Customer Experience and Technology: Push or Pull?

|June 13, 2016 0
What’s a good formula when it comes to empowering the many drivers of customer experience?

Varun Goswami

INDIA: It’s a universally endorsed concept that customer is a key business stakeholder, focused around whom the business model operates. The cumulative layers of communication involving the customer directly or indirectly across various stages of interaction with business form an impression and/or sentiment in the customer’s mind, called the customer experience. It’s beyond doubt that as customer experience matures, the strategic business value the customer holds becomes higher.

The question that then arises is – what is the ‘right’ customer experience? Not easy to answer at all, what is sure is that the right customer experience varies from situation to situation, depending upon the following:

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• Urgency and uniqueness of customer requirement,
• Maturity of relationship with customer,
• Processing and delivery vis-a-vis the timelines,
• Service precision and accuracy vis-a-vis the standards,
• Robustness of customer support systems (Technology),
• Process transparency and visibility, and

The interesting part here is – customer experience seems to depend upon all of these drivers. That’s exactly the ‘push’ approach to business, where the focus is on what the business wants and how the business looks at the customer. There is another approach however, where you begin with the customer himself and let him drive the business, the system and virtually everything else. That is the ‘pull’ approach to business, where the focus is on what the customer wants and how the customer looks at the business.

Coming to technology as a factor affecting customer experience, it aids the business in myriad manners. Be it the product, platform, service, solution, process, things, systems or people, technology helps establish a superior connect with the customer. In the context of IT and software products, technology could hugely enhance customer experience. It could streamline and automate your processes end-to-end. It could elevate your processes to a higher maturity level and reduce the component of unpredictability.

It could also set up a digital information management system for your enterprise to collaborate internally and externally. It could well help you manage your content and information life-cycle in an end-to-end manner. It could also help you send automated and structured responses to your customers based on their relationship with you and their habits and preferences of product usage.

The next question is, since the above ideas are dots floating freely in the air, how do we really connect all of these to form a picture of the business and its customers? That’s where a superior customer experience acts as the driving force to establish the right technology framework. The way you or your customer defines customer experience, also defines how you as a business need to align your technology framework.

In a typical customer relationship management cycle, you qualify your customer, a relationship is built between you and the customer and it moves towards higher levels of maturity. In the stages of maturity below we observe how a pull-approach based customer experience drives a more meticulous, customer-driven and aligned use of technology:

• Initiation: The customer articulates his need and finds something interesting on your website. He is a prospect. Technology plays a minimal role.
• Attraction: The communication here is indirect and subtle as your business attempts to gauge the customer requirement. He is a business lead. Technology aids in the gauging through an analysis of data (BAM), content and the customer sentiment.
• Alignment: The business contacts the customer, listens to the requirement and shares proposal. He is a potential customer. Enterprise Collaboration and Information Exchange enable the business to gather relevant information from him in a structured manner.
• Conversion: Once an agreement is reached, the product/service is shared. He becomes the customer. Process Automation and Control allow the business to focus on delivery rather than the process per se.
• Nurturing: This is the beginning of a relationship between the customer and the business. Content and Data Analysis along with a direct communication (or via CCM) helps the business to know more about the pain areas of customer.
• Engagement: As the customer data moves into the content repository, it is used for contextual customer engagement in subsequent mutual conversations. Technology takes on the role of full-fledged Case Management, ECM and BPM.
• Partnership: This is the highest level of customer-ship where the customer values the relationship and you partner with your customer to develop a long-term association of mutual benefit.

Technology is shared and innovation into developing newer methods of business growth is pursued.

As can be seen in the sequence of maturity levels above, the customer experience grows along with the framework of technology. To conclude, customer experience is the focal area around which the elements of technology must be aligned to elevate the customer.

(Varun Goswami is AVP – Product Management at Newgen Software. Views expressed here are of the author and CyberMedia does not necessarily endorse them.)

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