IN INDIA, CUSTOMER SERVICE MUST BE A SEAMLESS PROCESS
Customer service should be viewed as a series of connected steps - detection, preparation, transaction, measurement, understanding and improvement; instead of holding segments of the organization responsible for each, a customer-focused team should be formed
A few weeks back, I bought an air ticket through an aggregator app, which runs a campaign about how they pro-actively shift passengers from one airline to another in case of delay. On realizing that my fight was delayed by four hours, I called them to get a ‘solution’ – it turned out that I could either wait or buy a new ticket at 70% premium. I had no choice but to buy a new one.
What followed was even more surprising - a hefty cancellation fee. My mail requesting them for a waiver received an auto response that their e-mail customer support is discontinued, I could call or chat. The chat bot took me around in circles thrice to start all over again. Finally, in frustration, I gave up; the efforts and my patronage. And till today, no human in that company ever bothered to look at the traces, all disjointed though, and reach out.
As the channels moved from single to multi to cross to omni, the platforms built to handle the immediate need never took into account the dynamism in the customer mobility and therefore business owners have no way to understand the frictions. Contrary to the above, I bought an electronic item from a global e-commerce company. It wasn’t up to my satisfaction. I sought the chat option for a solution. Within seconds, the chat bot handed charge to a human, seamlessly. The person empowered and presumably having a ‘single view’ of the customer, offered to take it back and send me the refund as a special case, although they offer only replacement of electronics.
As Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
THE TRUTH Companies have even blindfolded themselves as ‘data-driven organizations’ and built various silos, layers of visualization and analytical tools, to the extent that they are willing to drive into no man’s land because their GPS doesn’t say anything about a detour!
Reports on what to watch out for put customer-centricity ahead of every other trend. A recent KPMG study presented six pillars of importance in India’s customer experience excellence and its impact on loyalty and advocacy, the pillars being personalization, integrity, time of effort, resolution, expectations and empathy.
While many Indian companies do not have any focus on customer experience, it is also a proven fact that expectation and experience coming face to face produces economic value:
• A moderate increase in customer experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues - Temkin Group
• 63% of shoppers feel like offline retailers don’t know them. Customers are accustomed to online shopping sites remembering their persona and offering relevant recommendations. – Sales Force
• 86% of retail shoppers will pay more for experiences (online + offline) but only 1% are equipped with systems and processes to deliver the same based on customer expectations. – Oracle Jack Ma had once used an interesting theory, 30-30-30; build organizations for 30 years, focus on people who are 30 and below and keep other companies with 30 or lesser employees on the radar. But in today’s short-sighted business environment, where leaders are not looking at horizons beyond three years, businesses are going through a mad rush to acquire customers by ‘seducing’ them through ‘campaigns’. And everyone takes the credit for the touch point which drove sales; search for a trending key word, social for the topical post, influencer marketing for a celeb retweeting, mobile for the pop-up, but no one knows what the eventual customer experience was.
HOW TO FORGE A SMART CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE STRATEGY Transformative leaders in India do have the opportunity to reinvent their organizations. Here is a simple six-step process to begin the journey.
1. Build a transformation team (define the purpose, example, cutting the layers internally and externally) not based on seniority, but with people who are non-conformists, dissenters and rebels. Identify such talents and develop them along with the other conformist stars, intentionally.
2. Find external partners who are mavericks and involved in making a difference at their own terms. Apply Jack Ma’s philosophy to look for such organizations, beginning to be spoken about with less than 30 people.
3. Create a 70:20:10 model. On 70%, the team is tasked to make just one intervention which is different compared to what has traditionally been practised, two interventions on the 20% and use just 10% of the resources to support 70 and 20 as well as build absolutely new realm of possibilities, whether it is on building a single view of consumers/personalization/clean first party data/ reducing frictions/similar online-offline experiences/last mile discovery/engaged communities/empowering and celebrating employees as well as consumers.
4. Embrace speed and the ability to embark on multiple ideas and concepts recognizing some may even fail, so long as it is based on aim high and fail fast philosophy.
5. Create very clear accountabilities and celebrate the success of this team.
6. In order to mitigate the legacy best practices thinking, adopt a balanced approach of 50:50 Look Around. Understand. Do: Look Around. Do. Understand.