Customer Experience or CX is not just a buzzword, it is a key strategic business imperative.

Let’s stop for a minute and focus on the consumer!

Today, we can call a taxi from our mobile phone. We no longer expect to start a trip without knowing how much it will cost. We are less and less worried about ‚Äúwhat are we having for dinner tonight?‚ÄĚ as we know Uber Eats can easily solve this need.

We can easily and quickly find the cheapest options to travel with apps like Skyscanner or Booking.com. We can enjoy our music at home or on the go, with one simple click on Spotify, or watch our favorite TV series whenever we want with Netflix.

We can pay directly from our mobile phone and we no longer have to go to the bank or sign papers to get a credit card or to have a bank account.

 

Yes, we can! 

And No, we no longer tolerate certain brand behaviors such as uncertainty, lack of response, waiting periods, offline only access, to name a few.

If you think this only applies to the new breed of digital (and successful) brands, you are wrong!

Brands have different backgrounds, different legacies and ecosystems, but the consumer is the same. And this is the number one rule that each brand and business manager should remember and respect.

 

  Yes, he/she can!

Today, the voice of the consumer is louder than ever. The ongoing digital transformation empowers consumers to give them unparallel control and influence over brands.

So, let’s go back to rule number one, and agree that all businesses should meet the current consumers’ expectations!

This is why Customer Experience should be your main OBSESSION.

 

The long-term road to succeed is not about gaining a few thousands of new consumers in the next month, or increasing the online sales share, but instead to tie all touch points together in a consistent end-to-end experience.

An experience that mitigates all the pain points, from the moment the consumer discovers the brand all the way to the post-purchase stage, that meets these current and extremely digital consumer expectations and that will ideally surprise and delight - in some key moments and touchpoints, conquering the consumer’s heart and build this long-term relationship.

This is the focus of the most valuable brands nowadays. They understand that a superior CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE is a key differentiator. They prioritize investment on CX versus focusing exclusively on product development or on a brilliant communication campaign. They heavily invest and rely on their digital channels, on their DCX. But they always start by investing in understanding their consumers.

Stellar CX examples are Apple, whose focus is not strictly centered on product design but also in a seamless and intuitive shopping experience (off and online), Amazon that brought convenience to a whole new level or Netflix that continues to reinvent personalization while stetting high standards for user-friendly interfaces.

Starbucks is also an excellent example of a physical and more traditional business that has been able to evolve and gain worldwide recognition by creating a different and desirable environment with a personal touch to coffee delivery, appreciated by consumers all over the world!

Obviously, these brands have other important arguments, but  the obsession with a superior CX is clearly the common denominator.

But, while many of the business managers are still struggling on how to re-organize their organization to focus on CX, a new standard of technology is revolutionizing the way to develop a superior CX - Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence is playing a key role throughout the journey in which a consumer interacts with a brand. This Customer Journey encompasses all touchpoints from initial awareness to post-purchase engagement and therefore  shapes the OVERALL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE with the brand.

In fact, AI is starting to be integrated into all stages of the Customer Journey, enabling companies not only to meet but to exceed customer expectations at every point of the journey, fostering loyalty and driving growth.  

This AI intervention varies across the different stages of the journey. At earlier stages¬†personalized ads and content, as well as predictive analytics¬†are critical to identify and attract current and potential customers, whereas on later stages ‚Äď like the After Sales Stage - AI chatbots and virtual assistants can provide support, handling common queries and complaints, leaving more complex issues to human agents.

Let’s again have a look at how the CX centric brands are using AI to boost their competitive edge:

Today's "Netflix Experience" is a best-in-class example of data usage and ability to build powerful recommendations. By applying AI algorithms to all sorts of data such as viewing history and browsing behavior, Netflix masters personalized viewing experiences. Over 80% of the content people watch on Netflix is now based on its personal recommendations platform.  Personalized thumbnails, "Because You Watched" suggestions or Top Picks are great examples on how AI integration can help a brand standing out from competition at the earlier stages of the Customer Journey.

Another smart AI usage in the initial stage of the journey is Skyscanner new tool called  Skyscanner Savings Generator. By leveraging AI and data analytics to analyze millions of flights, it supplies information on the average flight price during the month you selected, the cheapest days of the week to travel and how in advance you should book your trip. Although still in a beta stage it is a great example on how an AI-based tool can help travelers in the discovery phases of the travel planning journey.

As we move along the customer journey into the purchase stage, we look at how Sephora pioneered in the adoption of AI in the beauty industry to revolutionize how consumers shop and purchase makeup products through an omnichannel approach. For quite a while, the brand has been launching AI and AR based tools like Sephora's Visual Artist, Color iQ technology or Sephora's Virtual Assistant to generate precise and personalized recommendations based on recognition of facial features, skin tone, imperfections, among others. These AI based tools set a new level of relevancy and effectiveness resulting in a significant reinforcement of customer engagement and sales.

A more recent case study is OCTOPUS ENERGY (UK energy supplier) that is using Generative AI to reshape the future of Customer Service, a critical stage to ensure clients retention and long term loyalty. A study published in 2023 by IBM Institute for Business Value, states that Customer Service is the CEOs number one priority when it comes to the usage of Generative AI. There are in fact multiple repetitive tasks that can easily be addressed by Generative AI applications, leaving the human touch to deal with more complex situations. Octopus energy is a strong example of the successful usage of Gen AI applied to Customer Service. This company has successfully integrated a conversational Gen AI BOT into its customer service channel, handling the work equivalent to 250 people, which is receiving higher customer ratings than the ones by human agents.

Overall, we are witnessing how AI is changing (and will incrementally change) the way brands interact with consumers, across all stages of their purchase journeys.

AI is clearly bringing new smart ways to go beyond consumers’ expectations more efficiently, becoming a new strong reason for brands to increase their Customer Experience Obsession.

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This article was written by Filipa Caldeira e Pedro Batalha, co-founders of the Fullsix Group.

Do you know the program
Doing Digital?
Published in 
5/4/2024
 in the area of 
Marketing & Sales

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