Driven by greater customer expectation, a significant proportion of IT spend is focused on delivering superior experiences for customers. And, there’s a simple reason why – it helps generate greater revenue growth. According to Accenture, 75 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that knows their name, purchase history and recommends products based on their preferences.

But, let’s be honest. Simple digital experiences are considered a given. Customers want to feel a greater connection to the brands they buy and interact with. A recent 2018 Microsoft Australia study revealed deep insight into just how important the customer experience (CX) is. Across four business transformation pillars of operations, products, employees and customers, 505 mid-sized organisations rated engaging customers as the most important focus right now.

As if to underline that, 44 percent said that between 60-100 percent of their digital transformation projects are focused on improving the customer experience. Getting the customer experience right is big business. Yet, despite the vast importance placed on it, many organisations still don’t get it right. Further insights from Microsoft highlight that nearly 40 percent of mid-sized organisations said that between 20-40 percent of their customer experiences have failed.

Where exactly is it going wrong?

With such an unhealthy level of CX initiatives failing, it helps to dive deeper into the ‘why?’ and the ‘where is this happening?’

For Australian mid-sized organisations there are two or three very distinct and specific areas they’re struggling with most – and arguably, the ones delivering the most value. In short, they struggle to understand the customer properly (data), to create personalised experiences that places them (the customer) in control.

It all starts with the data

And, it’s not that organisations don’t recognise the importance of data. Gartner revealed that by 2020, more than 40 percent of all data analytics projects will relate to customer experience. So, the dollars are heading into the right places. But what specific customer data initiatives do mid-sized organisations struggle with?

Again, we turn back to Microsoft Australia’s 2018 study, which rated the ability of mid-sized organisations to fulfil 20 different customer experience initiatives. The bottom five i.e. the ones they struggled with most, were:

  1. The ability to personalise each customer interaction
  2. To identify ‘weak points’ in the customer journey
  3. Offer multi channel availability and integration
  4. Collect and action feedback from customers across multiple channels
  5. Making the customer experience highly accessible and giving them greater control

Of those five, it could be argued at least three relate specifically to an inability to understand the customer. In short, this means poor data collection processes and analysis ability. And, it’s vital they get this right. A Salesforce study found 76 percent of consumers think companies should understand their expectations and needs.

And, the knock on effects have major impacts. According to Accenture, thirty-three percent of consumers who ended their relationship with a company, did so because the experience wasn’t personalised enough.

So, how to solve a problem like poor data collection? Gathering, storing and analysing customer data is very challenging, particularly if that data sits across multiple systems and departments. For deeper insights into some of the particular paths you could take, read one of our earlier articles, transforming digital challenges into successful business outcomes. In this, we cover things you can focus on to get your data strategy up to scratch.

Put the customer in control

Customers want to do business on their terms, not yours. That means consistent availability across any channel of their choosing, when they want. If they don’t get it, they’ll simply walk (or click) away.

And the demand is there. A 2018 study from UC Today found nine out of 10 consumers want an omnichannel experience with a seamless service between communication methods. Another study from Microsoft found 90 percent of consumers expect companies to have an online portal for customer service.

But, self-service doesn’t mean losing control. Nor does it have to be big and expensive. For mid-sized organisations, automation is a blessing. It allows your teams to focus on what they do best, innovating for the future of the business.

Intelligent chatbots for example can facilitate the customer journey, allowing them to guide themselves, based on their preferences. And, if things get too tricky, the human element can always intervene. Technology doesn’t replace human interaction, it simply complements and enhances the overall experience based on what the customer wants.

Done correctly, putting the customer in charge of their own journey, saves them (and you) time. What’s more, you’re collecting valuable data about how and when they choose to interact with you. This allows you to constantly tweak the journey to suit their needs. How’s that for constant, real-time personalisation?

Integrate and communicate

Of course, for all the CX initiatives in the world, they’ll deliver nothing if you can’t deploy and integrate it properly across your IT environment, or with your people. Time and time again, these two factors are the biggest challenges for organisations of any size when it comes to delivering on the promise of customer experience. This is where the value of a digital partner can pay massive dividends.

It’s rare for these types of skills and resources to sit within your own organisation, particularly those in the mid-market. It pays to bring in the expertise of those who not only understand customer experience, but get your market and customers too. Seek out the skills you need, and let your team to do the job they were brought in to do. Grow and move the business forward.

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