Customer experience: It’s something many APAC companies talk about, but not nearly enough are putting it at the core of their businesses, according to recent research from Forrester.
To wit, the research, commissioned by Adobe (CMO.com’s parent company), found that only 29% of brands in Asia Pacific can say they are experience-driven businesses.
So what does customer experience mean today, and how can business leaders apply it to drive great performance from their organisations and encourage lifelong loyalty from customers?
Beyond Customer Service
First off, there are good reasons for becoming experience-driven. The Forrester report found that, in APAC, brands focused on CX achieve an annual growth rate of 23%, compared with 13% for non-CX-driven organisations. And while the costs are higher, businesses focused on customer experience enjoy more than twice as much return on ad spend and a doubling of their customer lifetime value.
According to Scott King, chief operating officer and co-founder of Accordant, a great customer experience is much broader than great customer service.
“Customer experience extends across all stages of the customer life cycle and engagement of a brand,” he told CMO.com. “Every touch point has to be fully tailored, and the experience has to be personalised for each individual.”
Ted Stites, executive vice president of CX and marketing technology solutions at Merkle APAC, agreed. An experience, he said, is about identifying the intersection between your brand and how the customer wants to engage with your organisation and brand.
“You really have to understand the full life cycle of your engagement with a customer to appreciate what the experience is that they are looking for,” he told CMO.com.
An experience-driven business also has a deep understanding of where customers are in terms of the experience they are having.
“You need to be able to tailor that to their particular moment in time and what they’re really wanting to do,” Stites said.
Stepping Up With Innovation
Another aspect of customer experience is the ability to unify the brand’s promise with the experience that the customer is having, said Michael Buckley, managing director, Accenture Interactive Australia and New Zealand.
“There’s research that shows that 80% of businesses think they are delivering a great customer experience,” he said. “But the reality is that only 8% of customers think they’re getting a great experience.”
The challenge for organisations, then, is to bridge this perception gap. One of the ways that this can be achieved is through innovation and disruption.
Uber is a quintessential example. The ride-hailing company took a technology platform and the smartphone, combined them with GPS and software engineering, and turned the transport industry on its head.
“Disruption is hugely important when it comes to innovation,” Accordant’s King said. “If we look at brands like Uber ... they’ve done that using technology and innovation.”
It’s critical that innovation also come with a purpose, Merkle’s Stites added. He described innovation as another name for opportunities missed by one organisation but capitalised on by another–but he also said that missing out on an innovation is no reason for complacency.
“It’s not necessary to pioneer a disruption, but it is necessary to think about where there are opportunities to be the first mover in your market,” he said.
Disrupters In Pole Position
Accenture Interactive’s Buckley said he applauds companies that are at the cutting edge because they are the ones providing the sorts of customer experiences that keep people coming back.
He also warned that business leaders apprehensive about investing in new technologies and experiences should be prepared to go the way of Blockbuster.
“The reason that you are going to go out of business is because you haven’t invested in the innovations that are going to save the very product or service that has been invented in that space,” Buckley said.