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Customer Experience Can No Longer Be Left To Chance
Leading players of diverse industries shared insights on the importance of customer experience and the emerging challenges associated with it during BW Businessworld roundtable discussion.
Customer experience, CX for short, is the most important aspect for businesses to thrive today. By making sure that the consumer sustains a great experience with the business— before, during and even after obtaining the product and services is the finest way to guarantee both customer acquisition and retention.
To understand the steps required to deliver a top-notch experience for customers, BW Businessworld organized a discussion in association with Sitecore in Bengaluru inviting marketing and technology thought leaders. The leading panel conversed about how customer experience is the new battleground for businesses and why companies should be hyper-focused on delivering better CX.
With an objective to empower organizations to recognize the crucial role of customer experience for business, the roundtable broadly formulated dialogues around why CX is crucial for business growth, how to turn CX into a competitive advantage, having the right people with the right CX technology skills, ownership of MarTech stack, and the gaps in CX today.
Introducing the very timely and extremely relevant topic for all businesses, Daya Prakash, Consulting Editor, BW Businessworld opened up the session saying, ❝Customer experience cannot be left to chance. At times businesses are not able to grow at adequate pace despite all the parameters of growth showing a good uptick. This is due to barriers in the retention of customers. If an organization observes the overall integrated journey of a customer then they can find all the loopholes in providing customer satisfaction that they are not able to fulfill at one time or the other.❞
Suresh Subramanian, Sr. V.P. & Head - Branded Formulations, South Asia, Biocon Ltd, said that the primary question many companies face is how to put the customer in the center? ❝How do you get everyone to collaborate and see the consumer’s journey in its entirety? To be able to improve customer experience starting from innovation on behalf of the customer to satisfaction of the customer, it demands a collaborated effort where the entire organization is leveraged. This to happen, depends on the customer culture within and hence remains a challenge which organizations keep battling with.❞
According to a Howard research review on customer experience, CX is one of the most critical elements of any organization. To survive as well as thrive in business, organizations have to focus on this element. Balasubramanian, CIO, Cloudnine Hospitals said, “Cloudnine Hospitals began with the idea that pregnancy is not an illness but wellness. Every aspect of the pregnancy and delivery should be celebrated and the customer deserves the best experience during this time.
From a business prospective point-of-view, Paul Ruban, Director-GTM, Fossil India, explained the key objectives which should be implemented to provide good consumer experience. ❝In today’s world of the crowded and competitive marketplace, consumer experience is fundamental to any business. Therefore, it should an integral part of value proposition development or strategic initiatives being built for the company and its products. Currently, there is a lot of disconnect between the initial stage of planning or designing a product to offer the products to the consumer. It has to be a seamless and interwoven process, as the consumer experience journey continues even after sales. It is very important for consumers to be able to trust the brand and seek knowledge from them at every stage.❞ he said.
Suman De, Director- Product Management, Cleartrip shared what all he has done at Cleartrip in terms of making sure how he retains the customer. ❝The brand Cleartrip is based on the experience that we provide. We focus more on engagement and solving the base problems as it is evident that these engagements will eventually lead to conversion into loyalty in the product and help in building retention.❞
Malini Nambiar, Director- Technology Strategy at Schneider Electric believes that 'customer first' should be every business’s priority. ❝In this rapidly changing business scenario, there is a sea change in the behavior of customers, in the way they think, they make transactions, their expectations from us- it’s a time of instant gratification for the Gen Y&Z - Businesses are evolving from what it was before; Digitization will soon be the new normal and therefore, it is a huge imperative for us to understand this changing landscape and adapt swiftly to ensure their businesses are bringing to the table what customers are expecting. That is why CX is on top of our charter. At Schneider, we ensure prioritizing the need and expectations of our customers, focusing on customer experience above all.❞
George Smith, Regional MD, Horizontal Integration, gave a different view, ❝If you add all the tangible assets like cash, machinery, buildings or lands of the top 500 companies in the US then all that would total to only 10 percent. This signals how competitive advantage has changed over the years as intangible assets like brands, software and customer experience of the same organization values at a whopping 90 percent. You cannot just buy 90 percent of intangible assets but can only grow them.❞
❝Deep down, culture and technology play a huge aspect which affects the quality of user experience. Most organizations have dedicated teams for CRM, customer experience, and customer service but it doesn’t boil down to the whole organization. The intangible 90 percent value does not come from a single team of five dedicated members unless the culture of an organization in a top-down approach is dedicated to it.❞ adds Parag Dhakan, Head-IT, Tommy Hilfiger Arvind Fashion Private Limited.
