The recent Flipkart episode put customer experience (CX) management in the limelight. Delivering a superior experience to customers is the most powerful differentiator that a business can deploy. India has experienced an outstanding growth in its economy and living standards of people in recent years. This has led to an upsurge in expectations of consumers, forcing companies to set new benchmarks and become competent enough to cater to them.
Customer service is an unsexy topic: it involves human intervention, is a thankless job and usually has little revenue generation potential. You get very little recognition even when the job is well done. There’s little innovative thought going into it and any market practice that is adored (like Apple, AmEx, Zappos or Amazon) is quickly dismissed because of different unit economics and dynamics.
A lot of people think that public naming and shaming on social media has solved the problem of bad customer experience. But it is not true on the ground. A repeated brand behaviour is to ask the customer to “DM us your phone number” and then nothing really concrete happens – complaint management, root cause analysis, communication improvement, technology innovation are all very perfunctory or ad hoc.
Having said that, we have come across lot of forward thinking marketing & customer experience professionals who believe in improving customer experience and are doing some great work for their brands to improve the customer service levels.
Three things became very obvious from our repeated interactions with brands:
- brands needed to think way ahead (almost like internet startups) to keep up with the customer
- brands need to look outside their sectors and pick up best practices across the board
- CIOs, customer service and marketing functions need to speak a lot more with each other
In many meetings with marketers, we saw a sense of helplessness in actually impacting word-of-mouth and increasing brand equity by truly creating a better customer experience. On the other hand, customer experience professionals were usually never explained the context in detail and the KPI hardly aligned to suit the new reality. To compound the problem, CEOs don’t get too involved because online forms a small chunk of the overall context (this is changing faster than brands realize. Two years ago when the comedy videos channel The Viral Fever launched, no one would have believed that Shah Rukh Khan would come and promote his films on their show.)
This observation was supported by GigaOm Research Report in 2013 which surveyed top executives for the coming disruption in customer experience and social media management.
The idea behind Quest 2014
Quest as an industry body for Customer Experience Management would focus on what’s coming from a consumer perspective, what can brands learn from different sectors and how to handle the overlap of marketing and customer service.
Points to Ponder:
- Integrating social media with internal CRM – discussing the possibilities and how different brands have done this.
- Leveraging retail touch points for a better customer experience
- Creating an MNC level of customer experience for the Indian consumer
- Incentivising marketing and customer service executives to think holistically
- Pre-empting customer issues – Improving customer experience through timely content
Here are some questions that need to be debated in the Quest 2014:
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