Customers have always sought speed, convenience and responsiveness from their service providers. But with the full-blown stampede to online interactions, businesses are under unprecedented pressure to deliver seamless, high-quality digital experiences. The gulf between companies that have prioritized the development of digital channels and those struggling to adjust will only widen, while customer expectations will continue to evolve. This puts enterprises in a race that requires customer experience, and the processes and infrastructure that support it, to be reimagined.
Top enterprise modernization priorities
i. Empathy as the new currency
Research suggests when engaging a business, customers want it all - quick answers, enjoyable interactions and highly personalized service. What this all boils down to is a sense of empathy: that the business is genuinely orienting itself around the customer’s needs and regards them as more than just another number. This can be a difficult state for organizations to achieve and communicate, but when achieved translates directly into positive purchasing decisions and lays a foundation for long-term loyalty.
“It’s a well-known fact that buying decisions are driven by emotions. So, the more you can build a basis of empathy and emotionally connect with your customers and what they’re wrestling with, the more successful you can be.”
Chief Digital Officer, North America, Thoughtworks
ii. Developing a customer experience platform
Customer success in the digital realm is reliant on getting experiences right consistently, not just once - which in turn depends on developing robust capabilities that can be deployed and built on to serve various business channels and purposes. An effective customer experience platform equips the enterprise with a standard toolkit that can be drawn on to meet changing customer demands or support new ideas for products or services. Not needing to constantly return to the drawing board frees the business up to experiment and accelerates the way it operates, while contributing to a more consistent customer experience overall.
Customer engagement platform diagram with illustrations of three main layers
iii. Customer-centric design
A solid customer experience platform starts with making the customer the focal point of the design process - which can be tougher than it sounds. Enterprises often attempt this with service design models or maps based on the perceived customer agenda, but these may be informed by assumptions rather than the kind of in-depth, observational research needed to cultivate genuine customer insights. Design has to be constantly assessed, and reassessed in terms of the value it delivers the business and the consumer, and the process opened to include more functions, even external organizations.
“We continuously embed research as a capability in our product teams. It has to be continuous, not on and off, and qualitative as well as quantitative, so you’re looking at what customers are doing in real-life scenarios.”
Head of Customer Experience, Product and Design Service Line, Thoughtworks
iv. Strategy and touchpoints that serve customer goals
To provide customers a digital experience that’s seamless as well as empathic, the business needs to cultivate awareness of not just how customers use their product or service, but the role it plays in their lives. Diverse teams are best positioned to build this understanding and develop a unified product strategy to match - and to identify opportunities for new products or partnerships that may exist on the periphery.
A diverse, multi-disciplinary product-centric team
v. Embedding experience capabilities
With barriers to personalization and technology integration out of the way, building a single, continuous source of truth becomes more attainable. And so does the ability to empathize, interact and respond appropriately to each customer, regardless of the channel they choose. An effective API layer paves the way for a diverse range of customer interactions and easy integration with external platforms, expanding organizations’ capacity to explore new business models and design concepts.
vi. Making customer experience future-proof
There’s clear potential for new technologies to make the customer experience richer, more empathic and more convenient. Developments like augmented reality and artificial intelligence will significantly enhance the capabilities of common customer touchpoints like contact centers, and create new channels for businesses to connect with consumers and help them meet their goals. But in adopting these technologies into their customer strategies, businesses shouldn’t lose sight of who they’re ultimately designed to serve.
“Whatever new technology you’re considering, focus on customer goals and think about how technology can help achieve them. Ensure the technology is actually enabling and enhancing the customer experience, and not getting in the way.”
Managing Director, Australia, Thoughtworks
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