Making customer experience a competitive advantage

By Ioannis Melas Partner, UK&I Technology, Media and Telecommunications, EY.

As consumers, we’d probably all agree that the number of companies providing exceptional customer experiences are few and far between. And that they are vastly outnumbered by those where we struggle to find the support needed, get shunted around and are left feeling frustrated.

While companies recognise the need to meet the high benchmark set by today’s consumers (and, therefore, business customers too), actually doing so can be challenging. The mix of products and services is becoming more complex, technology is adding many more customer interaction points, and all of this change is happening faster and faster. So, although many businesses are making marginal improvements, they risk falling further and further behind customer expectations.

New techniques, new opportunities

This may be because conventional approaches are failing to address the scale, complexity and speed of the change needed, all too often providing no more than a skin-deep redesign of a company’s digital channels.

But the shift to digital and the resulting inexorable rise in available data has created a unique opportunity to measure, analyse, and fine tune experiences, often in real time. This gives companies the chance to evolve their customer propositions not through gut feel or “management experience” but through a data-driven, highly-engineered, iterative process that delivers continuous measurable improvement in customer satisfaction and business outcomes.

Taking an integrated approach

 So how do we go about harnessing these new powers to delight customers, drive sales and leave competitors behind? By creating what we call a digitally integrated customer experience (DICE).

It’s integrated in how it is delivered, by cutting across business silos within organisations to focus relentlessly on the customer. It’s also integrated in how it is received by customers, removing friction so that users get what they want instantly and effortlessly.

While the outcome is greater simplicity, getting there can be a carefully orchestrated process that harnesses different disciplines – from user research and business model design to analytics, rapid prototyping and technology architecture. Yet even these tools will not be enough without the right culture and mindset; one that is committed to continuous improvement and innovation.

That’s why we have designed and implemented a process that takes organisations from start to finish; all the way from immersive workshops that free up thinking to detailed planning and connection to an ecosystem of cutting edge developers to speed up implementation.

The key trends

We believe four key trends are reshaping industries and driving the next wave of thinking about customer experience, increasing the need for companies to transform customer experience. We’ll be focussing on each of these in a series of upcoming blogs.

From bundle to platform: as customers’ expectations increase they will select their own mix of products and services, not the ones you choose for them. And they will consume them where it is easiest to do so.

 From conversion to engagement: customer engagement doesn’t stop at the point of sale – it needs to be continuous and interactive and maximise mutual value through the life of the relationship.

 From self-serve to omni-solve: don’t use digital as a byword for contact deflection. Understand what constitutes resolution from the customer’s perspective and provide it where the customer expects.

From persona to person: Segments and personas are good strategy and design tools but too blunt to use at the point of delivering customer experiences. Businesses need to move from addressing customer segments to understanding personal preferences and interacting accordingly.

Finally, a word on sectors.

DICE has been developed through our work with Technology, Media and Telecom clients, where customer expectations are increasingly being driven by the real-time engagement and interaction that consumers enjoy in areas such as social media. But sector lines are blurring, for example some cars are now running on more ‘code’ than software products and some banks are employing more developers than tech firms. And consumers are not making the distinction either, with research showing that 87% of customers measure all brands against a select few who offer easy, digital and personal experiences.

So, whatever your industry, customer experience already plays a crucial role in your future – and now is the time to turn that into a competitive advantage.

Further information

Click here  to sign up to our blog series where we will look at each of the four key trends in more detail.

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Ioannis Melas  Partner, UK&I TMT,