Building the customer experience for the fickle consumer
Over the last 20 years or so of working in the B/OSS space, one of the most common refrains has been the need for service providers to show more agility, in particular to be able to shorten the product launch cycle and release new offerings to market much more quickly. Although I would hesitate to declare that this problem has been solved, we now see providers that can respond in hours to new competitive offers.
However, although speed to market may deliver a first-mover advantage, any advantage is likely to be increasingly short-lived unless it is backed up by an exceptional customer experience, particularly as service providers look to exploit new revenue opportunities in digital services.
Often when we talk about customer experience, we think about what happens in the call centre but, the real goal is to ensure that every aspect of the customer interaction is designed to make it easy for the customer and to not give that customer any reason for defecting to a rival.
Let’s take a simple example to illustrate the point. A few months back I had barely five minutes before I’d have to switch my tablet to airplane mode for a lengthy flight home. I remembered at the last moment that I’d downloaded the last episode of a mini-series to my tablet, but needed to purchase the next series. I quickly navigated to my usual site to make the purchase only to receive a message that my credit card on file had expired, and worse, that I had to call customer service to receive assistance with my order. Short on time, I didn’t make the purchase and I had to resign myself to watching a movie from the airline’s in-flight entertainment system.
In the couple of minutes before we departed, I searched the web to see if I could buy the same content elsewhere and quickly found a number of alternative providers. Although I didn’t have time to sign up there and then, I revisited these sites later and signed up with a new provider that not only offered the mini-series I was looking for, but also a host of other customer-friendly features.
The customer experience offered by my new provider is far superior and, so far, has meant I have not needed to look elsewhere.
The new provider gave me much more flexibility over payment methods by offering a full e-wallet capability which allowed me to link my account to a couple of credit cards, as well as a PayPal account (or, to my regular monthly communications bill). If the provider had offered this capability then they would have saved the original sale and I would most likely still be a customer.
It also offers helpful features such as mobile payment preferences for one-tap ordering and an interface that works seamlessly across my tablet, my mobile phone, my Smart TV and even my son’s games console.
Another useful feature is the ability to store any of the purchased content in a cloud-based digital locker. This makes it much easier to manage my viewing as I switch between tablet, phone and TV at home and means I don’t have to worry about downloading everything I might want to watch before leaving home.
Together these features all combine to create a first-rate customer experience which has made it much less likely that I’ll be looking to change providers any time soon.
Was I a fickle consumer in this scenario? Absolutely – but so are all of your customers. We live in an instant gratification society when it comes to content, and when there are so many options for consumers to choose to purchase the same content, the customer experience that you provide in those three minutes before a flight might make all the difference.
Author is David Heaps, senior vice president of corporate strategy, CSG International