Customer Experience Technology: Growing Customer Satisfaction
So far, this has been a very good year for the U.S. economy, with solid GDP growth and strength in many other economic indicators, including business and consumer confidence. Many business owners and CEOs are responding to the robust economy by making business investments designed to position them well for growth not only this year, but also in the years to come. Customer experience technology is one critical area that owners and CEOs shouldn’t neglect: making it easier for your customers to interact with your company can result in transformational changes for your business.
Shifting from a Short-Term to a Long-Term Focus
Several large corporations have been first movers when it comes to implementing customer experience technology — think Amazon, Spotify and Sephora. In a recent survey, three out of four CEOs said their company’s top objective was improving the customer experience. BlackRock Chief Executive Laurence Fink put it this way in a recent Forbes.com article: “Today’s culture of quarterly earnings hysteria is totally contrary to the long-term approach we need. Quarterly earnings don’t articulate management’s vision for the future.”1
Investing in customer experience technology is one way to shift from a short-term to a long-term focus for your business. But doing so takes vision and even courage — because the returns may not materialize right away. Amazon can get away with not earning a profit every quarter, but most other businesses can’t.
If the potential “carrots” that can be derived from investing in CX technology don’t motivate you, then maybe the “sticks” from not investing in this technology will. Oracle’s Global Insights estimates that there is a 20% annual revenue loss for businesses that don’t offer a positive customer experience.2
It Starts at the Top
The Forbes article goes on to identify five areas that will be critical customer experience areas this year. Improving customer interactions by investing in customer experience technology starts at the top of the organization. For such an initiative to be successful, the CEO must get actively involved in the customer experience strategy and lead the charge in creating a customer-focused culture. Businesses that have successfully used technology to improve the customer experience tend to have CEOs who care about the customer experience and make it an integral part of the corporate culture.1
Here are four more critical elements to a successful implementation of CX-enhancing technology:
1. Focus on personalization. Customers are becoming less and less tolerant of being bombarded with non-personalized messages that aren’t relevant to them — whether it’s TV commercials that are skipped using a DVR or Internet ads and pop-ups that are ignored and cancelled. In fact, we’re moving toward the age of “hyper-personalization” in which customers will no longer have to put up with non-personalized messaging. CX technologies like machine learning will make this possible.1
2. Embrace data. To effectively personalize messaging to your customers, you must embrace the use of data to identify opportunities to improve customer experiences. For example, Sprint now uses self-learning and predictive analytics to identify customers who are at the highest risk of churn and make personalized offers to them to keep them from leaving. Since implementing the technology, Sprint has reduced customer churn by 10% and boosted customer upgrades by a factor of eight.1
3. Take advantage of the customer experience cloud. Unlike the customer service cloud or the marketing cloud, the customer experience cloud brings together customer data, digital experiences and personalization to manage customer interactions more efficiently and enable a more seamless customer experience. By integrating these different clouds, businesses can know what their customers are thinking, how they’re communicating with the brand and what products they’re interested in. Customers have a better idea of what to expect from the company while the business can customize responses to customers’ inquiries and needs.1
4. Utilize augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). As popular as online shopping has become, there are still limitations because you can’t physically touch, feel or smell the merchandise before you buy it. But AR and AI are enabling businesses to create virtual realities where customers can interact with products almost as if they were holding them in their hands. For example, an app enables Sephora customers to “try on” lipstick and blush virtually, while a Wayfair app lets shoppers see how furniture and décor would look in their homes in 3D before buying it.1
Your company could realize many positive outcomes by implementing customer experience technology, including the following:
- You can achieve first-mover status and gain an early competitive advantage.
- You’ll gain more repeat customers and boost customer retention.
- Customer profitability will increase.
- You will operate a state-of-the-art enterprise, which can boost employee satisfaction and productivity.
- You’ll enjoy higher growth rates and improve your chances of achieving long-term financial success.
Many business owners and CEOs are responding to the robust economy by making business investments designed to position them well for future growth. One critical area that shouldn’t be neglected is customer experience technology. Making it easier for your customers to interact with your company can result in transformational changes. A part-time CFO or a project CFO can help you implement customer experience-enhancing technology at your business.
1 Five Trends Shaping the Future of Customer Experience In 2018; Blake Morgan; Forbes.com; December 5, 2017
2 Global Insights on Succeeding in the Customer Experience Era; Oracle; 2013
The Role of Finance in Creating a Customer-Centric Culture
John W. Braine, Partner, CFO Edge, LLC