MediAvataar's News Desk
To create distinctive customer experiences, large companies need to push the boundaries and adopt next-generation digital thinking and practices in seven key areas.
That’s how long it takes financial-technology start-up Kabbage to approve a small-business loan—nearly 5,000 times faster than the 20 days it takes a typical bank. It’s no wonder that customers’ experiences with technology companies have not only altered their behavior but also raised their expectations about how interactions with all businesses should work. As a survey conducted by Ipsos and LinkedIn found, some 67 percent of affluent millennials are open to using non-financial-services brands.1
Incumbents are moving fast to adapt, applying a range of approaches to improve customer experiences. These include everything from design thinking, which involves applying creative, nonlinear approaches to reinvent how customers interact with businesses, to agile, which calls for fielding prototypes quickly, gaining early customer input, and then iterating continually.
With so many players in the mix, the bar is being raised ever higher, and the danger is that an incumbent may work hard but end up with a “me too” customer experience that does not set it apart. Instead, a great experience that delights customers and earns their loyalty is needed. We’ve found that improving a customer experience from merely average to something that wows the consumer can lead to a 30 to 50 percent increase in measures such as likelihood to renew or to buy another product. Here are seven areas we’ve identified where incumbents can step up to design and deliver great customer experiences.
From measuring customer behavior to spending time with customers to truly understand them
Most companies conduct quantitative research on customers. Such data provide important insights, but to create distinctive customer journeys, companies must not only understand their customers’ behavior but also develop deep empathy. In particular, companies need to empathize with customers when they experience difficulties and obstacles.
This means embracing new techniques for intimately understanding customer journeys: ethnographic observation and “shop-alongs,” where researchers watch or accompany customers in stores; customer diaries, where customers describe, hour by hour, their activities and reactions as they interact with products and services; codesign, where customers give feedback about early versions of proposed offerings; and continual live testing and design iteration with customers after launch.
Top-performing companies also develop a clear vision of the entire customer ecosystem, understanding relevant interactions that extend beyond the core journey the company controls. For example, the journey to securing a mortgage includes an understanding of how potential home buyers consider schools. Such an approach allows companies to uncover new insights that allow them to design and deliver truly transformative customer experiences.
Example: Climate insurance for farmers
An insurer was developing a new product to protect livestock farmers from the greater variability in hay yields caused by climate change. It undertook traditional market research but also sent a product-design team to observe the daily activities of farmers.
The team learned that farmers are pressed for time but also very tech savvy, relying heavily on PCs and mobile devices in their daily activities. The insurer had originally planned to market its new product through traditional channels, but insights gleaned from an observation trip led it to create a digital solution, which allowed farmers to gather information and buy policies online at night and on weekends. The user interface was streamlined and incorporated the farmer’s perspective: for example, it quantified the number of cattle and sheep using the term “livestock units.” The insurer also provided additional value to customers by offering historical weather data and future forecasts on the app.
From designing the user interface to designing the complete customer experience
Many executives believe design is about making devices and screens look pretty. Good visuals improve any experience, but being great requires thinking about everything—and everyone—it takes to fulfill customer needs. True customer-experience design involves crafting each interaction customers have with a company along the path that runs from the minute they consider a purchase through their entire relationship with the product or service. As Steve Jobs said, “[Design is] not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
To design a compelling customer journey, companies must enlist everyone who has an impact on any part of a customer’s journey, not just people with the word “design” in their title—in particular, operational and IT groups should be involved. Companies need to not merely map out customer touchpoints but also implement changes that must occur in the background to deliver a superior journey.
Example: Disney’s MagicBands
After a five-year effort to root out pain points in the experience of visitors to its theme parks, in 2013, Disney introduced MagicBands. These brightly colored wristbands allow visitors to board rides, pay for meals and gifts, and even unlock the doors of their hotel rooms. More important, the bands and the technology behind them—which is stitched into every part of the park—allow visitors to select exactly what they want to see and do in advance. That has helped turn a day at Disney from a series of highlight attractions interrupted by waiting in line to a magical end-to-end experience.
From addressing issues in the customer journey to completely rethinking the customer experience
Many companies spend a lot of time improving their current customer journeys. This can lead to incremental cost reductions and quality enhancements. But such an approach may also cause companies to narrow their horizons and blind them to better overall solutions.
