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Closing the Customer Experience Gap

In the experience economy, great products and services are no longer enough to keep customers loyal.  Best-run businesses know that feelings matter and brands live or die by the experiences they deliver. The problem is that eighty per cent of CEOs believe they offer a superior customer experience, but only eight per cent of customers agree.

Closing that experience gap between what customers expect and what they get is challenging business leaders everywhere.

So, what causes this gap?  One reason is not providing omni-channel experiences that allow customers to interact how and when they want.  Another is when a company’s demand-to-supply chain is broken so it can’t deliver on its promises to customers. But the most critical reason is when a company doesn’t pay attention to what customers are saying, or when and where they’re saying it.

We estimate this is a US$1.6 trillion (AUD$2.36 trillion) problem globally, because frustrated people will look elsewhere for better experiences. But we have a few recommendations to help you close the gap.

Listen and understand

To fulfil customer expectations, you first need to know what they expect and what they feel when they interact with you. There are many ways to improve experiences but knowing where to start—what will have the most impact—is often the first challenge a business leader faces.

To understand who your customers are and what they prioritise most, you need to bring together your operational data (O-data) and experience data (X-data). O-data is what happened, such as sales reports, marketing campaign data, and customer service logs, while X-data is feedback about what customers were thinking and feeling before, during and after interactions with your brand.  

Consider this scenario about a customer buying an appliance and ask yourself how much you would know about how the customer felt at each point:

  • They made a purchase, but what motivated them to buy: price, product or both?
  • They checked out the offer on your app, but found it hard to use so turned to your website.
  • They were looking for more product information but couldn’t find any.
  • When they reach your support centre, they’re on hold for ten minutes and a staff member is rude.

The key to knowing where to start is to gather customer feedback, then identify where the major points of pain or delight align with what customers say they value most, and how your operations are performing at each point.  Bringing together this X- and O-data helps you monitor all customers interactions to spot the best improvement opportunities and make decisions based on fact and feeling.

Continuous improvement

Armed with this deeper insight you can find more ways to engage and delight customers at every touchpoint with an end-to-end experience tailored to their interests. You can provide more personalised, contextualised experiences that aren’t intrusive, building trust by delivering exactly what customers want and respecting their data. You can even predict what they might want or do next based on previous interactions. But most importantly, you can let them know you value their feedback and use it to continuously improve the sales, marketing, commerce and service experiences you deliver.

The X and the O

 SAP Experience Management helps organisations gather and evaluate X- and O-data that supports experiences of customers, vendors, suppliers and employees. By building this insight into business operations on an ongoing basis, you can increase sales and profitability through improved customer acquisition and retention, increased brand awareness and equity, and reduced service costs.

Experiences are measured in moments. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to engage, or fail, a customer. If you can’t see those moments, you won’t know which matter and you’ll never close the gap. With SAP Experience Management you can make every moment matter.

Scott Treller

Executive General Manager - Customer Experience (ANZ) at SAP