Vinoo Prakash is responsible for formulating the product and platform development strategies at SunTec Business Solutions. He plays a pivotal role in defining platform and product strategy and coordinating product life cycles. His responsibilities include evaluation of the platform architecture and technology used for SunTec’s products, development of road-maps and definition of feature requirements. A seasoned professional with more than 15 years of experience in SunTec, Vinoo previously held roles of Head – Pre Sales & Consulting in SunTec.
We constantly read about customer experience in the industry press and blogs. It has become the ‘holy grail’ all businesses strive to attain – yet few get close.
Depending on what solution vendors offer and the ability of the business to implement those solutions, only part of the customer experience is addressed, at best – and it’s not for want of trying.
The simple fact is that technology alone cannot provide all the answers and businesses can no longer act like castles surrounded by moats to shield their customers from predatory competitors.
No amount of big data analysis can tell a business what is going on inside an individual’s head – it can give a guide based on historical activity, but we are not quite at the stage of reading the customer’s mind and being able to foretell their next move. Yet many businesses have been led to believe this is possible by clever marketers, especially in areas they don’t understand – such as social marketing.
Perhaps the focus should move to customer satisfaction. That must be a goal easier to achieve than providing the ultimate customer experience – or is satisfaction itself the ultimate customer experience.
We also assume that customers want to be bombarded by offers to keep them loyal. We offer them special deals (often reducing our margins in the process) and ‘reward’ them for being loyal with more discounts and free services. But we might be missing the point completely. Are these the types of customers we really want to keep – the ones that cost us money?
Businesses could save themselves a lot of trouble, and money, by concentrating on what makes the customers happy and satisfied and quite simply that is giving them what they came to you for in the first place.
If you are a mobile operator your customers probably want to be connected all the time, wherever they are, and have continuous access to the internet via their smartphones. Their apps depend on connectivity and they depend on their apps – that, and being charged fairly and accurately for the service, are the sum total of the customer experience they are after. If the mobile operator fulfills these expectations the customer will be satisfied and 99% of them will stick around until they become dissatisfied.
Take any business you like and apply the same basic rules and you will find the same results. Provide the customer with what he or she expects, with no surprises, and they will stick around. Of course, that is assuming that you, as the business, are managing the whole customer experience – and in today’s connected world, that is unlikely to be the case.
Most digital businesses have expanded their portfolio: a) because it is now easy to do so, and b) because they feel they need to in order to be more appealing and less reliant on a single product or service Like mobile, retailing, banking, insurance and health for example. We call this the world of convergence.
In this world of convergence a new set of rules come into play – those that were once competitors now become collaborators and any of their products services you offer must meet the same basic requirements outlined above.
Customers will not want to feel like they are dealing with ten or twenty different entities, it is ‘you’ they will be dealing with and their satisfaction will depend on how well you collaborate with your new partners in offering a seamless experience.
This may not sound easy and that is because it isn’t. The digital world relies on inter-connectivity-real-time and seamless – but not everybody has systems on the same platforms or at the same level of transformation to the digital world.
Some of these converged collaborations or alliance opts for a third-party cloud-based platform to integrate through, others opt for APIs to connect to each other’s systems, and some opt to enhance their own platforms to either host their partners or provide easy connectivity. At the same time, the best monetization and security approaches for success in the connected digital economy have to be taken into account.
The selection of a technology partner now becomes critical and selecting one with experience across a number of market sectors would be an obvious advantage, especially if they are familiar with the other systems and can speak the same language the new collaboration partners are familiar with.
Whatever option is chosen it is important to ensure that customer experience and satisfaction is not compromised in anyway.