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Strategic Shift Will Impact Superior Customer Experience

In a new report titled, “Closing the Customer Experience Gap: How IT and Business Can Partner to Transform Customer Experiences,” released by the Harvard Business Review, the future of customer experience is at hand.

“A significant strategic shift is coming in terms of the tools companies use to deliver superior customer experience,” the report says. “Website and email channels, which are more dominant today, will become much less business-critical. Meanwhile, mobile apps, chatbots, and other AI-driven tools will grow in importance. But the biggest and most significant shift will be in the use of advanced predictive analytics to drive data-driven customer experience decisions.”

According to the report, the senior vice president of strategic analytics for a marketing services provider is increasing investment in technologies that offer more control to the customer, including augmented reality and self-service systems as well as AI.

“Of course, emerging capabilities such as advanced analytics, process automation, or chatbots cannot transform customer experience in isolation,” the report says. “Only companies that put in place the cultural, structural, and technological foundations to take advantage of such new approaches will extract the full value from them.”

According to the CCO of an institutional investment and benefits company, “one of the most important skill sets of the future will be taking these new modular technologies and integrating those for single customer view, channel focus alignment, and the delivery of contextual customer experiences,” the report notes. “That’s the real challenge—but it’s also the real competitive advantage.”

Even as it becomes clear that companies that want to win on customer experience must embrace new organizational, technological, and process changes, many business leaders continue to rely on outmoded approaches to measuring customer value, the report says.

“Companies today are more likely to measure customer experience effectiveness with customer satisfaction surveys (56 percent) than any other method, followed by customer retention or repeat sales (42 percent),” the report shows. “While customer satisfaction is one metric that leaders use to take the temperature of their transformation efforts, it is typically not the sole measure relied upon—or even the most important one. Leaders are considerably more likely to look at metrics such as customer lifetime value, customer advocacy, and customer retention than their counterparts.”

What’s more, the report says there is no debate: “Customer experience is and will continue to be a key differentiator for all companies. While there are significant cultural, organizational, and technological barriers to customer experience transformation, there is also clarity around the requirements to overcome them.”

Customer experience leaders will:

• Have unambiguous executive support for customer experience transformation
• Develop a clear customer experience transformation strategy built on desired customer experience outcomes
• Create a customer-centric culture throughout the enterprise
• Break down customer data and organizational silos
• Align IT priorities with customer experience demands
• Invest in next-generation customer technology that can deliver a single source of customer insight across functions
• Partner with vendors and consultants with experience and skills required to collect, analyze, and act on expanding volumes of customer data
• Empower employees to deliver and innovate around customer experience

A total of 682 respondents completed the survey, including 367 who are members of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council.

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