Customer experience is dead

The importance of meaningful connections and engaging experiences that delight customers, is the heart of service-delivery and brand connection. Essentially, it is the experience which resonates the most and which leaves the biggest impact on customers.

This, then, accentuates even more on the importance of creating moments that matter for your customers, which in turn increases the complexity of delivering and maintaining meaningful relationships with customers. Retaining the same expected level of service and engagement, we know, comes down to the quality and consistency of the different touchpoints that make up the entire customer journey. Each touchpoint needs to have the same impact to make for exceptional engagement.

The human experience

Experience is at the heart of the human condition – it’s how we learn, how we live, and how we define value. It drives us.’

It sounds so obvious, yet somewhere amidst the myriad of changing business models, commercial rhetoric, and fast-paced technology, the customer became just another term – faceless, nameless and less-human.  

With its emphasis on human experience, Deloitte has elevated the ‘customer’ notion to the ‘human’ element. As humans, the value perceived through emotional engagements, defines and respects our individuality. The human element, as defined by Deloitte, also encompasses the employees, whose emotions determine the level and quality of service they extend to customers.

As humans then we are complex beings, and this undoubtedly influences how we perceive and behave at any given time. Deloitte maintains that humans retain more from an experience than from things. The human experience ‘imbues the world with meaning, embeds memories, transforms perceptions, and ultimately drives behaviours.’

One of the critical aspects of delivering great experiences is knowing what customers expect and when they expect it. Data then becomes the critical factor in the equation. However, the crux with data is that it needs to be understood and utilised correctly. It should be dimensioned along what is acceptable in terms what can and cannot be used and shared – this impinges on trust which is crucial.

Continuously capturing, understanding and structuring customer data can only be done through platforms operating within an eco-system, which sees the customer at its centre. So ecosystem strategies will determine the winners from the losers in the long run. Platforms and technology are enablers and no longer linear touchpoint management systems, but rather cohesive, emotionally intelligent technology ecosystems that leverage both operational and contextual data to adapt to the moment at hand. The new paradigm has to be more dynamic, responsive and contextually driven for customer connection and human experience.

Emotional triggers

Even more interesting is how customers, as human beings, leave emotional footprints throughout their journeys with companies and brand interactions. How do you ‘read’ through the emotional data? Again technology here is the enabler, however the focus should always remain on the ‘human’ and on the business value these bring. Looking inward then, the notion is that human experiences for employees – will be elevated by how service is performed, and service will be ‘inextricably linked to loyalty and business value like never before.’

Deloitte’s study on the impact and role of emotions in customer engagement, provides remarkable insight. In synthesis this study depicts the relationship as a dynamic living state, which evolves with time and is affected by different emotional triggers. Interesting to note that Deloitte finds that 60% of brand-loyal consumers use the same type of emotional language they’d use with loved ones – words like love, happy and adore. Shared values also come into play as a basis to build loyalty, however with no considerable ability to increase loyalty and promote brands if not accompanied by emotional connection.


The future of service

Reiterated time and time again, great experiences build strong connections, which in turn generate loyalty. The concept of experience-building therefore puts larger demands on the service-delivery aspect. It means that customers have a growing expectation for heightened levels of services, be it on-line, face-to-face or via contact centres. The ability to serve therefore becomes a major differentiator and when done correctly, and has the ability to transform service-delivery into a profit centre.

In a recent paper, Deloitte identifies some disruptive forces that are changing how service is delivered, and has in turn translated them into five major themes which shape the realities of service-delivery. Amongst these, is the demand for personalised and real-time outcomes which is synonymous with the individuality traits in humans. This necessitates the proliferation of data and advanced analytic capabilities which enhance companies’ understanding of their employees and customers. This understanding then needs to be integrated across all touchpoints to ensure seamless interaction.

Deloitte cite also that service professionals need new skills assisted by new technologies to deliver outstanding service, especially in light of the fact ‘service delivery will become more interconnected and operate as part of ecosystem strategies. Here we see how the benchmark is higher for talent and the skillsets required to serve. Technology, business and customer engagement savviness are the new essential skills required as part of the value orchestration in service-delivery.

At the end of it, and probably ironically, no matter how dependent we become on technology and AI, it is actually these that allow for greater engagement, deeper insights and allow us to show a ‘greater humanity’ at scale.

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