Customer Experience (Cx) as a concept is age old. Among Peter Drucker’s famous quotes, one of my favorites is “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer”. Companies the world over have accepted this simple truth. Some have embraced Cx concepts of Customer centricity, Customer Obsession, Customer Delight and Customer Happiness while others have paid merely lip service to the same.
Just a couple of decades ago, customers had limited means of voicing their opinions and influencing the buying decisions. The web provided customers with a channel for doing so – however the impact was still limited to the web universe. The impact of neglecting the customer experience did not appear to be acute enough to move Cx initiatives beyond the “Good to have” category of business priorities.
The last few years however represent the “Digital Age” or the age of the consumer. Mobile devices, Social Media and Cloud based services have combined to result in an explosion of consumer generated content. A large portion of such consumer generated content is about the experience people have had with a brand and it’s products/services.
I remember a frustrating experience with a travel service provider in India and posting my experience on my social media handles. Within a few minutes, I got a couple of updates from people in my network that based on my post, they had re-considered doing business with that provider. While that was not my intention, it was clear that the business impact of my poor experience to the provider was much more than just losing my business.
Digital not only makes it easy to generate content, but also makes it extremely easy to amplify it: for example, enables the content to go viral by making it extremely easy to share. Other consumers use such content to base their buying decisions, resulting in a direct business impact (Positive or Negative). Social Media and the Digital World is increasingly becoming a reputation management game. Companies who have realized this have moved rapidly to set up Social Media teams (or have outsourced this to agencies) who monitor brand mentions and rapidly address issues that can impact reputation.
With the Digital Age, companies who deliver a great customer experience can look to achieve the holy grail of marketing – which is, have customers advocate your products and services. On the other hand, companies who don’t bother about their customers’ experience stand to lose not just those customers, but also several others and their reputation as well. In the Digital Age, Customer Experience needs to become one of the top three business priorities and no longer just a “Good to have”.
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