True reinvention requires taking a hard look at journeys from the customer’s perspective to find the pivotal insight around which a new journey should revolve. The focus is addressing customer needs, not improving a process. Bringing in people who are not normally involved in the process can be a great way to encourage fresh thinking. Assessing the best digital experiences employed in other industries can also be useful inspiration.
Example: Amazon Dash
Online retailers recognize that customers often forget to order household items when they run out, resulting in lost sales. Most deal with this problem using solutions that reside online: standing orders delivered on a periodic basis or checklists on the company website to jog customers’ memories. But Amazon bridged this gap by wholly transforming the order experience.
Amazon’s pivotal insight was that the moment when people want and are most inclined to reorder is when they’re using an item and realize they’re about to run out. So it created Amazon Dash, a small Wi-Fi-connected device the size of a USB drive, decorated with the logo of a common household item such as laundry detergent, plastic wrap, or coffee. Customers place these “order buttons” around their home on appliances or cupboards and simply press them when they realize they are running low on an item.
From working around the regulations to rewriting the rules
At many companies, particularly those in financial services, efforts to transform customer journeys have been constrained by the understandable and necessary caution of internal groups responsible for ensuring compliance with regulations. Some companies address this challenge by being innovative about everything but the mandated steps, often leading to a jarring or cumbersome experience for customers: “You can complete this application online, but you then need to print everything and come to the branch next week.”
The best companies focus on the underlying purpose of the rules, engaging regulators and lawyers to show how technological advances can make things better for customers while improving risk outcomes. This process also often uncovers status quo situations where people assume there are constraining regulations—“Things have always been done that way for a reason”—when in fact that isn’t the case.
Example: Digital identification and verification
Advances in optical character recognition and machine learning have allowed technology companies to develop solutions for the verification of government-issued identity documents, such as national identification cards and driver’s licenses, with a high degree of reliability.
Many banks wanted to adopt digital identification and verification to enable online opening of accounts. But internal compliance groups were wary. One bank broke the logjam by going directly to national regulators with a pilot demonstration showing the new, technology-based process was even more reliable than the existing process, paving the way for regulatory acceptance. As a bonus, the digital process automatically captures names, addresses, and dates of birth from documents used to verify identity, so customers don’t even have to type that information when they open a new account online.
From developing software using agile to becoming an agile organization
Many incumbents use agile software-development practices inside their IT departments and believe this means their organizations are agile. But if only IT adopts agile practices—fast, iterative development—companies can’t reap its full benefits and are still slowed by traditional decision-making and deployment processes. Creating responsive and adaptive customer experiences requires the entire organization to be agile. Making that change begins with putting in place new governance standards and ways of working.
Product managers responsible for developing new offerings, for example, need the authority to make decisions quickly and to hold staff from functional groups accountable. This means metrics and incentives also need to be adjusted to focus on end-to-end, rather than functional, objectives. Instead of asking for detailed business cases, companies should fund projects the way venture-capital firms fund start-ups: making a number of small bets at first and providing more money if early results are promising. Small pilots can be tried in a few locations and, if successful, be rolled out across the entire network.
Example: Rapid development teams that extend across the organization
One European bank set up scrum teams in its IT department. Yet it still took up to a year to bring new customer offerings online, due to slow decision making and delays in the deployment of new software. To shorten this time to market, the bank created cross-functional teams accountable to empowered product managers. Because legacy IT systems can block the move to agile, the bank shifted to a modern IT architecture and cloud technologies, which allowed new software developed by the scrum teams to go live on the company website in a matter of seconds.2 By making the whole organization agile, the bank dramatically reduced time to market.
From delivering a product to constant iteration
Many incumbents figure out what new product or service offering they want to create for customers and then launch pilots, projects, or trials. These typically emerge as infrequently as once a year, or perhaps every six to nine months if sped up. Live customers are often excluded from pilots in a bid to do thorough testing before release.
