In the age of digital transformation, with an ever-increasing number of customer touchpoints, easy accessibility to a plethora of choices and the growing proliferation of cloud and advanced analytics technologies, the entire marketing and sales funnel is changing. With customers looking for highly personalized and relevant experiences, enterprises need to rethink their customer acquisition and retention strategies to remain competitive.
We spoke with Steve Chitwood, Senior Director of Digital Business at Mindtree, to learn his perspective on this subject.
Zinnov: Why do you think Customer Experience (CX) should be considered a critical component for business transformation in today’s digital era?
Steve: In today’s digitally-connected era, there are no boundaries to define markets and give an advantage to certain enterprises. With many competitors, both domestic and international, entering the market, customers have a wide variety of options available for the product or service they require. Brand loyalty has become fickle, and enterprises are finding it increasingly harder to win customers on price alone. The market trends indicate that customer experience is emerging as the real differentiator which can help enterprises win business amidst the ongoing transformations.
Zinnov: We see that a lot of enterprises have already started to redefine their CX journeys in some fashion. In your opinion, what should organizations do to accelerate this transformation?
Steve: Everything we talk about in this space is predicated on a progressively deepening understanding of an enterprise’s customer. This starts with understanding who the customer is, what their needs and wants are, and identifying the existing gaps. Enterprises should clearly identify where they are in terms of their customer experience journey: Are they meeting the customer’s needs? Are they fulfilling the customer’s expectations? Are they delighting customers, retaining them and making them brand advocates?
This should be followed by in-depth customer segmentation and mapping the various customer journeys. Next, enterprises should create an initial baseline defining the current state, prioritize areas where the gaps and opportunities are, identify the technologies, strategic resources and processes that are needed to reach the desired future state — and then quickly move towards it.
Zinnov: That’s a great outline for the overall strategy. But going deeper, what are the building blocks for the modern customer-focused organization today?
Steve: First, let me answer that from a customer perspective. The ideal experience comprises three aspects. One, the experience should be channel agnostic, allowing consistency and frictionless movement across all channels. Two, it should be personalized and relevant: the customer needs to feel that they are recognized and understood. And three, the experience should be delightful and propel the customer to do business with you and be an advocate for you among their peers. This is the most important differentiator that helps businesses win.
Coming back to the original question: if I were to tactically see how enterprises go about satisfying these needs, the first aspect is the customer data strategy executed through a customer data platform. The second aspect would be the functional capabilities in the marketer’s toolbox — everything from content management systems to marketing automation to CRM and the enabling technology
underpinning the toolboxes. Most enterprises with high CX maturity are increasingly placing big data, cloud-based architecture and advanced analytics at the core of their CX approach, and utilizing them for decision making, automation, activation and direct engagement.
Once you have the right tools and technology in place, the next aspect is to leverage them to create the customer genome and enable those channel agnostic and seamless personalized engagements at each touchpoint that we talked about earlier. You cannot have a conversation purely about technology in this space. There is an organizational transformation that has to come along which focuses on optimizing internal processes through agile practices and DevOps adoption.
And finally, there is the need to address the new and complex governance and security issues which are a byproduct of the ongoing transformation.
Zinnov: Great insights on the building blocks. What are the top success matrices that an organization should track to measure their CX effectiveness?
Steve: I think some of the core matrices that businesses have used internally such as customer lifetime value, cost of acquisition, order value and order frequency are extremely important and their continuity needs to be maintained. While there are engagement metrics such as customer progression velocity that are hard to quantify, but they are becoming essential. There is a need to set benchmarks and evaluate these engagement metrics to gain a deeper understanding of the impact and effectiveness of various touchpoints.
Zinnov: What do you think are the myths/pitfalls that an organization needs to overcome in their CX journey?
Steve: One of the biggest and most common pitfalls that we see is not defining the end state before getting started. Having said that, another fatal strategy flaw is trying to fully understand the target state before starting to pursue it. This flaw leads to paralysis by analysis. The organizations that are making the most progressive and having iterative wins are the ones that identify key use cases, understand the required future state, and then quickly start moving towards it.
From the technology perspective, a big mistake enterprises make is trying to find a service partner that has demonstrated expertise across all technologies and all scenarios. I don’t think it is a realistic endeavor. The more reasonable approach is to find a partner with solid skills in a few key areas and an appetite for innovation while simultaneously building a culture of collaboration with vendors.
Zinnov: Can you give us examples of how you’ve helped companies enhance and accelerate their customer journey?
Steve: One of our clients, a global financial services company, was not able to effectively engage customers who had signed up. We helped them build their customer genome, incorporating data from media exposure, click stream traffic and behavioral information. This enabled them to make targeted and personalized engagements with their customers from the get-go.
Similarly, we helped a global CPG company design a holistic customer data platform that gathers and analyzes intelligence created at each customer interaction to deliver insights at speed and scale across all activation channels.
So, in a nutshell, we help our clients to personalize their entire customer journey and have a real relationship with each customer throughout the lifecycle.