COVID-19, as a magnifier of disruptive forces and an accelerator of transformation, has been the catalyst for corporate revitalization. around the customer. Enabled by digital technology, specifically artificial intelligence, and machine learning, where AI powered virtual assistants, chatbots, and conversational AI platforms, are moving from test and learn to mainstream.
This is leading to a technologically inspired revolution in the experiences that customers enjoy every day. These experiences are faster, more personalized, better informed, and humanized, setting new standards and elevating customer expectations.

For most companies the customer experience at any point in time is the cumulative outcome of multiple different interacting and often bisecting processes. Historically these processes have been linked to silos and the customer experience the default outcome of each silo’s best intentions. For our leading companies this is no longer the case. These processes, and the capabilities they draw on are carefully orchestrated end to end across the customer journey.

Our number one in Japan, Tokyo Disney uses a vast array of technologies, including AI, across customer journeys to optimize the outcome for every customer. For customers this has meant a deeper more profound connection is taking place, firms seem to know them, be better able to serve them and enable the customer to better serve themselves. The progress in AI enabled chatbots is enabling responsiveness, two-way dialogues at scale, faster problem resolution which in turn is having a beneficial economic impact reducing costs to serve and driving greater loyalty through reduced customer effort.

FWD the insurer which is number one in both Vietnam and Thailand has developed “Enzo” an advanced AI robot that answers 1000s of customer queries every day1. Managing this has required the skillful orchestration of resources and the alignment of new technologies to improve the quality of rapidly redefined, mostly digital, customer journeys.

As part of this process customer journey mapping has moved from a one-off improvement technique to being an essential building block of customer engagement. Firms are now turning their attention to journey visualization understanding how customers behave across channels and how they achieve their objectives. AI and machine learning are enabling firms to learn at scale from customer behavior and to codify optimized journey management as a series of rules and algorithms, that guide customers through the best journey for them based on the outcomes they are seeking.

The more advanced players are building journey visualization models capturing where journeys start, how customers progress across channels, and where they are regressing, dropping off, or skipping steps.

They are looking to be more proactive in how they manage their interactions with the customer, resolving possible issues before they arise, sign posting the next best steps and nudging customers based on their real-time behavior, using their observations on parallel journeys to guide customers along more beneficial pathways.

The journeys do not stop at the customer, increasingly they are extending into the customer’s network of influencers, communities of interest and beyond. In fact, a recognition of the customer as a node in a network is leading to an extension of CRM definitions to include the different networks an individual customer participates in. Mecca in Australia for example has an extended customer network of some 20,000 advocating customers2. Lululemon in Canada has a network of “LuLu angels” who promote the firm’s products and connect with other customers to share experiences and knowledge.

It is though, a world driven by data, as AI and machine learning move to the fore then companies are having to think about how they codify their response to customer behavior as a series of algorithms and complex rules. For many organizations new customer processes must be machine executable and whilst doing this retain an essential human touch. Spuerkeess bank in Luxembourg launched “My intelligent Adviser”, which is coupled to an artificial intelligence system, capable of calculating the budget available to the customer and to categorize their income and expenses, in a way that is human and helpful3.

In fact, the human touch remains a vitally important part of the orchestrated experience. Companies are having to address the central role people should be allowed to play in the customer relationship – moving them away from purely technical support roles, to ones where the emotional component comes to the fore and the customer is met with creativity, emotion and passion. The number one company in Australia Mecca demonstrates that the integration of technology with a human is not only possible but leads to deeper more productive customer relationships.

So how are the leading companies navigating this complex mix to orchestrate competitively differentiated customer experiences?

For many of our leading companies’ success is rooted in holistic thinking, taking an end to end view of the experience a customer has and seamlessly connecting the capabilities, business processes and technologies required to deliver it. Few do this more this more effectively than Singapore Airlines (SIA), who comprehensive customer experience strategy is the bedrock of their success. The SIA experience is carefully orchestrated across the board and is driven by never being satisfied and constantly seeking improvement. This applies to food and beverage offerings, in-flight entertainment, and ground services.

However, what differentiates our leaders is the rigor with which they connect their Customer Experience Management strategy across each of the support processes required to deliver it:

  • The customer experience strategy. This outlines the organization’s purpose, and how it connects with its customers and how customer experience delivers the business strategy.
  • The journey management process, the journey architecture, the total atlas of journeys the company is managing, based on the different missions or objectives a customers has in using the products and services, across their life cycle with the business, the version control of journeys and the mechanisms by which journeys are defined and stored.
  • The experience design process, how experiences are crafted, the role of technology and the journey mapping tool set.
  • Experience delivery, the mechanisms by which “to be” journeys are delivered, the role of agile and MVPs and the sequencing of releases.
  • The measurement process, the voice of the customer, the employee and key stakeholders along with service level KPIs.

It is the skill that they bring to orchestration, harnessing all the moving parts, that provides them with a competitive advantage.

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