A customer experience led approach surpasses operational efficiency
Customer experience can not be successfully achieved through operational efficiency – this is a misconception. Perhaps because, when improving operational efficiency, the output to input ratio improves – and many of the output measures (most notably revenue and customer growth) are also indicators of good customer experience.
So, while operational efficiency may be a result of customer experience enhancements, taking a customer experience-led approach can reap substantially more benefits.
What do your customers want?
Organisations that lead with operational efficiency tend to take an inside-out approach. This means they review technology and customer engagement channels and find opportunities to replace analogue with digital, manual processes with automation and humans with artificial intelligence.
But, they can’t expect to achieve their customer experience goals without having gone through the process of understanding whether these changes align with what the customer needs or wants, or that it provides a better customer experience than before – this can’t be assumed.
The same goes for any other initiative that is typically tied to digital transformation efforts like driving customers to apps (or in-app functionality), automating customer processes (RPA) etc. If the process does not start with the customer experience in mind and work backwards, there’s a high risk the experience will be negatively affected.
And even if the operational changes an organisation makes do end up benefiting customers, taking an approach that centres on operational efficiency is limiting. That’s because the ultimate goal of operational efficiency is to save money and there’s only so much money an organisation can save before cost reduction becomes harmful to customer experience.
The limitless rewards of a customer experience-led approach
Contrastingly, there’s no upper limit to potential rewards that come from an outside-in approach that centres on customer experience.
Companies that earn US$1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional US$700 million within three years of investing in customer experience.
86% Of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. Additionally, the more expensive the item, the more they are willing to pay.
But in order to reap those benefits, organisations need to understand the experience their customers want and build inwards from there, based on their goals. A useful consequence of this approach is that operational efficiency can still be achieved and it saves the company investing in technology it might not need. It also reduces the likelihood of the organisation falling into customer experience debt (CX debt).
CX debt refers to the rework required to review customer journeys and touchpoints, and identify fractures that are the result of quick fixes and MVPs implemented, specifically in response to the pandemic. The longer the CX debt remains unresolved, the bigger the problem grows.
Focus on customers’ needs first and benefit in the long run
Of course, it’s understandable why organisations fall into the trap of mistaking operational efficiency for good customer experience. In today’s tough economic climate, businesses are doing everything possible to survive.
To succeed in achieving the desired customer experience, organisations need to shift to a customer-centric mindset. This requires an understanding that focusing on the customer’s needs first, will deliver real rewards in the long run, that go way beyond cost-saving.