by Alison Weiss, April 2014
How is your company evolving to succeed in the global marketplace? While every industry has unique challenges, the more than 1,500 technology and business executives who attended Oracle Industry Connect 2014 saw firsthand that, no matter what the industry, in order to stay relevant and competitive, the most effective organizations are finding ways to enable engaging customer experience.
Defined by Gartner as “the customer's perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier's employees, channels, systems or products," customer experience is a top strategic priority of 86 percent of customer service decision makers, according to a report by Forrester Research. However, only 30 percent of companies have dedicated budgets for customer experience initiatives.
Further, many companies struggle how to measure customer experience. Customer loyalty is a traditional method, but it can be very difficult to gauge accurately. Experts suggest that customer engagement, which is the extent of a customer’s willingness to invest time with a company for mutual benefit, is a better metric because it is easier to measure and influence, and it’s more strongly correlated to revenue and profits.
So, while organizations may understand that 86 percent of buyers will pay more for great customer experience, many still need clarity on the benefits and challenges associated with managing engaging customer experience.
At Oracle Industry Connect, experts and peers in Communications, Financial Services, Health Sciences, Retail, Utilities, Engineering and Oil & Gas industries shared strategies they’re using and the technologies they’re embracing to deliver outstanding customer experiences to drive success for their enterprise. Here are a few key insights.
1. You’ve got to cater to your customer more than ever before—and it won’t be easy. Today’s new generation of Millennial consumers are less loyal and more mobile—and they have a lot of money. According to Oracle President Mark Hurd, Millennials have more power and knowledge, due in large part to using technology products like smartphones. As a result, they are more sophisticated and have less patience. If they receive poor service, they will simply move on to another competitor. If businesses want to survive—and thrive—they will need to leverage new technologies, such as data analytics, to meet consumer expectations and to understand customers.
Customer experience is a top strategic priority of 86 percent of customer service decision makers. However, only 30 percent of companies have dedicated budgets for customer experience
2. Customer experience—it’s a team sport. For many enterprises, there’s no question that finance and IT decisions are made by the finance and IT departments, but it can be much less obvious who owns customer experience. Some healthcare organizations are hiring “chief patient experience officers” to be the go-to for customer engagement. Others are approaching customer experience as a team sport, making it the mission of the entire enterprise to function with the understanding that customer experience is not limited to the appointment between doctor and patient. Instead, it actually starts the moment the patient makes an appointment and ends with the resolution of financial matters.
3. The right technology can be a customer experience game-changer. For utilities, investing wisely in data analytics and strategic grid-facing technology can help improve customer experience by quickly isolating power outages and reducing the impact on customers. Some utilities are even using customer feedback to prioritize where to make cost-effective technological investments. When one utility discovered that customers prefer digital transactions, the investment in digital technology not only improved customer good will, it ultimately benefitted the utility’s bottom line. And for communications companies, smart customer experience strategies combined with best-in-class technologies can be a game-changer because the mix helps create relationships with consumers that are impervious to other market differentiators, such as technical innovations and price competition. The key is to build the right processes on top of business support system technology and to make sure that people are engaged.
4. Effective customer experience requires innovation—not just efficiency and productivity improvements. According to James Cash, Jr., professor and senior associate dean emeritus at Harvard Business School, company leaders across all industries need to focus on generating top-line growth. They need to consider what they are doing with IT that is designed to keep their companies in business. Companies can no longer assume they will stay in business and look to technology to just improve efficiency and productivity. For savvy retailers, this means incorporating strategic technological innovations to accurately predict what the consumer wants to order rather than simply quickly responding to consumer demands.
5. Look to other industries to help improve customer experience. Every industry has unique challenges and requirements, but when it comes to customer experience, it’s important to investigate what different industries are doing and learn from their successes. For example, retailers and utilities have embraced social media management tools that capture Twitter and Facebook posts so they can get real-time feedback from customers to quickly address customer service issues. However, healthcare organizations are not as evolved, and many are at the manual, rudimentary stage of tracking social media. Sometimes, the only way to learn about life-or-death patient care issues is when family members Tweet or post on Facebook. Implementing a more sophisticated system such as those used by retailers could automatically alert clinical managers in real-time about such social media posts. Such systems could go a long way to help address patient issues more quickly and improve customer experience.
For more insights and video from the event, visit the Oracle Industry Connect home page.
Alison Weiss is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area and a frequent contributor to Profit.