Ideal customer experiences point the way to the future for companies when it’s designed from a company-spanning perspective
※Below is an excerpt from "Perspective II", "ABeam" Public Relations Report 2018-19.
Over the past decade, advances in digital technologies and the spread of mobile technologies have significantly changed the amount and quality of data obtained from customer contact points, as well as its expected value. In the B2C area, marketing measures focused on customer contact points are being implemented for both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores, but have companies focused on B2B caught up with the market’s changes? ABeam Consulting's Miho Mizuno explains the design of the ideal customer experiences (CX) sought by customers.
Principal Head of CRM Sector
P&T Digital Business Unit
The evolution of digital technologies and the importance of customer contact points
As mobile devices have become more widespread, transmission speeds and data collection and processing capabilities have also accelerated. The amount and quality of customer contact point data have undergone significant evolution.
At the same time, analysis tools have become more commonplace, and companies have hired and developed data analysts, creating a foundation for developing customer behavior insights from customer contact point data.
Meanwhile, customers themselves have developed the ability to gather information and share information through social networks and various other communities. Through these processes, they have become less resistant to providing personal data, rather, they would take for granted that the services are tailored to fit better than ever as their preferences are thoroughly understood in advance.
B2C direct sales companies were relatively quick to act on these changes in the business environment. There have also been changes in the behavior of B2B buyers. It is becoming increasingly common for customers to collect information themselves, exchange information with each other, and solidify their purchasing intent before contacting sales companies.
However, sellers’ efforts are still lacking. A number of B2B companies in Japan still are not able to realize appropriate offerings and communications attaching sufficient weight to CX.
Customer contact points are companies'headlights
The era in which all it takes to sell is to make highquality products is over. The ability to provide quality CX has become an even greater source of company competitive power than quality products or services. However, Japanese companies that have experienced success based on their manufacturing place little importance on improving their customer contact points.
In contrast, for American manufacturers, retails, and leading IT service companies, which have long placed importance on marketing functions, CX is a critical investment field that should be discussed at the management level. Start-ups in Asia are also rapidly rolling out attractive CX that leverages digital technologies.
Today, when customers draw in new customers, mutual communication between customers and companies contributes to the capture of latent customers, making it a more important issue than ever.
This is because the varied types of data that can be obtained from customer contact points contain important insights into future environmental changes. Diverse types of information such as web browsing histories, responses to promotional campaigns, and changes in complaints to stores and contact centers can be used as input to read market trends. If one thinks of accounting data as a backlight used to verify results and the past, then customer points can be seen as headlights that light up the future.
A precision equipment manufacturer to which ABeam Consulting provides support has created an online community of engineers that develop products using its parts and experts from product planning divisions. It uses this online community to actively provide information regarding new technological trends and the like. It also provides a platform for customers to share issues and complaints and provide each other with advice.
This contributes to greater customer satisfaction and the capture of latent overseas customers that it was unable to reach in the past. The tremendous amounts of data the company gathers through this contact point are valuable input regarding product development needs,and is fed back to the company’s R&D divisions.
Integrated CX design consistent with business strategies
Many companies say that while they understand the importance of CX and have invested in it, their investments don’t produce results. Making haphazard improvements without a core strategy can result in different departments implementing separate tools, amassing scattered customer data that remains unused.
Let’s look at the three keys to success when creating new CX. The first is consistency with business strategies. Companies need to engage in communications not only through digital customer contact points such as the examples mentioned above, but also in brick-andmortar stores, through sales personnel and service personnel, via contact centers, and in all other customer contact points. These communications cannot consist of scattershot deployment of different initiatives, but must be consistent and based on customer importance and core products and services. Doing so requires a higher level of consistency with business strategies.
The second key is cooperation between related departments. CX is not just the job of marketing departments; it should be handled by all organizations that deal with customer contact points. Fusing ossified or fragmented customer contact points is no easy matter. In some cases, it may require reorganization or changes to business result management methods. This requires upper-level strategies and leadership.
The third key is providing CX in a more broadly defined sense, including partners and customers themselves. In the future, as the ecosystem concept gains a stronger foothold, cooperation will be essential for, of course, partners such as retailers, agents, and business subcontractors, but also outside stakeholders including customers themselves. Infrastructures—both technological and systems—for sharing data outside of companies, are being prepared.
To provide better CX, companies must design integrated customer contact points based on customer handling strategies redefined at the management level and they must implement them throughout their organizations.
We provide total support for the creation of customer contact points in the form of Customer Experience Integration. This Customer Experience Integration encompasses everything from sales strategy formulation to customer analysis, targeting, operation design across multiple channels and departments, and the implementation of IT platforms that support these activities. We hope that companies will work to provide customers with ideal CX through company-wide projects under the leadership of management level personnel with the potential to direct customer strategies.