Service Transformation

Unifying your customer experience approach

The cloud is making delivery platforms much more agile and customer-centric. How are some of the leading companies using digital technology to enable reimagined customer experiences?

by Nathan Beaver (contact)
2 minute read

The rapid development of digital technology and the impact it has had on customer behaviour has caught many organisations off guard. As it became apparent that successful businesses have to serve their customers in a growing number of ways, whether through new websites, apps or portals, many bolted on extra bits to their legacy IT systems to keep pace. They are now stuck with an unwieldy patchwork of solutions unsuited to the market.

The emphasis today is on flexibility, adaptability and scalability. Can your customers get the experience they want, through the right channel, at the right time? Can they switch seamlessly between these channels? Does your organisation have enough data and the right perspective on that data so you can keep up with changing customer needs?

The first step in the right direction is integration, bringing all your disparate systems together into a single customer experience platform. While a daunting prospect from a technical and operational standpoint, the increasing security and capability of cloud computing makes it easier than ever to build the comprehensive yet flexible systems required.

Laying the foundation

Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, an arm of German insurance company Allianz, is an example of how to make that initial move towards integration. It decided a year ago to build a new customer experience platform. Its customer base consists of corporate clients, which it serves directly, as well as insurance brokers, whose recommendations to clients result in a lot of new business.

The company wanted to dive into each part of the customer journey and identify the real issues driving their decision-making, yet the data it had was incomplete and in multiple formats. Their first step, therefore, was to develop a consistent set of measurements that, but for a few regional tweaks, could give an accurate idea of the customer experience across geographies and among both brokers and clients. This involved representatives from each business function and geography sitting in a room and hammering them out over a weekend.

They then used the resultant standardised survey to link their CRM giving them access to all client and broker CX data on a granular and holistic level. The company can now use this data to analyse the customer journey and offer the customer experience it wants.

The next level

Some businesses have already moved beyond that phase and are reimagining their relationship with their customers. John Deere, the agriculture and construction machinery manufacturer, has sensors in 200,000 of its tractors. The sensors relay data to cloud-based analytics where it is crossed with weather data, satellite imagery and data from other agricultural companies, such as seed producer Monsanto. Farmers can then use the data to understand when they should plant or harvest or the quickest route around their farm, and other related metrics.

Park Hub also uses a cloud-based platform to connect the physical and digital world. The company, which is responsible for managing car parking at a number of large venues in the US, found that often, supply, demand and available resources didn’t match up, resulting in long lines of cars or bored attendants with nothing to do.

Park Hub brought in technology provider Dialexa, which introduced a new platform designed to match people, place and object in the right time context. The platform consisted of a new POS system that accepts credit cards and cash, and a ‘smart hump’. This sophisticated speed bump matches each car that drives over it to the payment transaction and feeds data back to a hub where employees can get an overview of where cars and free spaces can be found. They can then manage their resources and deploy attendants where and when they are required. The system reduced the time taken to process cars from 30 seconds to two to five seconds.

Dollar Shave Club has made a big splash with its model of selling men’s grooming products straight to consumers by mail. But a big part of its efficacy comes from its cloud-based platform, which was designed end-to-end by in-house engineers. Consisting of custom-built cloud-based apps, including a CRM platform, a cross-channel marketing automation platform, order fulfilment software and a machine learning engine, the company has managed to take, what is in many ways an old-fashioned service, and modernise it with a platform that ensures seamless, always-on operations.

The new wave

Though it’s a little early to say what form it will take, the speed of technological change suggests a big new idea is not far away. In the future this could mean virtual reality, but in the more immediate future it is more likely to be the Internet of Things (IoT). It is already popping up as part of the platform ecosystem in the form of remote operated thermostats like Google’s Nest and through products like the Oral-B SmartSeries toothbrush, which is connected by Bluetooth to a smartphone app that monitors your brushing performance.

Whatever the next big thing, an integrated cloud-based platform has the capacity and flexibility to accommodate it.

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