The Reality Of Customer Experience In Today’s Organisations

Madelyn Bayer

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the Trans-Tasman Business Circle Connected Customer event, jointly sponsored by SAP and Salmat. Here are some of my thoughts and takeaways.

The event consisted of a panel of experts sharing learnings and experiences around their organisations’ customer experience (CX) journeys, and exploring the reality of the customer and digital experience (DX) in today’s organisations. The panel was moderated by Richard Raj, group digital solutions and innovations manager at Frucor Beverages. Richard did an excellent job of summarising and reflecting on key points as discussed by the panel.

The panel of experts included:

  • Stephen Bowe, head of digital, BNZ
  • Melissa Cadman, consultant – channel strategy and business execution
  • Summer Collins, general manager customer transformation, Spark

Our own Graeme Riley, managing director at SAP New Zealand kicked off the day by reviewing some of the findings of the Australia and New Zealand SAP Digital Experience Report.

The report I mentioned in a blog post a few weeks ago highlights the results of SAP approaching thousands of Australian and New Zealand consumers to find out how well brands in the region are delivering on the digital expectations of their customers.

The findings were sobering:

·       In Australia, just 26% were delighted with their digital experience.

·       In New Zealand, just 31% (though note, better than Australia).

Graeme explained in his speech, “There’s a digital gap in the region. And this gap matters.

Those delighted with a brand’s digital experience are nearly six times more likely to remain with that brand than someone who is unsatisfied. 

And for those measured on Net Promoter Score: Customers delighted with their digital experience gave an average NPS of 69%; while those unsatisfied gave an NPS of -54%.

It was clear that throughout the day and questioning of the panel that while as a region there is work to be done to not only meet but exceed consumers’ digital expectations, there are several brands getting it right and reaping the rewards.

The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), among others, is one of these brands.

BNZ was the top-performing bank in the report. Stephen Bowe, who heads up the bank’s digital team, is focused on creating remarkable banking experiences that are truly focused on the customer.

Stephen talked about excellent customer experience and digital experience being table stakes, the real gold being in helping customers achieve their goals. BNZ focuses heavily on helping customers be good with money, a concept that is at the heart of their mission. Stephen believes its essential digital channels support this.

Stephen outlined how having a segment of one is key, adding that the ability to tailor services and offerings around the customer’s goals is critical to their success. BNZ in particular focuses on reducing “dumb bank moments” such as repeatedly having to provide the same information. Stephen offered this example: “Sometimes simply by just by pre-populating forms, we can lift the customer satisfaction with the digital experience.”

Stephen also made the point that regardless of the industry, public sector or commercial organisations need to keep the customer at the heart of what they do. Digital experience is there to enhance and make life easier for the customer, and services need to work around the customer—not the other way around.

Stephen closed by talking about the need to iterate and just try things out, remarking on a quote from Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” 

I myself am not a BNZ customer, but must admit that now, after hearing so much about its engaging digital experience and being disappointed by my own bank’s lack of imagination, I am switching (it must be the millennial in me).

But in today’s one-click economy, consumers demand more every day – better convenience, greater control, and instant satisfaction. If a brand can’t deliver it, the consumer will find another that can. BNZ seems to have found its differentiator and biggest weapon against competitors in its outstanding digital experience.

Spark’s Summer Collins, GM of customer transformation for home, mobile, and business, was the second panel expert. She is responsible for customer innovations and interactions, digital strategy and capability, and transformation delivery. Spark, like BNZ, has been and continues to undergo significant transformation in both its customer and digital experience, as well as its business model.

Summer talked about personalising offerings just being the beginning—“How do you make your digital experience truly useful to the customer?”— and moving away from merely being transactional to being something the fits seamlessly with the customers’ life and goals. A recent example: Spark assigned  virtual assistants (or robots) to the first 100 customers who signed up to get the new iPhone 7, which cut time out of customers’ day by queueing in line on their behalf.

Summer explained, “It’s about what is in the best interest of the customer. Don’t focus on just trying to make a buck; understand what customers really need.”

As Summer pointed, however, there is a fine balance between being creepy and being cool. With increased access to customer insights, marketers now have an opportunity to unlock a virtuous circle whereby they can constantly tailor offerings to boost loyalty, advocacy, and revenue.

Melissa Cadman, a senior transformation specialist in the areas of customer-centric business transformation and technologies, was the final panel expert. Known for creating high-performing teams, Cadman excels at getting an organisation’s mindset right to respond to customers’ ever-growing and varied expectations.

Melissa discussed the need to create an emotional connection with the customer: “Emotional connection breeds loyalty.” This concept is supported by the digital experience report findings, in which brands that scored higher emotional attributes such as “makes me love the brand” and “excites and engages me” showed higher customer loyalty scores and Net Promoter Score.

Melissa also talked about how a great customer experience should be an organisational imperative. She believes that organisations in the future will structure their businesses around this concept. We are starting to hear this more and more now, with customer experience being less a technological issue and more a cultural one.

Melissa explained, “Today’sRorganisational structures do not work to this model – with the customer often being passed through various silos of the business before rounding out their engagement. The real challenge for organisations is that consumers expect their whole lifecycles with organisations to be perfect, and therefore organisations need to develop strategies to make the customer experience consistent both across channels and different parts of the business.”

Here, agility is key, and conversations around picking the right technology partners are becoming critical. This is something Richard Raj reflected on recently in CIO Magazine, with Frucor tackling this issue head-on: “Renaming the department to ‘Business Technology’ better reflects this shift of focus from technology for ‘efficiency’ to ‘technology for business growth’.”

Rounding out the day was a discussion around the internal vs. external CX debate. As you may be aware, this has been a long-running debate and is particularly important as we move into the increasingly digital world of CX. With so many organisations turning to whizzy apps and modern customer-facing digital channels as the Holy Grail of differentiation, providing the same standard for the employees supporting these channelsoften gets lost.

A top back-end and employee-customer experience is just as necessary and important, especially considering we could see contact centre staff supporting up to nine different channels and growing in the near future.

The key takeaways for all the organisations in the room: Employees should be supported with a simple, effective, and efficient system to help them do their job well, as well as a warning about the danger of forgetting this when you are buried in customer-facing customer experience strategies.

Overall, the imperative is clear: Regardless of whether you are just starting out or are mid-way through delivering a new customer or digital experience, getting the digital customer experience right means gaining thousands of customers and millions in revenue. In short: survival.

Interested in hearing more about BNZ’s digital strategy and how they are tackling the customer and digital experience challenge? Head along to this recording of a recent webcast with Stephen Bowe and SAP’s Jennifer Arnold.


Madelyn Bayer

About Madelyn Bayer

In my role as an Industry Value Associate at SAP Australia and New Zealand, I help organisations calculate and realise the value that new systems and technology will have on their operations. My role covers industries spanning utilities, public sector, consumer products and retail with a specific focus around customer engagement and commerce solutions and through this role I have developed a strong understanding of mega trends, cloud computing, enterprise software, the networked economy, Internet of Things, millennials and digital consumers. I am particularly passionate about creating sustainable solutions to solving world problems through technology.