By: Bill McMurray, Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Qualtrics
Customer expectations are constantly shifting. According to a PwC’s Total Retail 2016 report, consumers have significantly different expectations across, for instance, in-store environment, payment methods, delivery, and returns options. These shifting patterns of expectations mean that businesses should anticipate and adapt to these changes to ensure their customers will stay loyal to their brands.
However, while 80 per cent of CEOs believe they deliver a superior experience, only 8 per cent of their customers agree. A recent survey by Qualtrics also revealed that consumers across the Asia Pacific region feel ignored nearly half the time by their service providers in the financial services, travel and retail industries. These highlight a significant disparity that businesses must address in order to attract and retain their customers.
There are two sets of data: operational data “O data” and experience data “X data”. X data is the human-factor data, the beliefs, emotions and sentiments that tell you why things are happening and that help predict what will happen next. For too long organisations have only focused on collecting O data, and often fail by not leveraging their X data. This has led to a huge gap between most organisations’ ability to know what’s happening, why it’s happening and how to adapt, which is what we call the “experience gap”.
Organisations must bridge the experience gap by improving the level of customer experience they provide. When they are able to do this, they are more likely to generate higher revenues and grow faster than their competitors. Businesses should therefore be looking for ways to optimise the four foundational experiences they provide as a business – for their customers, products, employees and their brand.
With changing customer expectations, it is hence for recommended Asian companies to develop an Experience Management (XM) strategy which are focussed on these foundational experiences in order to retain and grow customers:
1) Customer experience
Customer experience is much more than tracking satisfaction. You have to know how your customers are changing, which one’s matter most, and how to attract them to your brand. This means that whenever and however your customers interact with you, you need to create a natural conversation between you and your customer through a wide range of feedback channels so that you can learn what they like, what they dislike and how to get them to spend more.
For instance, Qualtrics’ recent survey revealed at least 30% of the consumers expect a response on the same day when they share feedback or complaints on the company’s social media page, and more than 70% expect a response within a few days. If their problems are quickly resolved, at least 50% of the consumers indicated that they will like the company more.
Asking about customers’ experiences and, importantly, acting on the feedback can build greater brand loyalty and help optimise your brand’s image. When customers feel valued, heard, and understood, they are more likely to view the company favourably.
2) Employee experience
Keeping your finger on the company pulse and staying connected to employees is hard. Most organisation only focus on yearly engagement surveys and miss the opportunity to measure sentiment across the entire employee lifecycle. Using a sophisticated employee experience management platform that allows you to measure, analyse and act on the entire employee lifecycle can help improve engagement, reduce unwanted attrition, and build stronger teams by optimising key interactions across the employee lifecycle.
3) Brand experience
Brand experience helps create customer loyalty through valuable interactions between businesses and their audiences. When executed correctly, these interactions result in deeper emotional connections and greater brand affinity. For many businesses, their brand is their biggest asset and they should track awareness, equity, and perceptions to manage and optimise their brand strategy.
4) Product experience
Today you have to craft your product, features, and pricing long before your customers experience it and if your market is changing, you can’t be the last to know. Scanning consumer environments in real-time to uncover unmet needs lets businesses prioritise product features, measure user experience, and predict market adoption and usage. This, in turn, lets the business develop products that deliver a strong user experience, maximising customer loyalty and encouraging repeat business.
Embracing an XM strategy supports a culture of innovation and dynamic change, which drives improvement at every level. Even businesses that believe they already offer a superior customer experience should review their experience gaps because there are likely more improvements to be made that can boost the company’s standing in their customers’ eyes.
That leads to improved loyalty and increased purchases. A core component to the success of this strategy is speed and the ability to collect, analyse and act in real-time across all of the core experiences in the one platform.