The challenge for business today
Businesses know that effective customer engagement is a sure way to profitable revenue growth. The expectations of customers are higher than ever and they evolve at a pace that at times can be difficult to manage. More than ever before, customers in industries from financial services to health care demand personalised attention and better digital accessibility. With the right customer experience strategy and investment, it is possible to retain more customers, maximise the value of them throughout their lifetime, and grow the customer base. This can have real and lasting impact on the organisation, both internally and externally.
Over the years there have been iconic marketing campaigns that have been a lesson in how to effectively reach messages to customers. Numerous sales innovations have certainly shown spurts in business growth. We have witnessed cycles of investments in optimisation of customer services. And yet the secret sauce for sustaining customer engagement remains elusive to many organisations.
Front Office Transformation
PwC’s 22nd Annual CEO Survey (2019) threw up an interesting insight. CEOs face issues with their own capabilities, mostly in terms of data adequacy, with a huge gap - that remains ten years on. The most important data that CEO’s need is about customers’ and clients’ preferences and needs. The survey shows that in spite of significant investments in technology, only 15% CEOs in 2019 believe that they have comprehensive information on their customers’ and clients’ preferences and needs as compared to 21% in year 2009. Clearly, just investing in technology isn’t enough. What is needed is a complete Front Office Transformation aimed at creating great customer experience and which can deliver insights from across all customer touchpoints.
Keeping customers satisfied needs to be a core aim for any business, and underpinning this are three areas that need focus from a front office perspective to drive great customer experience and engagement:
Commercial excellence. With businesses increasingly having to do more with less there is a drive to make the front office as effective as possible. Pricing models may be misaligned, sales and marketing strategies might not be making the return they should. This and a variety of other commercial concerns often hold back businesses. Taking stock of the front-office capabilities will increase revenue, profitability and financial resilience.
Omni-channel customer engagement. How do customers interact with the organisation? Are they happy with the experience? Are the platforms and methods organisations use effective in meeting customer needs, and are they economically sound? These are some of the challenges businesses face around customer engagement. Getting this right can have a profound impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and cost reduction.
Technology innovation. New and existing competitors will always be challenging the business, and often they will be innovating in ways organisations didn’t expect. By using customer technology to gather better data, make more effective analysis, develop new customer products and services, organisations can improve operations, efficiencies and how organisations better engage the customers.
Good customer engagement platforms, such as Salesforce, connect everything to everything — seamlessly integrating sales, customer relationship management (CRM), customer service and social marketing applications. Real-time customer insights and actions are enabled by cloud-based analytics capabilities. Using this type of innovative technology combined with the necessary and proven business transformation will be key to success.
Some of the benefits delivered from improving the customer experience could include: 1) Improving pipeline value, 2) Increased conversion rates, 3) Boosting customer lifetime value, 4) More effective sales, marketing, and service operations, 5) Higher customer satisfaction, 6) Increased customer loyalty, 7) Greater staff satisfaction and 8) High return on investment from technology solutions.
Transformations aren’t easy. But they’re essential. 75% of front office transformations fail to generate returns that exceed the original investment, and 70% of those are due to lack of user adoption and behavioural change.
Why do so many projects fail? The answer is simple: Innovative technologies are powerful, but if the people don’t adopt them to enable new ways of thinking, working, and selling, new solutions won’t help. A top priority of the transformation efforts should be digital adoption.
By putting people at the centre of digital transformation, organisations can create a movement that encourages new ways of working and caters to the needs of individuals in their specific roles and to the organisation as a whole. Ultimately, this helps the people experience the benefits of new technology and encourages the behaviours that will make the transformation successful. Organisations can create excitement for the new ways of working and, ultimately, address customers’ needs, business processes and governance mandates to thrive in today’s market.
Where should businesses focus to create great customer experience?
Simply put, the aim of the transformation is to bring together front-office functions such as marketing, sales and support to enable the organisation to deliver better and differentiated customer experiences that improve customer development, acquisition and retention. Accelerating the shift to customer-centred commercial excellence with cloud technologies create significant benefits to businesses in today’s environment. And doing nothing puts companies at risk of seeing top performing products and services disrupted into obsolescence. Leading customer engagement platforms, such as Salesforce, can support that transformation and help tackle common front-office challenges like real-time customer analytics, multi-channel consistency and customer support models, if effectively embedded into the organisation’s DNA.
For effective customer experience transformation, businesses need to focus the following aspects from strategy through to execution.
