“Bain & Company’s first comprehensive survey and analysis of customer experience tools and trends finds the key to success is focusing on a few tools rather than dabbling with many”
A deep focus on enhancing the customer experience has taken root in many emerging markets – most notably Asia Pacific, which is well ahead of its more developed market counterparts in Europe and North America in terms of adoption of customer experience tools. Specifically, predictive analytics, sensors in products, and personalized experience have become the most widely used across both B2C and B2B markets. These are the key findings from Bain & Company’s first comprehensive survey and analysis of customer experience tools and trends.
Bain & Company surveyed executives at 700 companies worldwide on 20 tools used to enhance the customer experience in four categories: sensing, deciding, acting and managing. The survey also identified the leaders in financial performance, as measured by having 10 percent or higher revenue growth over the past five years and high satisfaction with financial results, to see how their responses differed from the average and from the laggards.
Broadly speaking, emerging market companies, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, lead the way in customer experience tool adoption, followed by Latin America, Europe, and finally, North America. Companies in emerging markets tend to be unencumbered by legacy IT systems or organizational issues, making it easier for them to experiment with innovative tools and adopt the latest promising technology from scratch. In addition, data privacy is a less volatile issue in many of these markets.
“With customer expectations increasingly exponentially, the new basis of competition is how reliably you can deliver delightful customer experiences. This has generated intense innovation and experimentation to find ways to effectively use new and existing customer experience tools,” said Gerard du Toit, global head of Bain & Company’s Customer Experience capabilities. “Yet, many companies in developed markets are hampered by rigid technology. To survive in this environment, organizations must deploy a flexible, more modular architecture that can integrate different data sources in real time to assemble a single view of the customer and manage their end-to-end experience in a personalized manner across channels.”
Among the 20 tools assessed in the survey, the most widely used across most industries in both consumer and business-to-business markets are predictive analytics, followed by sensors in products and operations, and personalized experience, powered by AI and advanced analytics.
Yet, these and some of the other most-used tools rank at the lowest level of satisfaction among survey respondents. This is because as tools become established, users expect more of them. The longer a tool is in place, the more a company relies on it to deliver better results – but eventually users will run up against the tool’s limitations. In addition, competitors are using the same tools, so the tools lose their distinctiveness.
Conversely, tools with the lowest adoption currently have high satisfaction rates: delivery drones, episode management and privacy management. Early adopters typically are the most excited by new technology because they have spotted a way to benefit and sometimes, they hope, to create a competitive advantage.
“Our research reveals a strong correlation between the amount of effort a company puts into adopting the tool and their satisfaction with it,” said Andreas Dullweber, who leads Bain & Company's Customer Strategy & Marketing practice in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “There is clear evidence that the best outcomes result from a major effort and investment in a handful of tools, not from dabbling in a broad range of tools.”
Leading firms get the most out of their tools by following a few principles:
Clarify the business goals
Senior executives must agree on what type of experience they want to deliver in the future that meets the needs of the target customer segments better than competitors do. A clear vision sets the stage for the strategy and investment priorities – which aspects of the experience need to improve, and which aspects can become a means of truly delighting customers.
Choose the best handful of tools for the job
In most cases, a few capabilities will be critical to support the chosen experience. A tool will only improve results to the extent that it helps to fulfill customer’s needs and, ideally, develops an experience that distinguishes a company from the rest of the pack. These are the tools to double down on through outsize investment and resources.
Adapt to competitive shifts
While focusing investment on the few tools that help create or sustain a distinctive value proposition, companies will still need to keep abreast of developments in the broad range of tools. Tool experts and senior managers will want to anticipate which new tools may move from the periphery to the heart of an experience, based on their ability to more effectively meet their business goals.
“Companies that reap the greatest benefits from a tool weave it into their operations and ways of working, rather than bolting it on as a separate project or through a separate team, said Richard Hatherall, head of Bain & Company’s Customer Strategy & Marketing practice in Asia-Pacific. “Embedding it is the only way to change behavior in the organization.”
Credits: This article is published here with the kind permission of Bain & Company
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