But an article of faith among the start-up community in Silicon Valley is that a product is never done. These companies launch a minimum viable product with the express purpose of getting customer feedback and then iterating. Based on customer input, improved versions of the product are released quickly and continuously. Our Digital Quotient analysis3 has shown that the best-performing digital companies embrace test-and-learn approaches that value speed over perfection. As LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman once said, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”4
The truth is that it’s impossible to know in advance how an experience will be embraced by customers. It’s better to launch sooner with fewer features and a simpler interface and learn what works, based on real customer input. This approach requires not just ensuring speed in delivering a product but also putting in place an infrastructure—customer-satisfaction metrics, live and A/B testing capabilities, product development, and empowered managers—to act quickly on feedback and iterate the experience.
Example: Tablet-based account opening
When a European bank tried several times to fix its account-opening process with large projects, it floundered. Stung by these false starts, it instead launched a small pilot in a few locations, focused only on student customers. Using this new approach, the bank was able to build a new tablet-based account-opening app in just 16 weeks. It then iterated new versions based on user feedback, improving the verification process so applicants could open accounts immediately and letting some customers request overdraft protection. After these tweaks, the app was scaled across new segments and more branches.
From collaborating under the guidance of leaders to working together spontaneously
Companies need to push their people to move beyond traditional functional roles and work together to reinvent customer journeys. This is typically done by creating temporary project teams or task forces. But responding to a customer issue or improving a journey requires a culture where people from different functions work together spontaneously. Our Digital Quotient analysis revealed that less than 30 percent of companies say they have a highly collaborative culture.5 Improvements can come from having motivated, empowered frontline employees driven by clear purpose. Technology has a role too. By moving into cloud-based, virtualized environments, for example, companies can help teams to experiment and innovate.
Example: Supporting collaboration for an agile program
At another European financial institution, an agile program had been mobilized for three months, and individual teams were working hard, but no real progress had been made in building the planned offering. Why? The company had formed a cross-functional team that included all the key units, but its members still reported to functional heads and were housed in six different locations. Recognizing the initiative was stuck, the company appointed a single executive as end-to-end leader and held five full-day in-person meetings, allowing many people to meet their peers face-to-face for the first time. Coaches provided live on-the-job coaching, helping team members gain new skills via experiential learning while building cohesion and trust.
Many incumbents are working hard to reinvent their customers’ journeys. The ones that win will be those that push the boundaries and simultaneously adopt next-generation digital thinking and practices.
Authored by Xavier Lhuer, Tunde Olanrewaju, and Hyo Yeon
VivaConnect, India's Largest Voice & Missed Call Company, took customer engagement to another level with its recent campaign for Zee Talkies.
As an entertainment channel, Zee Talkies wanted to gratify loyalty and maximize viewer's engagement. Hence, on the lines of a concept suggested by them, VivaConnect arranged to run a contest to engage viewers through a simple action of giving a missed call, backed by gratification in the form of cash.
Titled as ‘Daba Bot, Milel Note’, a five-hour contest conducted (Monday to Saturday) from 7 pm to midnigh followed by Sundayfrom 12 pm to midnight. The Contest was promoted across various platforms by Maharashtra favorite youth icon Dagdu from Timepass i.e. Prathamesh Parab. The viewers had to answer film-based questions by simply giving a missed call on the number mentioned against the correct option. A mega-prize of Rs.9999 while others got a chance to win cash up-to Rs.5000 on a daily basis.
Every day winners were announced on Zee Talkies website which led to increased credibility. In all, over 650 winners were announced. Approximate 3 lac on an average missed calls were received on a daily basis while the count reached 9 lac on Sundays. With the overall missed call count being more than 1.3 crore, the channel was overwhelmed with the voluminous participation; the fact being that the contest was through a simple-action: Missed Call!
Appreciating this, Zee Talkies Business Head, Bavesh Janavlekar, says “We take great pride in proclaiming that this unique consumer engagement initiative has garnered an unprecedented response, making it the biggest engagement contest of Maharashtra. On behalf of Zee Talkies, I would like to thank the audience of Maharashtra for supporting us through all our initiatives. We promise to provide wholesome entertainment for our audiences in the times to come.”
Dentsu Webchutney, the digital agency from within the Dentsu Aegis Network, has bagged QiKU Network Technologies’ media mandate.
The account will be managed by Webchutney’s New-Delhi office.