Sudhakar Pai T, MD, Kurlon Enterprises Ltd. agreed saying, ❝One of the best ways to understand a customer is both internally and externally. While externally, we have customers who buy our products, internally, is the HR department of most organizations even aware that the staff of the company is their customer? I doubt and I believe implementing the satisfaction of experience is highly important both ways.❞
Speaking of the lineage of mentorship for profitable business, Chandrashekhar Vattikuti, CPO at InMobi said, ❝Companies with founder driven ethos or strong institutionalized practices are able to make the journey of improving customer experience. It is because they very well know that their reason for existence is the customer. What kills many such initiatives is the lack of clear lineage between these activities or these improvements at the operations or at the functions level and the resultant betterment in business metrics. Many firms do not have the patience to run these programs when the lineage of effort to business results is not clear.❞
The discussion brought forward future-focused CMOs, CEOs, CIOs, and CDOs of various industries. The session also introduced the leaders with some surprisingly unfamiliar challenges that different industries like education and healthcare face.
Ayan Ghosh, Sr. Direction- Marketing at Simply Learn said, ❝It is very advantageous to talk to customers first-hand, but not everyone in the company gets the scope to do that all the time. Therefore, companies need to focus on analytics when it comes to tracking customer experience. They should be analyzing what causes customers to engage and what turns them off.❞
❝A lot of transformation is happening in the education sector in terms of acquiring and delivering for retention. Customer experience plays a key role as a service in the industry. To keep up to the brand of Manipal, we believe in matching the market expectations through successfully providing the best customer ex.❞ adds Sami Ulla, CEO, Manipal Academy of Health & Education.
Jasdeep Singh, COO of Columbia Asia Hospitals added explaining how in a business where disappointment is inevitable, everyone expects to come to a hospital and be cured. ❝Many times we are not able to live up to that expectation which is extremely challenging. This business requires a lot more patience, interactions and empathy to understand why exactly something happens, to explain in a manner to be understood and expect that the patient or the family will choose us again. This is an entirely different dimension that we struggle with.❞
To manage this challenge, Jasdeep shared that Columbia Asia hospitals have digitized feedback process which has helped them in reaching out to the patient while he is still in the hospital instead of how earlier it used to be a follow-up process. ❝Today our business runs on 75 percent of repeat patients. It speaks of trust and the fact that we are able to live up to the expectations,❞ he added.
Raghunadan Sreenivasan, COO, Medlife.com also took strong support of technology saying, ❝Medlife has a key role in accessibility and affordability of healthcare services across the county with the agenda of ‘Health Comes Home’. We believe technology implementation makes a difference in customer’s experience as it is the key factor in the digital transformation journey that we all are observing in the healthcare space.❞
Keeping hospitality in view, Manu Rishi Guptha, CEO, Niraamaya Retreats said, ❝Hospitality is a very sensitive business. No matter where you’ve reached, your brand is only as strong as your last customers and last experience. In this ever-connected world, it takes only one customer to take the whole brand down.❞
❝Quikr’s approach to customer experience is very innovation driven. In 2015, we transformed from a classifieds platform to go deep in five very high potential and high growth verticals with the key objective of improving customer experience. The power of a diversified platform like ours is that while we attract consumers in one area, they end up using Quikr in multiple adjacent areas as well. This has created cross-selling opportunities for short-term and long-term needs of Quikr consumers, thus enhancing the customer buying experience.❞ concluded Anurag Saran, CPO, Quikr.
India having a huge variety of consumerism, will become the 3rd largest consumer market in the world by 2025. This surge of consumer empowers them with their choices and decisions. No matter if we speak of the old world or the industrial world, all the businesses are defined by economies of scale, outsources, and lots of sources traditional matrix. But increasingly, the way business gets the competitive advantage is by primarily pleasing the consumers— give them what they want and when they want. Businesses have to offer their consumers the optimal experience to make them choose their product instead of their competitors’. Eventually, it is the brand that gets the customer experience right and disrupts the markets.