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Digital Cream Singapore: The Future of Customer Experience

CX, or the practice of reorganizing a company around the customer, has been a popular topic among marketers for 10 years now. In that time, many brands have moved website development, delivery and service fulfilment and customer service into one, cohesive CX department. But are companies with active CX programmes benefitting from the change? Have they been able to improve how their businesses work from the customer's perspective? To find out, ClickAcademy, in association with Amazon Web Services, recently held roundtable discussions with dozens of client-side marketers on the topic at the annual Singapore Digital Cream. At the table entitled The Future of Customer Experience moderator Elizabeth Taylor, Senior Trainer, ClickAcademy asked attendees about their views on the progress of CX and where they thought it was headed. Below is a summary of the day's discussions. 1) What is CX?

The roundtable started out by defining what exactly is meant by the term 'CX'. Was it just something to add to job titles - or does CX truly represent a new way of working which helps companies get closer to their customers? Participants decided that it was the latter and that thinking in terms of CX helps companies realign their people, processes and technology around the customer. Practitioners acknowledged, though, that CX was not a single programme but that a customer's overall experience had several different contributing factors. First off, a company's product or services affects how a customer views their experience with a company. While this is important, marketers, admittedly, have limited influence in this area. What marketers can influence, however, are the social and emotional impacts a company has on its customers. Here marketers play a much more significant role and should, therefore, invest time and resources in improving how customers feel about their company. Listening to customers, engaging with them online and responding quickly to complaints were all ways that marketers could help improve a brand's overall CX.

2) Customer centricity Another way in which marketers can influence CX is to help move the company toward becoming a customer-centric organisation. Companies are still very much organised in departmental silos, but to put the customer at the centre of the organisation, each department needs to be encouraged to improve the overall experience. This may be difficult for B2B marketers as they typically only have a say in a small a part of the customer journey, but efforts still should be made to move other departments to take a customer-centric view. One way marketers can get started in this area is to investigate t incidents where customers have had a bad experience and set up a 'service recovery' task force. Participants agreed that being able to get a unhappy customer back was a good way to get the whole organisation to work together toward a customer-centric, and very worthwhile, goal. 3) Data requirements for CX Attendees agreed that in order to improve CX, marketers need to know what the customer wants. Access to data and data analytics plays a critical role in achieving this. Marketers now have more data than ever, but so far this access has not helped improve CX to any great extent. The reason for this is that marketing data is mostly about who customers are and what they did on the website or app, not about what they really want. To learn more about customers' interest and needs further analysis is required. Unfortunately, most companies do not currently have the capabilities to draw the necessary insights from behavioural data. Outsourcing data analytics was one suggestion, but others said that a better solution was for marketers to change their attitude toward customer data. They should seek to become 'data explorers' and learn to gather insights about customer desires themselves.

4) Personalisation Personalisation is a difficult issue for those seeking to improve CX. On one hand, customers appreciate anything which makes their purchasing journey easier but, on the other, feel uneasy if personalisation becomes too intimate. Marketers, therefore, have a difficult question to answer - how much personalisation is too much? Attendees found it difficult to decide on an exact answer but one guiding principle was suggested. If the level of personalisation was increasing conversions then it was almost certainly worthwhile. If, however, the personalisation was not improving performance metrics or even harming them, then personalisation was overcomplicating the customer experience and should be dialled back.

5) Moving on from CX fundamentals, toward CX amplification Most attendees felt that they grasped the basics of CX and their organisations were moving in the right direction. So, what next? How can marketers go to the next level and 'amplify' CX in their organisation? One way to move ahead with CX was to align its principles with other company-wide initiatives such as agile working and digital transformation. Doing so would ensure that CX would continue to be part of the change management process and CX would then be part of any new programme in the company. The end goal of amplifying CX is to change the value system within the company culture so that everything people did was geared toward improving CX, continuously. This would require that everyone in the company understood CX and was held accountable for implementing it. This level of CX is still a long way off for most organisations but it was agreed that heading in that direction was a good goal for customer experience's second decade! A word of thanks ClickAcademy would like to thank Elizabeth Taylor, Senior Trainer, ClickAcademy Asia for moderating The Future of Customer Experience roundtable discussions and Simon Burke, Cognitive CX Partner Segment Lead, ASEAN, AWS for acting as the subject matter expert on the day. We'd also like to thank all the marketers who took time out of their busy schedule to attend Digital Cream and share their views about the future of customer experience. We hope to see you all at future ClickAcademy events!

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