Those who fail to improve customer experience may perish

by Sohini Bagchi    May 21, 2013

customer experience

In an era, where customer is regarded as the ‘king’, brands are realizing the importance of offering a unique customer experience in order to stand out in the marketplace. However, experts believe that those that fail to offer new and enhanced experience to customers may not be able to gain competitive advantage in the coming months.

The importance of customer experience will continue to grow mainly due to the emergence of digitization such as mobile, Web and social technologies. The focus on the customer is increasingly becoming important for business leaders, according to Jim Davies, research director at Gartner. “Those enterprises using technology to strengthen customer experience are observed to have delivered better growth and operational efficiency over the past 1-2 years and all these companies have a strong customer experience strategy,” he says.

Unique customer experience

“In the past, how you packaged your product or service was of paramount importance, along with the messaging around it. These elements are still critical, but in addition, you need to offer the customer or consumer a unique experience,” says VS Pradeep, MD of Cholayil. The Chennai based manufacturer of toiletries and health care products is betting big on customer experience and believes that this ‘experience’ comes only through greater customer ‘engagement’ which is only possible with the help of emerging technologies. “In the next few months, we are leveraging mobile applications as well as social media to offer unique experience to our customers.

Another brand, Woodland Shoes, is bullish on enhancing customer engagement in the next one year. Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland Shoes in India opines that mobile technologies have the capability to provide unique customer experience. He explains that Woodland has built a mobile application that can be accessed by the users through mobile phones and tablets and where customers can get all the updates about the company, products, offers and announcements on their mobile device. He also believes social media forums and chats can offer unique and personalized experiences to consumers. However, to take your customer experience to the next level, it is important to have written customer experience strategy that should align with your company’s brand attributes.

Not only companies like Cholayil and Woodland Shoes, Indian brands in general are quite upbeat on creating an improved customer experience, although many of them do not have a strategy. A recent Oracle report for example predicts that businesses in India can lose up to 18 per cent revenues from the lack of adequate customer experience strategy. 

Woodland has built a mobile application that can be accessed by the users through mobile phones and tablets in which customers can get all the updates about the company, products, offers and announcements on their mobile device.
-Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland Shoes

Lack of robust strategy

Although there is a growing awareness on the importance of customer experience with 72 per cent of Indian enterprises believe that customers are willing to pay more for great customer experiences, and 49 per cent indicated that customers will switch brands due to a poor customer experience, experts believe.

“Indian businesses are still weighing the importance of customer experience with only 29 per cent are just getting started with a formal customer experience initiative. Nearly half of the businesses are still assessing customer experience implementation,” says Atul Tuli, Sales Director, Fusion CRM, Oracle ASEAN. He states that social media has been regarded as the most important tool to deliver a great customer experience. Unfortunately, seven out of 10 businesses in India that are geared up to offer unique customer experience either do not use social media as sales channel or for customer service.

Outdated technology, siloed systems, challenges in performance tracking and lack of customer feedback are often cited as reasons for poor customer experience. However, the positive sign is that Indian enterprises will increase spend on customer experience technology by 20 per cent in the next two years, especially in areas such as loyalty management, self-service capabilities on websites, analytic tools to gain an integrated customer view across all channels and to better understand customer behavior, says the Oracle report.

Over the next 12 months, most Indian enterprises will emphasize on the online customer purchase experience by offering customer experience program. The other areas of focus would be to improve the cross-channel customer experience and improve mobile customer experience as well.

Tuli believes that for businesses to succeed in offering unique customer experience, they must drive towards a 360 degree view of customer interactions; invest in open and integrated technology and leverage analytics to drive decision making and personalised customer communication.