Operational Excellence within Customer Service, Support, Experience and ultimately Delight is clearly a rising key focus area that should not surprise. Smart companies, predominantly in the B2C space are already focussing on the delight stage of the customer journey. They understand that this is where the biggest ROI is today.
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Focus on the Customer
AirBnB, Zappos, Purple, Warbey & Parker Eyewear, Spotify, Dollar Shave, Trunk Club, Lyft, Uber are just a few of the startups that are all less than 10 years old, and all essentially selling commodities and relatively undifferentiated products, but they are all growing at exponential rates, because they have taken out all the friction in their customer journey, developed a WOW customer experience, and reimagined their industries. Their businesses, policies and procedures are all focused on Customer Delight, and their whole organization including their traditional sales and marketing departments are all designed to focus on delight.
As three respondents put it:
“Serving our customers is a team sport and everyone in the value chain needs to understand their impact on our ability to win”
“Changing customer demand dictates the way we deliver our services, everything else follows”
“The market is being filled by new entrants, customers have many choices now. Previously only 3”
Best Product vs. Customer Experience
Before your product had to be 10 times better than the competition, now it is your customer experience that has to be 10 times lighter than the competition. Before, it was usually the best product that won, now the best customer experience wins. Before it used to be what you sold and now it is how well you sell.
Companies like Apple and Amazon have led the way, providing a frictionless customer journey and experience, where there is no need to talk to a single human. As one respondent put it
“Thanks to companies such as Amazon and Apple, they now expect every organization to deliver products and services swiftly, with a seamless user experience”
In the B2C space the train has left the station, if you are not doing this, your business is already being disrupted. In the B2B space there is still massive opportunity to focus on customer delight and gain competitive advantage. By creating a low friction customer experience, where there are minimal handoffs between people, where close to 80% of customer interactions can be self-service. The key is to focus investment on making the customers more efficient, and particularly invest in automation, where humans now only handle the complicated cases, the exceptions, and employees have cross functional knowledge, to avoid hand- offs.
The age of the Customer
Customer delight, generates the power of word of mouth, in particular with the amplification of social media, and is where the biggest ROI is generated today; as compared to traditional marketing or sales practices. Word of mouth should be a key part of any business strategy, by designing a frictionless customer journey.
Simply put, we are in the age of the customer; customers expect you to know them, and Operational Excellence professionals need to be digital enablers. The pace of digital automation to enhance the customer experience, and reimage industries, and the new breed of technologies deeply rooted in knowing who your customers are and how they behave are already here, and need to be part of any process re-engineering and business transformation.
Executive leaders need to be aware that they are in a market where decisions or lack of decisions now on customer experience will have great consequence.
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About the Author
Founder and CEO, BTOES
Vijay has founded, built and sold two successful market-leading businesses. The first in London, UK in the office equipment distribution sector, which he launched in 1991 and sold to Ingram Micro in 1999, after which he took a year off and traveled around India with his wife. The second headquartered out of Chicago, IL, in the large-scale commercial B2B conference sector, which was launched in 2001 and sold in 2012.
In 2012 he retired to spend time with family and focus on meditation.
In 2015 he was looking for the next challenge and founded and is currently CEO of the Business Transformation & Operational Excellence World Summit & Industry Awards (BTOES), which has become the largest senior-level cross-industry event within the sector, BTOES.com, and BTOESInsights.com a professional online content platform for senior-level executives involved in continuous improvement, which has grown to over 188,000 subscribers.
He is also an angel investor, mentor, and board advisor.
Vijay lives in Stanmore, Middlesex, UK, with his wife Reshma, son Armaan, and labrador Archie.
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