The Customer Experience Disconnect and Impasse

Dimension Data, a global tech integrator and provider of hybrid IT recently revealed the findings of its annual Customer Experience Benchmarking Report.

The report talks about an artificial reality that exists among its respondent companies, which Dimension Data’s Senior Manager Pranay Anand explains in his chat with EITN.

EITN: Please explain what digital integration is, and how it could drive customer experience. Please share some examples of a customer implementing this.

Pranay: Changing market dynamics and increasing stakeholder expectations are putting organisations under pressure to respond and thrive. They’ve moved from trying to understand the opportunity to developing a digital strategy; now, they’re grappling with how to accelerate traction and realise value. This is where Digital Integration (DI) comes into place as it enables data to be distributed across a myriad of systems helping organisations achieve the their digital transformational objectives.

Challenges linked to legacy operating models persist. Organisational culture and behaviours will either enable or limit success, and forward-thinking leaders are recognising that a truly customer-driven organisation is possible with the right people. 

When an organisation is fully geared to placing customers at the core of its operations, it forces people to think and act differently. In this environment, customers are encouraged to share their experience and perception – which leads organisations to prioritise, solve problems, respond to change, and evolve processes and leverage on technologies. As a result, digital channels become an integral part of CX, and are foundational to delivering real value.

Our recent partnership with Agoda, one of the world’s fastest-growing online travel agents is an example of how we are helping our clients accelerate their ambition in the digital era. As an Online Travel Agency (OTA), it is imperative for Agoda to be able to communicate with their customers across every possible communication channel. Dimension Data worked closely with Agoda to implement an omnichannel platform to enhance Agoda users’ customer experience. Our deep domain expertise in consulting services, skills and technical capabilities in Customer Experience technologies enabled us to help Agoda offer their customers a personalised, customer-centric approach across all communication channels.

EITN: What is a customer experience disconnect? Is it where tech and awareness spending for CX is not equal to the satisfaction/experience that customers are supposed to feel?

Pranay: Essentially, customer experience (CX) has reached an impasse. While a whopping 91% of business respondents in Asia Pacific see CX as a key differentiator in the crowded and competitive market, only 33% of respondents see it as a business challenge that’s prioritised by the board – signalling a worrying disconnect between recognising the importance of CX and bringing it into the spotlight as a critical business imperative. 

Furthermore, only 21% said their organisation takes a fully integrated, centralised approach to customer experience. Bridging the artificial reality gap starts with bridging gaps within the organisation: between strategy and operations, investment and implementation, and, most importantly, between people.

CX is less about technology, and more about adopting new business strategies and customer-centric attitudes. It seems there’s still some work to be done in shifting attitudes and operating models to being truly CX-focused.

Despite significant attention being given to CX-related performance metrics at board and executive level, commercial performance factors such as cost savings and return on investment tend to dominate the criteria used to evaluate the effectiveness of new technology systems.

EITN: What are the top factors that will reshape CX in the next 5 years?

Pranay: The top trends that will reshape CX in the next 5 years are: 

1.     Customer Analytics – Becoming data supreme by transforming big data into actionable result driven insights. Analytics is #1 factor reshaping the CX industry.

2.     Artificial Intelligence – Driving business growth and extending brand loyalty, through AI and predictive analytics. 72% predict up to a ¼ of human roles will be replaced by AI by mid-2020.

3.     Digital Integration – Connecting multiple customer journeys through omnichannel modelling and integration. Just 12% of digital business strategies are optimised.

4.     Mass Personalisation – Utilising our extensive experience in AI and analytics, to enhance customer lifetime value. For 50%, personalisation is still reactive and relies on customer self-identification.

5.     Robotics Process Automation – Streamlining the customer user experience, through the implementation of hybrid virtual assistants. 62% will have capability within 2 years.

6.     Workforce Optimisation – Ensuring workplace readiness for digitally on demand consumers. Some 38% of companies retain resistant, lethargic or neutral approach to change

EITN: How can businesses understand and create a new CX reality?

Pranay: Top-performing organisations are optimising their existing resources by combining technology and empowered agents to best effect — improve average handle times and reduce cost to serve. We’ve made this point before but it’s worth repeating because this really is the crux of successful CX: it’s less about the technology you implement and more about fostering customer-centric business strategies and attitudes.

This year’s survey results show there’s still some way to go in having every area of the organisation aligned with a clear, coherent CX strategy that’s truly focused on the customer. This starts with bringing all areas of the business into the same room (metaphorically speaking) so they can collaborate on defining and designing a CX strategy that can be applied in every area of the organisation.  For this exercise to yield the best results, having both IT and CX, or operational teams, in the room is a must.

 Challenges ahead:·        

Legacy systems and integration issues remain as the top challenge.

·         Another challenge is being able to secure budget for technology systems. Having a clear digital strategy that shows how technology solutions will meet user needs, and therefore encourage the uptake of digital channels, will help to allay fears of making poor decisions or going down the wrong path.

·         Involving CX teams in the design of technology solutions will assist here. Regular post-implementation reviews will help to determine whether all project objectives have been met. It’s just as important to include customer satisfaction metrics as it is to use cost savings and return on investment as a measure of success in these reviews.