more traditional industries that are perhaps seen as stuffy and adverse to change? (e.g. finance industry)

The retail, consumer goods, and automotive industries, for example, have been striving to deliver such experiences to their consumers for years, but now we’re seeing a shift where more traditional industries, such as financial services, are looking to mirror their more consumer-facing colleagues’ successes. 

For instance, banks are finding that when they adopt a digital business and move away from reactive, transaction-based customer relationships and shift towards a more intimate, proactive and personalised experience across multiple channels, they are building trust and providing a renewed banking experience for their new and existing customers. 

How can improving the customer experience through digital help to reduce costs and increase revenue?

Delivering differentiated experiences to multiple customers segments in multiple geographies requires an efficient and effective digital infrastructure. Putting digital first presents an opportunity for clients to rationalise the internal processes across the enterprise, thereby reducing costs. 

Improved customer relevance and a seamless cross-channel experience will drive revenues.

What elements make up the customer experience? Is it just about customer service?

Providing effective customer experiences isn’t just about customer service or producing the best possible customer experience in a singular moment. It includes all the customer facing activities – marketing, sales and service. 

It entails absorbing available data, predicting the ideal experience, assembling the experience and delivering it consistently via the customer’s preferred channel.

Does customer experience make a difference if the price is right?

Yes, while customers will always be price-aware, our experience is that they are not willing to accept a poor interaction with a brand even if the price is right.  

Often times now, with the ability to switch between brands at the click of a mouse, companies are competing on customer experience rather than price.

Does mobile currently present the biggest challenge for businesses attempting digital transformation? Few businesses seem to have a coherent overall strategy for mobile, desktop and offline at the moment.

I wouldn’t draw out one channel over another as being the most difficult.  

Again, the challenge is knitting it all together so each channel is working in sync with the other.  We are well beyond the days of thinking about siloed channel experiences.

Which brands do you think currently deliver an excellent digital customer experience and why?

Some of the brands we all admire – Nike, Amazon, Google – are laser focused on delivering excellent customer experience and serve as the models for others across multiple industries.

There are so many factors that make up the customer experience. What is the best starting point for businesses seeking to evaluate their overall customer experience? Where should they begin?

All decisions involving the customer should start and end with the customer in mind. Businesses should ask themselves, “What would the customer expect?”

It’s also recommended for businesses to:

  • Appoint somebody be responsible for end-to-end customer experience.
  • Define what the success looks like.
  • Benchmark not only against the best practices in your industry, but also against the cross-industry leaders.
  • Define an end-to-end customer experience journey and create the process for its continuous evolution.
  • Develop an agile, iterative delivery model.
  • Measure and evolve.

Accenture Interactive is the Digital Transformation Partner at the Festival of Marketing.