Customer Experience is Pivotal to an Organisation's Competitive Advantage

By Dhiren Savla, CIO- VFS Global & Group CIO -Kuoni Group

In a well-connected world like today, where service experience is paramount for any customer, there are two major shifts visiblein customer experiences. First, rapid technological development of mobile devices and other forms of access pointsis being integrated in consumer behaviour, changing the paradigm of how consumers view and use services. Secondly, due to this increased mobility, speed in services, and reduced human interface, people areseeking more assurance in terms of security or reliability of services offered.

In fact, the very profile of the customer basehas undergone a drastic change – today’s customersareyounger, impulsive, well-informed and unabashedly vocal about their demands. This makes it all the more imperative for companies to keep a close ear to the ground.

Listening to the Millennial

In a dynamic business environment, there is a need for organisations to proactively seek a more in-depth understanding about their customers as part of their corporate DNA. Apart from gauging information from internal stakeholders or conducting industry trend analysis, it is paramount for organisations to be alert and gather data as to what their customers are saying on various platforms and their expectations, and to pre-empt their requirements. With predominant customer segment like the Millennial, organisations need to be listening to them on frequently used social media platforms, which is a highly expressive medium of communication.

Using big data to interpret Customer Experience (CX) can be very useful to drive operational efficiencies and expand revenue potential. There is no doubt that for larger corporations, this mode of dedicated listening and follow-up action does present an operational challenge, especially in gathering large quantities of data at eachstageof operations, especially from sources such as socialmedia. Listening closely to the millennial consumer can drive your business in this day and age and organisations need to adapt fast to this information.

But if it is incorporated across business lines successfully, the organisation’s brand value and reputation can take a significant step forward from a customer’s perspective.  Remember, sustained customer loyalty is driven by consistent communication and receptive feedback that directly results in quicker turnaround times in meeting customerneeds. 

Synergising feedback and innovation

Ensuring consistency in CX at each point of contact can be a challenge for businesses today. For predominantly customer-facing organisations like ours, standardising a world-class experience for visa applicants across geographies is one of our topmost priorities. To maintain a consistent brand experience across multiple business channels, itis necessary to make investments in technology and infrastructure, including developing a holistic data-driven feedback system.

Once achieved, it lays a strong foundation for both gauging the customer in a more comprehensive manner,and for developing innovative product solutions. Synergising these processes become key differentiators for the organisation in having a competitive edge.

Gauging customer feedback not a checkbox exercise

Businesses that do not proactively check whether theirstrategies are operational, or identify processes (in the CX programme) that need improvement, often face flak from their own customers, despite a strong product or service. In such a scenario, gathering and analysing CX data can be a major leverage for organisations to determine the direction they should be heading towards.At this stage, social media plays an important part for any organisation by engaging with customers, and gathering relevant big data through these media.

The key reason for slow growth is in adopting a product-centric approach over a customer-centric one. A fully functional CX process should be able to gather the customer experience data accurately the very first time, or else it runs the danger of becoming a checkbox exercise that can only serve to burn a hole in the organisation’s pockets.

Empower employees with customer knowledge

Developing a rock solid CX strategy with the help of big data, not only ensures customer retention but also accentuates the top line performance with repeat business and strong recommendations doubling up as revenues sources, apart from sustaining a competitive advantage.

To foster a strong customer-centric work environment, employees should be empowered not only with technology but also with insights into their customers. These insights can personalise interactions at the front-end and develop an authenticity about the brand and services. While newer technologies and breakthrough innovations can provide the competitive edge, the success of these initiatives depend on the CX levels prevalent in an organisation.

Customer-centricityin a B2B business

Even companies in a B2B categorymust gatherknowledge of serving and guiding customers and constantly innovating to improve their experiences. Customer-centricity is the cornerstone of any service-driven business, and the focus must remain on using this knowledge to adapt to the needs of clients or vendors who ultimately offer this service to end customers.

As an organisation, our strategy has always been to continuously work on our strengths –leverage technology, strong process-orientation and customerservice focus to meet the requirements of the customers in a secure and reliable manner in all our client partnerships.

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