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Today I’m pleased to share a guest post by Stamos Kanellakis.

In the late 20th century, marketers began to make products and services available through digital channels. Today, product portfolios have morphed into feature-rich apps. Customer expectations, swayed by the latest digital innovations, have put stress on traditional models and have prompted companies to transform their businesses to deliver better customer experiences. Complications arise when businesses try to understand what constitutes a better customer experience. At CohnReznick, we have identified five “universal” attributes to answer that question:

  • Identity: Today’s customers are more diverse, more connected, and more powerful than ever before, making identification and micro-segmentation absolutely necessary
  • Consistency: Most customer interactions happen during a multi-event, multi-channel journey. As customers switch channels, they expect to receive the same level of quality
  • Responsiveness: The majority of U.S. online adults say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with a good experience and retain them
  • Convenience: Companies that help consumers simplify the purchase journey have customers who are more likely to purchase their products and more likely to recommend their brand to others.
  • Personalization: Consumers are acknowledging that businesses can influence shopping behaviors by delivering relevant messaging and making shopping experiences more personal

When customer interactions (or “touchpoints”) are identity-driven, digitally enabled, rapidly drive outcomes, require low levels of effort, and utilize a broad spectrum of known information, customers not only receive better experiences but businesses are also able to provide such experiences at lower cost. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

1. Identify and Understand Customers
Identity-driven touchpoints are designed to understand who the prospect or customer is. Data points include demographics, psychographics, behavioral attributes, and value-based. Dafiti Brazil is the largest e-commerce for fashion and lifestyle in Latin America. Dafiti introduced social login, which simplifies the process of creating an account because customers no longer need to remember an extra login/password, and it also helps to automatically fill out registration forms. When customers use the social login, they grant Dafiti permission to capture their social profile to be used for personalized messages, product recommendations, and a personalized website, all of which increase engagement and conversion rates.

2. Deliver Convenience Digitally
Digitally-enabled customer touchpoints include mobile web, mobile apps, text messaging, live chat, online customer communities, live videoconferencing, and self-service portals. These digital channels address the customer need for convenience. BBVA Compass is one of the leading banking institutions in Latin America. The bank’s recently-released mobile app features broad capabilities and an interface that anticipates customers’ needs. If a customer checks transactions, for instance, it prompts him or her to make a transfer, deposit a check, or set an account alert without forcing the user to visit the main menu. If a customer needs to pay a bill, he or she simply types in the business name, and the app fills in the address, and then makes a payment when the user says “go.” The mobile deposit feature automatically takes a photo of the customer’s check as soon as it registers a clear image.

3. Accelerate Outcomes
The speed of doing business has been accelerating, and today’s consumers are expecting companies to rapidly drive outcomes. Intelligent customer touchpoints do just that. Akamai is the leading content delivery network services provider. The company’s recently-introduced online community gives customers, partners, and guests access to a wide variety of content, news, and events, as well as training materials. Members collaborate with each other via discussions, Q&A, documents, ideation, and polls. In addition to public groups, the community hosts private account groups where customers and partners collaborate securely and directly with their account teams. Improved self-service helps customers get answers and information quickly, leading to stronger relationships and improved customer satisfaction.

4. Reduce Effort
Customer Level of Effort (LoE) refers to the combination of the required skill and time put forth by customers to complete required activities. Think about the basic task of accessing detailed product information while shopping in a store. Shoppers have to verify the product’s manufacturer and model or type, then conduct searches online, a process that often takes time and effort to complete. To address this frustration, BestBuy introduced technology that enables shoppers to scan a product’s RFID and instantly access detailed product information as they navigate the store. In case shoppers need even more information, they can easily get expert service right in the palm of their hands with the simple touch of a button or shake of the phone. Requests are prioritized to receive a response within seconds. This intelligent customer touchpoint results in significant cost-to-serve savings while reducing customers’ LoE.

5. Leverage Information to Deliver Personalization
Not long ago, businesses’ access to customer information was limited to transactional data. Today, consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant. Macy’s gives online shoppers a tool to obtain feedback from friends on products that they are considering purchasing, using a polling widget on their site. Once the poll is created, the shopper shares it directly to his or her Facebook timeline for friends to see, along with a message asking for their opinion, and vote, for the product. 48 hours later, the shopper has input. Macy’s has earned impressions from the shoppers’ friends by tapping into their social graph. Macy’s can then utilize fresh information to personalize the shopping experience and improve the accuracy and relevancy of marketing campaigns.

According to a recent Gartner survey research report, by the end of 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, up from just 36% four years ago. Customer experiences are no longer just about usability and ease-of-use but also about connecting, inspiring, and engaging with customers. Deploying “intelligent” customer touchpoints is the only way to stay competitive.

Read the full CohnReznick whitepaper here.

Stamos Kanellakis helps businesses deliver relevant, sustainable and competitive
customer experiences. He currently serves as the Senior Manager for CohnReznick’s Digital and Innovation Services practice.