Commenting on the win, Ashish Kaushik, Senior Director, Dentsu Webchutney says, “We’re extremely glad to be associated with QiKU and we feel that this partnership will be an exciting opportunity for us to push the boundaries in the digital sphere by building a brand right from a scratch. Leveraging our resources and our understanding of the digital sphere, we hope to transform the consumer’s perception and develop a strategic vision for the brand.”
QiKU Network Technologies (Shenzen) Co. Ltd, founded in January 2015, is a joint venture between security software giant Qihoo 360 and one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers- Coolpad. The company will start shipping their handsets to India and Indonesia later this year. Distribution to additional countries including Brazil, Russia and Turkey, will follow next.
Varun Sharma, CEO QiKU- India said, “With QiKU we want to build a game changing mobile internet company. We will do this by creating truly innovative devices with customer centric software. Our first Flagship - The Q Terra, will come with an almost bezel-less design and a super-fast, ultra-low power consuming 360 OS. This flagship will be the first in a series of game-changing devices we will launch in the coming few months.”
Talking about the future of QiKU’s media presence, Ashish Somvanshi, National Head- Digital Marketing, QiKU- India said, “Transforming a brand into a socially responsible leader doesn't happen overnight by simply writing new marketing and advertising strategies. It takes effort to identify a vision that your customers will find credible and aligned with their values. This is the reason why we have chosen Dentsu Webchutney as our trusted partner.”
Assumes operational management of the HBO channels in South Asia
HBO continues to reign and entertain with the best of Hollywood blockbuster premieres
Turner International India Private Limited today announced plans to relaunch HBO Hits as HBO HD, the high definition version of HBO in India, subject to regulatory approvals. In January 2015, Turner had assumed full operational responsibility including content acquisition, programming, distribution, advertising sales and marketing, for the HBO channel in India and other South Asia markets namely Maldives, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
HBO Hits will be rebranded as HBO HD from 2016, subject to regulatory approvals. This will make the high definition HBO movie experience, currently available only to premium audiences, accessible to a far wider audience base in India. HBO Defined will no longer be available in India from 31 December 2015.
With the expansion of its English entertainment portfolio that includes WB and now HBO, Turner plans to keep the on-going commitment to invest in the HBO channels, and has recently completed a pan-India consumer research to better understand its audience and how it can best meet their expectations. The results of this initiative will be visible on-air soon, with a HBO brand refresh.
Siddharth Jain, SVP and Managing Director of Turner International, South Asia, said: “With the inclusion of the HBO channels, the Turner portfolio houses some of this region’s biggest and best-loved brands in English entertainment. We will lead the HBO channel operations in India capitalizing on the enormous synergies and experience we have in managing industry leading networks. We are excited to bring our first high definition offering, HBO HD to Indian viewers. Come Q1 2016, the viewers will get to see a more glitzy and invigorated HBO. Do stay tuned for more on that.”
Under Jain’s leadership, who oversees the Turner International portfolio in South Asia, programming and marketing for the HBO channels will be managed by Rohit Bhandari; advertising sales and distribution will continue to be led by Juhi Ravindranath and Kishan Cheranda respectively.
The HBO channel continues to reign and entertain viewers in South Asia with the best and latest of Hollywood blockbuster premieres along with popular hit films spanning primarily the action, adventure and romantic comedy genres.
A new show that will unravel the mystery behind stories of the supernatural
IBN7 is all set to bring a new show for its viewers ‘Suspense’ starting 21st November, 2015 - the upcoming series will use a scientific prism to look at stories of the supernatural that belie any logical explanation.
The pilot episode of the series will feature the reincarnation story of a boy from Agra who claims that he can identify his family from his previous birth; he also states that he was murdered in his previous life and that he can identify the people who murdered him. The series will further telecast episodes on the Bhangarh Fort, Bhopal’s Haunted Haveli and Bihar’s Ara Hotel Suspense etc. – all places that have long been infamous for being haunted.
Commenting on the show, Sumit Awasthi, Deputy Managing Editor – IBN7, said “There are many myths and stories about supernatural occurrences that abound in the country – these stories normally generate a lot of interest and indeed even fear in people. It is important thus to apply the principles of logic and science to get to the bottom of these fear inducing mysteries - which is precisely what we would attempt to do with our show”
Tune in to IBN7 to watch ‘Suspense’ every Saturday @ 9:30 PM and Sunday @ 8:30PM.