Excellence: a requirement reinforced by the digital revolution
Series – The new challenges of digital technology in business
Customer versatility. Influence of e-reputation. Ambush from start-ups. The digital revolution is deeply transforming the relationship between the company and its customers. What is the key to this new order? It’s ‘simply’ excellence, an essential requirement and condition for a successful digital transformation.
We know that the internet makes customers more versatile. Digital technology enables hopping: if the customer doesn’t feel the service is good enough, they’ll go elsewhere. In the United Kingdom, for example, it is possible to change electricity supplier within 24 hours via a simple app… the regulators contribute. Churn, i.e. attrition or loss of clientele or subscribers, is becoming the rule. After the telecoms and energy sector, banks with Open Banking are exposed.
E-reputation is spreading and contributing to this versatility. TripAdvisor and Google are becoming our main points of reference. The reviews posted by customers no longer concern only the product or the service, but the customer experience as a whole: “The salesperson was nice”, “I waited a long time”, etc.
Finally, there is the start-up ambush. A company must constantly adapt, take risks and move fast to avoid being “uberised” or disintermediated.
Faced with this new order, it is essential to deliver not only excellent services or products – that was yesterday – but an excellent customer experience.
A demand for excellence from end to end
The customer experience is defined by all the experiences the customer has, from the moment they want something until they give up the service or product they have chosen. Thinking in terms of an excellent customer journey therefore means thinking about the excellence of all the services or products that the customer uses throughout this journey.
This requires the whole value chain being at the same level of responsiveness and excellence. How would you react to an online selling service that only informs you that an item is available the next day? What about an online bank that takes a few weeks to send you your credit card?
This requires that the additional services (customer service, FAQs and shops) be at the same level and develop in tandem with the main service. What happens if customer service is not familiar with the new product that the company has just launched?
Front-office, back-offices and support services must deliver a chosen and consistent promise from end to end.
A demand for excellence on all fronts
Many companies invest in the front-office and leave the back-offices to one side. Bimodal IT (developed in 2014 by Gartner) is outdated. The banks have fully understood. Of course they invest a lot in online banking. But in parallel, they focus on the back-offices to make them more agile and able to serve the customer promise.
This requirement impacts on suppliers and partners, which are stakeholders in their customer’s value chain. Although the customer experience arose from B2C business, its demands are placed on suppliers and partners. Some B2B suppliers have taken them on-board and try to understand, or to involve their customers’ customers in the design of their products or services.
A demand for consistency between the company’s different ‘silos’
Because everything moves very fast, our large companies must find a way to coordinate the different silos that each deliver part of the customer experience. This need for consistency puts operational marketing at the centre of the game. This question queries the respective roles of ISDs, CDOs and marketing departments in maintaining the excellence of the customer experience.
Excellence therefore joins speed, the primary essential factor in the success of the digital transformation. Always faster and even better: this is the challenge digital technology creates for every company.
Jean-Claude Lamoureux – Group Executive Director – Sopra Steria Consulting