How to Improve Customer Experience in the Digital Age – Published in World Broadband News, 17th April 2018

World Broadband News

Improve Customer Experience in the Digital Age

What’s lurking on the horizon? What can businesses expect at a time when so much is in flux? I’ve gleaned some insight from unexpected, diverse sources recently.

I don’t often experience déjà vu, and even more rarely does it occur in two different domains.

I recently read The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. In the book, Schwab writes:

This Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different. It is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.
And have you read Origin, the latest masterpiece from Dan Brown? When I did, it was kind of apocalyptic. In particular, this paragraph stood out:

Human beings are evolving into something different. We are becoming hybrid species — a fusion of biology and technology. The same tool that live outside our bodies — smartphones, hearing aids, reading glasses, most pharmaceuticals — in fifty years will be incorporated in our bodies to such an extent that we will no longer be able to consider ourselves Homo Sapiens.

Digging in to CX Live


Gautam Borah will lead a presentation on customer experience during next week’s Broadband Forum Asia. Learn more about his session here.
See what I mean by déjà vu? I can vouch; these quotes do the best job of paraphrasing what lurks on the horizon in terms of the socio-business environment. So what does that mean for us as professionals? How can we use this insight to become better service providers, better business people?
Today’s digital landscape
There are several salient features of today’s digital landscape that define the basic rules of business in the digital era:

Digital technology is widespread and spreading fast: Cross-border flows of digitally transmitted data accounted for one-third of the increase of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014 and it is increasing, 2017 research found. This creates outsize influence for some nations and companies, altering the world order.
Digital players wield outsize market power: In 2017, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook were the five most valuable companies, far outpacing their brick-and-mortar brethren.

Digital technologies are poised to change the future of work: This is what often being produced as evidence as the “Second Machine Age,” when businesses apply automation, big data and artificial intelligence to digital technologies and ultimately impact about half the world’s economy.

This direction is characterized by speed and accuracy. In this age, many pundits predict customer experience management will be a game changer for a business — no longer lingering on the periphery as it has done in the past.

Yin and yang of broadband
Broadband penetration is directly linked to each country’s development. A 10% increase in broadband penetration increases that nation’s per capita GDP by 1.38%, the World Bank’s Economic Impact of Broadband report finds. Specifically, the paper finds, broadband has a “significant impact on growth and deserves a central role in country development and competitiveness strategies” for developing nations.” The infrastructure also is vital to developed countries, too, for continued advances and success, the report says.

Having broadband is not enough, though. When you’re talking about a broadband continuum based on speed, users can conduct only basic browsing and email at 1Mbit/s or lower rates. However, for high-end applications like virtual reality, people need speeds of about 1 Gbit/s to 10 Gbit/s, according to the World Bank Report.

The Broadband Speed Continuum

(Source: World Bank’s Economic Impact of Broadband)

By attaining high speeds some providers, unfortunately, believe they’ve attained their goal and now can overlook the importance of customers’ experience management. What more can subscribers want, they may ask, now they can zip around the Internet using virtual and augmented reality, watching movies with no lag time and playing games with zero buffering? It is, however, imperative to remember that overall broadband performance is like yin and yang. It’s a blend of technology and experience management.

Overlooking subscribers’ need for more than speed and a consistent experience management contributes to this industry’s large number of customer complaints.

Type of Customer Contacts – Broadband

(Source: By Gautam Borah; Compiled from various websites)

Fig: Type of Customer Contacts – Broadband (Source: By Gautam Borah; Compiled from various websites) So what we can expect in customer experience management in the next few years, specifically in relation to broadband? The list below combines current research with my field experience. The trends are industry agnostic and likely to impact all businesses irrespective of the industry they belong to.
Powerful and choosy customers emerge
The basic ingredients of customer requirements can be termed “Right” (aka product), “Now” (or time to deliver or recover) and “Free” (or cost). Digital technologies will push the boundaries of customer requirements faster than ever.

Customization, individualization will be key
Once customers are choosy because they have so many options, businesses must shift to individualization and customization. This is similar to what I call the “patient model,” where each person in a medical center requires different types of medical care based on their specific health needs.

Providers must focus on simplification
How many times have you contacted a WhatsApp call center? (Do they have one?) WhatsApp is one of the best examples of a problem-free product, a tool that’s so simple a customer never has to contact the developer with questions about the product. That’s where companies all need to be, including service providers.

Customer service, not product, determines brand choice
Increasingly, customers will select a particular brand depending on the quality of service provided. Consumers are placing more importance on customer service, a trend expected to grow, according to the most recent American Express Global Customer Service Barometer.

Strong need for real-time experience
The new consumer journey is shifting from sessions to spurts — or what Google has referred to as micro-moments. This will emerge as the new battleground for brands to Be There, Be Useful and Be Quick. Micro-moment victories will depend on an organization’s creation of relevant, personalized real-time experience at the right instant.

Adopting an integrated framework
It has become imperative for firms to create customer experiences that are fast and easy to adopt. This means that an organization can’t deliver customer experience in broken pieces. It demands an integrated model, not picking up pieces in traditional discrete areas.

The Customer Experience Management Excellence (or CEMEX) 9c3i framework delineated below is an integrated framework that I formulated based on rigorous industry research, discussion with experts and application with success.

Building a Customer Experience Framework

The CEMEX 9c3i framework (Source: Gautam Borah)

Building a Digital Customer Experience framework
The framework I propose works on the following premises:

  • Customer experience needs to be created across a lifecycle
  • The objectives are the opportunities to create a stream of experiences at various points within the lifecycle culminating in
    crescendos, where cstomers experience the maximum delight)
  • Defined interfaces with internal functions provide the impetus to a seamless experience
  • The accelerator of the framework is an analytics system
  • A the base of the model are people (capability and engagement)(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s and don’t reflect the views of anyone else, including the organization he is working for.)

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