Customer Experience has really caught the attention of new age marketers. They are relentlessly identifying ways in which the experience of the customers while evaluating, procuring and availing the products or services is enhanced. Digital stands to play a big role in augmenting this drive, but there is a lot more to it than just scratching the surface.
Let me build that argument.
I personally believe, when we talk of innovation, customer experience must be put at the centre. In our organization a lot is being done to innovate for enhancing customer experience.
Examples would include running loyalty programs consistently and transparently, locating store merchandize with speed, allowing for a convenient exit for the customers, providing a digital wallet, and making the transaction and billing information readily on the mobile phone.
These are ‘at the edge’ initiatives and a strong focus on the complete value chain is a must to support the former. Using digital to track the movement of products from suppliers to our stores, inventory management within the store and outward movement when a customer buys them must be tracked for the right information to be available ‘at the core’ to strengthen the customer experience drive.
Though technologies exist today for innovating for customer experience, it involves huge investment and efforts towards the change management involved. Apart from investing in a modern infrastructure, reskilling seems to be a very important task.
The range of contemporary technologies, spanning mobility, analytics, DevOps, APIs, data management, virtualization, micro services, cyber security etc need training and development of skills of technical people.
It also requires preparing line of business managers in appreciating the new ways to conduct business and enhancing their capacity to consume exponentially growing data.
Digital offers a lot of opportunities, but to exploit these opportunities to the hilt, ‘the core’ infrastructure and applications need to be overhauled for customer centric innovations to run effectively and efficiently.
While we are on a journey towards building a holistic and well-integrated IT platform that allows for standardized data definition, cross domain data flow and process integration to create innovative customer centric applications, the dream seems to be unfolding gradually. We are in the middle of running pilot projects aimed at streamlining the value chain for gaining better efficiencies and driving better customer experiences. The initial results are very encouraging but mostly on account of gaining efficiencies.
Sustaining these gains along with improving customer experience over time is a goal that is challenging but not impossible.