We’re soon in the 2020s and the Customer is now King – even more than ever. There’s not a company in this world who isn’t endlessly repeating the mantra Customer experience must be at the core of our strategy.
So, the intentions are good, but very often the reality doesn’t live up to this vision. Everyone of us has experienced situations where we as customers have been passed around like ping-pong balls between various online services, applications and customer service email chains.
The standards in Customer Experience are getting higher and higher, and the competition is truly global. Disruptive companies such as Uber, Amazon and Netflix have been able to re-think their entire customer experience and service journey from a clean slate. For these companies, Customer Experience is directly in-built in their services.
So what is holding traditional companies back from refreshing their Customer Experience?
Pasi Mantila, Managing Director of Sofigate Business Technologies, says that although companies are looking for quick wins, the key to real success can be found in approaching Customer Experience from a holistic point of view.
“Each and every one of a company’s core processes has an effect on the Customer Experience: sales, marketing, purchasing, logistics, finances… all of it! This means it’s no use to start re-evaluating Customer Experience from just one of these building blocks, but to take a look at the entire sphere,” says Mantila.
“What is the current situation? Which functions influence which other functions? What type of capabilities are needed to achieve the required transformation in Customer Experience? If an organisation’s functions are siloed and its processes, solutions and culture emit a stale reek of the 1980s, what are the chances it has a strategic grasp on developing Customer Experience?”
Technology takes leaps and bounds, culture crawls along
The pace of technological development has been rapid in the past decade, and it has been fairly easy for companies to gain access to world-class technology platforms. Unfortunately, technology alone doesn’t solve anything.
Sofigate’s CTO Customer Experience, Markus Frilund, is familiar with a situation where a company’s hunger for technological benefits ends up being unsatisfied.
“Technology can be an enabler of transformation, but if a company’s strategy is lacking, the success rate will be close to zero. I have seen companies try out AI, robotics, and other trendy technologies. While some have achieved interesting results, in most cases the actual business benefits have remained unclear. Many are eager to test and play around, but the enthusiasm evaporates when the moment comes to scale up.”
According to Frilund, a company is more likely to build up necessary capabilities throughout its organisation if technological innovations are based on a shared strategic vision.
“Innovations must be linked to a company’s strategy so that the goal is clear for everyone in the organisation. And it’s essential to be able to change course quickly if the innovation so dictates.”
Both Mantila and Frilund call for a back-to-basics mentality: to re-think its Customer Experience, an organisation must be able to re-think its business. Capabilities should be evaluated and developed holistically: this goes for processes, people, and tools alike. Technology needs to be supported by operational models that help understand the capabilities at an organisation’s disposal.
Putting Customer Experience into the actual core of an organisation’s strategy is a major transformation. Getting it accepted on the floor level requires patience and understanding. People and culture don’t change as quickly as technology does.
“For example, cloud solutions can be deployed amazingly quickly. But people take their time, as they always have. Large-scale transformation processes should thus be divided into smaller sprints, so that it’s easier to proceed with them,” Mantila advices.
Overtaking competition in the Customer Experience race – what does it take?
What questions should your company pay attention to when re-evaluating Customer Experience? Sofigate’s experts Pasi Mantila and Markus Frilund encourage business leaders to take heed of these in particular:
- Is your company equipped with a common framework that depicts its strategy, general architecture and business capabilities? A shared language and an understanding of the Big Picture are needed to facilitate cooperation and enable seamless decision-making.
- Does your company culture allow for evaluating Customer Experience honestly and innovating fearlessly? Using data is a smart way to facilitate meaningful conversation. Developing Customer Experience requires a clear situation check at Square One.
- What is your perspective into Customer Experience – holistic or siloed? Everything influences Customer Experience. A shiny façade provides no real support if background processes and systems are experiencing hiccups. When you are adjusting Customer Experience at the front level, make sure you understand how these tweaks affect the entire organisation.
- Are the tools used by Customer Service and Sales useful and user-friendly? Proper tools are the only way to get reliable data.
- How are you using data to better understand your Customer Experience and its possible weaknesses? When you are looking at analytics, always keep your actual KPIs in mind and concentrate on the right metrics that influence them. It’s too easy to play around with fancy analytics solutions that ultimately provide very little practical use.
- Do your partnerships support your goals? You must demand both agile innovation and a holistic approach from your Customer Experience development partners.
About the authors
Markus Frilund is Senior Advisor and CTO Customer Experience at Sofigate. His background is a combination of technological vision and a passion for developing business. Markus has a proven track record of nurturing ideas into new capabilities and products. He helps his clients find new ways to facilitate planning and decision-making.
Pasi Mantila is Managing Director of Sofigate Business Technologies. He is very experienced in leading various company functions and developing them by utilising technological change. Pasi gets inspired when he’s able to create value for a client by combining technological possibilities and holistic business transformation leadership.