By Joy Abdullah
Stuck in the usual morning rush hour traffic a realisation struck me. As I looked out I saw fellow drivers busy on their mobile phones—listening to podcasts or updating a social media post or checking route maps—and realised how technology and free flowing media has changed the times.
Traffic moves at a crawl but information moves at lightning speed courtesy the technology of social media. This realisation brought home the fact that customer experience is the most critical differentiating attribute for a brand. No wonder then that 86% of business leaders agree that customer experience is vital for business success.
Customer experience, in Malaysia, is no different from the rest of the world. Malaysian consumers are digitally empowered—with 19 million Facebook users out of 24.55 million internet users and time-starved. Time is the real cost for all customers. Time, in the form of attention, is what the customer uses in doing a simple cost-benefit analysis when evaluating an interaction with a brand.
In view of this the importance of customer experience increases significantly as it has a direct correlation to business sustainability. Customer attention either makes or breaks the relationship for a brand and in turn its ability to be viable.
Getting to create the right stimulus to obtain attention comes from a brands’ customer experience strategy which is an integral and core part of its marketing strategy. Strategy wise the brand has to continuously ask itself—at every encounter am I saving the customers’ attention or seizing it?- The answer to this will change with every touch-point over the customer journey but the challenge of either saving the customers’ attention or seizing it will remain constant. Failing to do will result in direct loss of customer and an unsustainable brand in the long run.
Developing a dynamic customer experience.
The typical approach to planning customer experience is to undertake customer surveys and buying purchase cycle mapping and empathetic advertising. Whilst this is required as a starting point it will not provide the required edge or uniqueness in creating experiences that are dynamic yet planned.
To truly develop dynamic experiences start watching businesses, not just within the industry but across industries and seek out the best-in-class products, services, marketing, business models to identify learnings from the innovations in play for specific customer experience that your brand can provide.
Finding out and understanding how cross-industry best practices work and seeking to utilise the same innovatively for your brand brings about sustainability. From a marketing professional perspective this is a lot more than the standard marketing practices in use. This is part business intelligence; part strategic planning and part consumer insights that requires specific skills covering the fields of psychology, data analytics, trend-spotting and critical thinking to name a few. These have an organisational impact with regards to team composition from a talent and competency perspective.
Assuming such skills are available in developing an innovative customer experience a fundamental question, about the brand, has to be answered with clarity and honesty—
are you functional or delightful?
An answer to this is critical in today’s scenario where digital business models deliver everything on-demand; IoT and AI are providing brands more data on customers’ likes and preferences; and a plethora of purpose-driven brands are increasingly delivering on the self-actualization requirements of the customer. The answer will determine which side of the question is your brand on and thus be the framework for developing the required experience.