Customer experience: every journey starts with a map
Customer experience has become one of the most vital business issues of our times. Digital technology has created and empowered a new generation of smart consumers who have very high expectations and who are perfectly prepared to take their business elsewhere if they do not get the engagement and service they want.
In my region of IMEAR, I have seen many developments emerge designed to help companies make the shift to addressing customer experience first. They are intended to impact every touchpoint along the all-important customer journey. For that is what it is today, a journey, an all-encompassing, continuous relationship between customer and provider, where every interaction is significant.
Digital disrupting conventional
Digital and mobile technologies have enabled numerous disruptive new solutions and services that are transforming and improving the customer experience across all types of sectors. The mobile and web experience has evolved significantly, with the airline industry a good example where digital has driven big change. I travel with Emirates frequently from Dubai, and the experience is unrecognizable from five or 10 years ago.
Today I can take multiple actions, from booking trips to interacting with customer service, via the company’s mobile app. Similarly, customer interaction is now pre-emptive and proactive. Staying with airlines, when I land back in Dubai from a trip, my mobile app automatically alerts me that my luggage is on carousel number six. Mobile and digital have also dramatically changed the role of the customer service contact center, potentially making it a back-up rather than the first point of contact.
Thanks to digital transformation’s impact on the customer experience, innovation is driving new start-ups to successes based on new technology-powered business models. In the Middle East and Africa, Uber is now a popular service but was beaten to the punch by Careem, a local-based mobile transport provider. Careem, an Orange customer, has enjoyed great success with its homegrown ride-sharing app and by focusing on the customer experience first. They are now present in 25 cities throughout the region, boast a user base of six million customers and a network of 150,000 drivers - and they are still growing.
Customer experience covers all industries
It does not matter what industry a company is in – if they embrace digital and focus on transforming the customer experience, they increase their chances of success. But digital also places pressure on companies to maintain performance and keep customers satisfied at all touchpoints. In the digital world, your competitors are only ever a click away. So the onus is on companies to stay innovative, use digital technology to keep on delivering a consistent customer experience, or risk facing the consequences.
How do you deliver that consistent experience?
It is my belief that great, continuous customer experience can only be achieved mapping the whole customer journey before you engage with the customer.
On the surface a customer journey map looks a simple idea. You draw out all the steps a customer goes through when engaging with your company, including products, online experience, physical in-store retail experience, customer service, and others. And in the digital era, with more touchpoints and omnichannel communication to factor in, such a map becomes more complicated but also more necessary.
Consider attending a sporting event these days. A sports fan going to a stadium can now enjoy the whole experience, from purchasing tickets and receiving in advance to getting news and updates about the game direct to their mobile, interactive games and other services, the whole event, all via an app on their device. Then while at the match, we can offer them other things – replays of a match incident, highlights videos, more interactive content. The whole match ‘journey’ has been mapped out in advance and the customer gets an immersive experience.
The age of the customer
Transforming the customer experience by mapping out the customer journey also has a great supplemental benefit – it helps transform your entire business. New ways of doing things become more accepted and less disruptive, and companies can then find that digital helps them transform business processes and interactions within the organization itself, creating a routine of continuous improvement that keeps a company competitive.
This is now the age of the customer. The abundance of information and touchpoints enabled by digital in an increasingly connected world has raised customer expectations to all-time high levels. As a result, customers’ patience and tolerance for poor experiences are lower than ever. If you do not give customers the quality experience they expect they will be happy to go to someone else who will. Mapping the customer journey to deliver great customer experience has never been more important.
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With more than 18 years’ experience, Mohammed has accumulated a solid international business and technical experience in the ICT world, working in different countries such as France, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates. He holds an MBA from Webster American University in Geneva, an MSc. from the French National School of Telecommunications (ENST de Bretagne) and a joint Engineering Degree from the ENSEEIHT (in France) and the ENSIAS (in Morocco).
Mohammed is currently the regional Head of Orange Applications for Business (OAB) in the Indirect channels, MEA and Russia region (IMEAR).