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Unlocking customer loyalty - the challenge of experience across the whole enterprise

Erwin-Paul Bouma Profile picture for user Erwin-Paul Bouma October 24, 2023
Summary:
The latest research from ServiceNow shows that customer loyalty can shift quickly if the experience doesn't connect with their needs. Erwin-Paul Bouma breaks down the findings with an example from Manchester Airport Group.

Many Heads Connected with a Door © nomadsoulphotos - Canva.com
(© nomadsoulphotos - Canva.com)

It’s easy to assume that if you want to improve an area of your business — be it customer service, the employee experience, or product innovation — you need to focus on that area specifically. But in doing so, you may actually be doing yourself a disservice.

Experience is perhaps the most pertinent example out of these. In an environment where digital transformation has brought all parts of the organization closer together and softened the barriers between business units, those looking to drive loyalty and foster a better customer experience need stop focusing on specific areas or departments and start looking at the greater whole.

Recent developments make a holistic approach even more important. Research by ServiceNow and Opinium found three quarters (76%) of customers in EMEA are less loyal to brands now than they were two years ago, and that puts far more pressure on businesses to deliver stand-out experiences that can retain — or win back — customers. However, doing this without taking into account both the employee and customer experience likely to prove ineffective: it’s like making a decision with only half the facts you need to hand.

How experience can drive customer loyalty

The stats above show that organizations today aren’t guaranteed customer loyalty. Given many organizations can’t afford to slash prices and drive customer loyalty on price alone, working out exactly what your customers value most — and how you can provide that — is key.

To help achieve this, organizations should look at their data capabilities to ensure they’re making truly informed, holistic decisions. Understanding your customer and employing the right solutions both require access to the right information about them — and that in turn necessitates a high level of visibility across operations.

This joined-up approach is just as important when it comes to the employees on the ground floor who really deliver that experience. It makes sense that when all employees are given the right information, tools and support, they’re best able to help customers. It’s the scale of ‘joining up’ that has changed: because modern processes are so often interlinked in one, large ecosystem. To improve one area, you need to look to improve them all.

Embracing a joined-up experience

You might be thinking, “haven’t we already been doing this?”, and the answer is yes — to a point. ServiceNow research found 69% of 1,000 executives have modernized their IT platforms to allow for a more joined up employee and customer experience. This is a great start, but in order to reallybenefit from the approach, we need to take things a step further.

Part of this is really getting your workforce on board. The same ServiceNow survey mentioned above shows the biggest barrier to success when embracing this mindset is employee resistance to change: though 42% of organizations have provided staff with the necessary technology and data to get started, only 10% of it has proved effective. This resistance to change isn’t just wasting money, it’s actively putting organizations at a disadvantage when it comes to driving customer loyalty.

Prioritizing both customer and employee experience isn’t just conjecture — we’ve seen the results first hand. When challenged to meet the demands of post-pandemic travel in 2022, Manchester Airport Group (MAG) had to recruit, onboard, and train 1,500 new team members. On top of that, they had to do it quickly and efficiently, or risk a negative customer experience caused by staff shortages or a poorly equipped workforce. To do this, they used automation technology that removed complexity from operations, reduced the need for manual tasks, and sped up the onboarding process by 41%.

This kind of intervention in the back end has a knock-on effect on the customer side. Now, visitors to MAG airports are met with a full team of staff who have everything they need to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Making a start on a joined-up experience

It’s no big secret — customers want to do business with organizations that provide an excellent experience. Business leaders who choose to invest in experience across all processes are best positioned to combat the impact of the ongoing customer loyalty crisis.

Getting started doesn’t have to involve a total strategy or system overhaul. For many organizations, it’s as simple as looking at your problem areas. Which operations can be streamlined? How can you make sure staff have everything they need? Where can we increase efficiency? By improving operations in the back end, it’s possible to improve the entire experience in a way that benefits the customer directly.

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