Listen to your customers (because if you don’t, someone else will)

Chris Breslin_ConfirmitIn this guest post, customer experience manager Chris Breslin explains why the customer experience is now the front-line  in the battle for business growth and success.

Before it was just business, now it is getting personal.

As Australian businesses, retailers in particular, face unprecedented disruption from the continuing invasion of multinational competitors, the battle is on to keep their customers’ cash and loyalty.

Not only are these global brands causing downward pressure on prices due to their extended buying power, they are also bringing with them cutting-edge customer experience technology to ensure they get it right in a new country.

Before they have even applied for an ABN (Australian Business Number) they have already scoped out the competition, surveyed potential customers, analysed social media, collected data from online transactions and mapped out promising locations – all from the comfort of a computer terminal in their global head office.

Multinational professional services giant Deloitte’s 2016 Global Powers of Retailing report found only 39 out of the 250 top international retailers currently operate out of Australia.

Deloitte 2016 Global Powers of Retailing report

Those already here are aggressively expanding their operations and opening new outlets, while the second wave from the top 250 are expected to launch here over the next five years.

Any cultural advantage local businesses may have in knowing the essence of the Australian consumer is rapidly eroding as the global giants use specialised Voice of the Customer (VoC) solutions to capture, analyse and respond to their new customers’ needs.

This has meant home-grown businesses are facing significant challenges in order to meet their growth targets amidst this heightened competition and downward pressure on prices.

The customer experience has become the battle’s front line.

But until now Australian organisations have been slow to adopt the VoC technology that has transformed much of the international business world.

The Deloitte report warned that organisations that want to stay ahead of their competition will have to reimagine the customer experience ‘to offer a relevant and personalised experience throughout the customer journey through a deep understanding of customer preferences and shopping behaviours’.

Forrester backed this up in its set of predictions for the ‘Age of the Customer’: In 2016, the gap between customer-obsessed leaders and laggards will widen.

But Starcom MediaVest Group’s 2016 report, The Future of Customer Experience, revealed the laggards are far outnumbering the leaders in Australia.

SMG Media Futures report

SMG Media Futures report: 6% of marketers felt they implemented a true CX program

While 51% of Australian businesses believe Customer Experience (CX) is the most exciting opportunity for 2016, only 6% of marketers felt they were successfully implementing a true CX program.

Be a Leader Not a Laggard

For Australian companies, facing unprecedented global competition, the most effective way to address their customers’ needs is by adopting a Voice of the Customer strategy that will provide a PRIME customer experience, by:

  • Personalising a customer’s journey with an organisation by analysing big data and information captured through surveys, sifting through the real thoughts and attitudes expressed on social media and moment-of-truth feedback and then tailoring services for their customers’ specific needs.
  • Removing the department ‘silos’ that can reduce efficiency and impair the competitive advantage that can be gained from accurately analysed customer data. VoC programs provide a single point-of-truth, easily accessed from specifically-designed dashboards to ensure the entire organisation becomes responsible for the customer experience.
  • Interacting with clients in a natural, timely and worthwhile way. A choice of multi-channel surveys offers the right type of data collection at the right time for survey-shy and time-poor customers.
  • Merging seamlessly into a company’s existing system with user-friendly interfaces that can be accessed across the organisation.
  • Ensuring the privacy of customers by addressing the growing concern about data security. VoC platforms can be incorporated with fast, local and secure Software-as-a-Service environments that provides in-country data storage in accordance with the Australian Privacy Act.

Internationally, VoC solutions are having a real impact on Return on Investment (ROI) rates as well as NetEasy and Net Promoter (NPS) scores – tools used to measure customer loyalty.

A recent study by the Temkin Group*, which examined 10,000 US consumers and their experiences with 293 companies across 20 industries, found that a good customer experience had the largest impact on increasing revenue.

The percentage of customers who planned on purchasing more was 18 points higher and the number of customers who were more forgiving if a company made a mistake was 12 points higher.

Not surprisingly, a good CX had the largest impact on one industry in particular – hospitality.

The revenue of hotels with a $1 billion business increased by $823 million over three years.

In 2014, electronic consumables giant, RS Components, launched a strategic VoC program to drive and track customer experience improvements globally, to empower cultural change and business improvement.

In just the first year, the company’s NetEasy Score in the APAC region improved by 66 percent while there was a 33 percent increase in its NPS .

This correlated with ROI benefits for customer retention, sales and profit and average order frequency.

In the US, Philadelphia Insurance’s VoC programme enables the insurer to gain a line of sight into every part of the customer lifecycle.

Between 2010 and 2013, the insurer’s NPS rose from 52.7 to 55.3. In 2015 it was up to 57.2.

As Deloitte’s report concludes: ‘What is clear is those that stand still will be left behind.’

Chris Breslin is the country manager for Confirmit Australia

*- ROI of Customer Experience, 2015, Temkin Group


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