Commercial excellence: Understanding which customers offer the most real or potential value, and undertaking changes that help organisations better understand, target and grow them:
a) Customer strategy - clarity on customer types, product/service suite, channels offered and success measures organisations provide
b) Marketing and sales effectiveness - high-performing marketing & sales functions that generate and convert demand into sales performance
c) Pricing optimisation - better decisions about which products/services to offer at what price to which customers
d) Tailored Collections - reduced debt risk and identified opportunities to recover more customer debt and increase cash collection.
Omni-channel customer engagement: The customer journey needs to be consistent, seamless and effective.
a) Omni-channel strategy - clear vision of how to engage the customers across the right channels to deliver desired commercials
b) Customer experience design - rich experiences delivered at all stages of the customer journey & across all channels
c) Customer service optimisation - high-performing customer service teams that are proactive and efficient in handling customers’ needs
d) Field service optimisation - engaged field service functions that rapidly and cost effectively address customer issues.
Technology innovation: The right technology will allow organisations to better understand the customers and deliver the customer experience they demand:
a) Customer insights platform - deep, actionable insight is generated that helps organisations to acquire, grow and retain customers
b) Digital solutions - digital solutions designed and deployed that meet customer and employee needs and differentiate organisations
c) Emerging technology - clarity on how emerging technology can help reimagine the business for the digital age
d) Customer technology - Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Content Management System (CMS) solutions that deliver target business outcomes and improve customer experience.
The internal customer experience: It’s important to remember that the employees are customers too. Their experience within the organisation will impact how they serve the end customers. By empowering the workforce organisations will have more motivated teams that strive to make the experience for external customers positive at every touch point. Businesses need to build applications, solutions, processes and strategies to make employees more productive and able to respond to customer needs efficiently and effectively.
How do we know this approach works? We use it ourselves.
How is PwC transforming into a technology enabled and digital first firm while keeping customer centricity at its core?
In order to derive full business benefits we made determined effort to stay away from siloed approaches. We chose Salesforce and focused on developing solutions that are created at the intersection of deep business expertise, human experience and best-in-class technology points of views. With this approach, we were able to identify solutions that would not have been intuitive when viewed through only one lens. The key practical principles for a front office transformation for us have been:
Develop a holistic customer engagement technology strategy
The objective was to develop a cloud-based customer engagement strategy that maps to the overarching business goals and help us keep pace in a customer-centric digital world. With an aim to attracting and retaining customers by being here, there, everywhere, in the cloud, we considered all aspects of our business from strategy through execution and emphasised on deploying easy-to-use solutions.
Enhance customer connections
We strengthened customer connections with cloud capabilities that spans sales, service and marketing to mobile, social and collaborative communities. This helped to better manage customer acquisition and interactions, and ultimately grow revenue, boost productivity and gain visibility into the business.
Listen, analyse, engage
It is important to harness data across the sales, service and marketing functions with cloud-based analytics capabilities to improve decision-making and the overall customer experience. We are constantly enhancing out capability to explore data, uncover new insights and take action instantly from any device.
Build custom applications
Wherever our business seeks specific functionality to meet needs through custom application development, we have ensured that we have the flexibility to deliver those transformative omni-channel applications - quite similar to adding an app to a smartphone.
Enhance social enterprise collaboration
In order to align internal teams and functions for idea sharing, working and collaboration we leverage Chatter, Communities and work.com on Salesforce. The goal here is to provide the social tools to help set goals, drive deals and promote customer satisfaction—within the context of the customer strategies.
Build interactive communities
Online communities enable our people to accelerate innovation, interaction and communication internally and with our partners and customers. We transitioned to powerful interactive communities using a structured and predictable migration framework.
Classical change approaches can be boring, hence we focused on immersive training sessions in form of escape rooms, always available built-in walkthroughs and tips and gamification of the transition by scoring behaviours that deliver the right business outcomes. We put in adoption KPIs focused on assessing collaboration, activities, revenue and relationships to understand progress and identify the support interventions needed.
Businesses in every sector will continue to face pressures due to disruptive business models and rapid pace of technology changes. Customer engagement with a single-minded focus on enhancing their experience will be critical for continued business growth. Understanding customer preference is hard work and difficult to achieve unless businesses transform their siloed front office. By getting the four key aspects of this transformation right –Commercial Excellence, Technology Innovation, Omni-Channel engagement and Internal Customer Experience, and by focusing on the practical principles discussed in this article, businesses can be confident of success in transforming their front office to deliver innovation that drives superior customer engagement sustainably.
For further details on how PwC can support your Front Office or Digital Transformation please contact:
Director, Technology Consulting
T: +353 (0) 1 792 6746
M: +353 (0) 87646 9383