The Fu­ture of Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence

We reached out to banks in the re­gion to dis­cuss their cus­tomer-cen­tric mar­ket­ing strate­gies, in par­tic­u­lar to our re­gion

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Content - By Lynn El Bizri | @lnlne

Nine times out of ten, cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence (CX) is the only thing dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing com­pa­nies from one an­other, so it isn’t sur­pris­ing that CX has claimed the num­ber one sta­tus in the pri­or­ity list for busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy lead­ers in 2015 (For­rester). Cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is how cus­tomers feel as they en­gage with a com­pany or brand over time, and as tech­nol­ogy, con­sumer be­hav­ior, and busi­ness mod­els change and evolve, cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is fore­cast to be­come even more im­por­tant and an in­te­gral part of suc­cess­ful busi­ness strate­gies. While busi­ness suc­cess once de­pended solely on de­liv­er­ing re­li­able and high qual­ity prod­ucts or ser­vices to the mar­ket, this is no longer the case. To­day’s con­sumers and in par­tic­u­lar mil­len­ni­als are more in­formed, se­lec­tive, and ex­pect a tai­lored and per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence that aligns with their per­sonal val­ues. They also want to be able to ac­cess prod­ucts and ser­vices from any lo­ca­tion at any time. Busi­nesses must there­fore fo­cus on the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence in their prod­uct/ ser­vice de­sign and busi­ness model in or­der to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them­selves and not lose their cus­tomers or mar­ket share. Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence Man­age­ment is be­com­ing a top strate­gic pri­or­ity for CEOS in the MENA re­gion, ac­cord­ing to Deloitte, and although lead­ing busi­nesses have tra­di­tion­ally in­vested heav­ily in both phys­i­cal and func­tional cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences, in­vest­ments in emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ences are still lack­ing. High qual­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices are in­te­gral, yet to truly stand out, busi­nesses will need to build and over­lay their ex­ist­ing cus­tomer jour­ney with an emo­tional one by adding a gen­uine hu­man facet to their brand while fo­cus­ing on hon­esty and rel­e­vance.

To sur­vive the fu­ture, how­ever, busi­nesses will need to adapt to an ever-chang­ing cus­tomer base, re­spond to shifts in busi­ness-con­sumer dy­nam­ics, as well as em­brace trends and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in our con­stantly evolv­ing dig­i­tal land­scape.

Mar­ket­ing for Mil­len­ni­als

Ac­cord­ing to Forbes, the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion is the largest in his­tory, rep­re­sent­ing $600 bil­lion in spend­ing op­por­tu­nity. In ad­di­tion to rep­re­sent­ing a grow­ing por­tion of con­sumer spend, mil­len­ni­als are also set­ting the new cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence stan­dards and shap­ing the in­vest­ments for the fu­ture of many in­dus­tries. Be­ing a de­mo­graphic that was raised on the In­ter­net, mil­len­ni­als are tech-savvy, in­de­pen­dent, so­cially con­nected and have high ex­pec­ta­tions, at­tributes that busi­nesses and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions should take ad­van­tage of to at­tract mil­len­ni­als to their prod­ucts and ser­vices. Know­ing that mil­len­ni­als are the ‘In­ter­net gen­er­a­tion’, brick and mor­tar busi­nesses such as re­tail­ers and banks must have an on­line pres­ence and in­vest in dig­i­tal­iza­tion and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing or risk be­ing at a com­pet­i­tive dis­ad­van­tage.

On the mo­bile front, mil­len­ni­als rep­re­sent the heav­i­est mo­bile users, spend­ing hours on desk­top and mo­bile in­ter­net plat­forms shop­ping, brows­ing and us­ing so­cial me­dia plat­forms and apps. By im­ple­ment­ing so­cial me­dia com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies, en­sur­ing mo­bile friendly ver­sions of their web­sites and in­vest­ing in mo­bile­fo­cused tech­nolo­gies, brands can drive more traf­fic to their sites and in­crease in­ter­est in their prod­ucts and ser­vices. Om­nichan­nel, in par­tic­u­lar, is a crit­i­cal part of cor­po­rate strat­egy, and re­tail­ers and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions must de­velop a cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence that gives cus­tomers ac­cess to a seam­less and per­son­al­ized ser­vice across ev­ery pos­si­ble touch­point. Although tra­di­tional chan­nels are still im­por­tant, dig­i­ti­za­tion is more quickly adopted in cer­tain ar­eas ver­sus oth­ers, and cus­tomers are spend­ing less time in shops and banks and in­creas­ingly us­ing the in­ter­net and mo­bile plat­forms as their most fre­quent way of in­ter­act­ing with banks and re­tail­ers.

Self-ser­vice and Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence

By 2020, 85% of busi­ness re­la­tion­ships will be man­aged by the cus­tomer with­out any hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, ac­cord­ing to re­search and ad­vi­sory firm Gart­ner. To­day’s mod­ern cus­tomers ex­pect to have ac­cess to ef­fi­cient and speedy self-ser­vice op­tions which they can use to find an­swers to their ques­tions and ac­com­plish tasks them­selves. By mak­ing cus­tomer ser­vice more ac­ces­si­ble, through on­line self-ser­vice tools and AI tech­nolo­gies such as au­to­mated as­sis­tants, brands will not only re­tain their loyal cus­tomers but also im­prove their over­all brand recog­ni­tion.

Thanks to Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (AI) tech­nolo­gies, com­pa­nies no longer have to de­pend on hu­man as­sis­tants to pro­vide cus­tomer sup­port and tackle cus­tomer pain points. With the as­sis­tance of non-hu­man dig­i­tal as­sis­tants, more time can be spent on build­ing cus­tomer re­la­tion­ships and solv­ing tough prob­lems while more re­sources and ca­pac­ity are freed to fo­cus on growth. An­other ma­jor strength of AI lies in its ca­pa­bil­ity to col­lect large ca­pac­i­ties of data at a very high speed, rec­og­nize pat­terns, and learn from them. By col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion about con­sumers’ ac­tiv­i­ties and buy­ing pat­terns, for ex­am­ple, AI can of­fer real-time, highly per­son­al­ized rec­om­men­da­tions to cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to their tastes and pref­er­ences.

Although AI has been around for a while, brands have only re­cently started adopt­ing it for con­sumer ser­vices. Ex­am­ples in­clude bud­get air­line easy­jet which uses AI to an­a­lyze large amounts of con­sumer data, food brand Knorr who used cog­ni­tive tech­nol­ogy to in­ter­act nat­u­rally with con­sumers and de­liver tai­lored recipes in their re­cent cam­paign ‘Love at First Taste’, and Skype which plugged into ma­chine learn­ing to de­liver voice recog­ni­tion and real-time trans­la­tion. While AI is rapidly catch­ing on and be­com­ing the next big thing, busi­nesses must en­sure they strike the right bal­ance be­tween peo­ple-power and tech­nol­ogy to en­sure they are al­ways of­fer­ing high-qual­ity and per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ences.

Data Driven Per­son­al­iza­tion

When asked about his pre­dic­tions for CX in 2016, Vic­tor Mil­li­gan (CMO at For­rester Re­search) stated ‘An­a­lyt­ics is be­com­ing a key com­pet­i­tive weapon. It’s not about mak­ing big data big­ger but mak­ing it more use­ful and able to an­tic­i­pate and de­liver su­per ex­pe­ri­ences to cus­tomers.’ Busi­nesses that make use of cus­tomer an­a­lyt­ics are show­ing a 126% profit im­prove­ment over their com­peti­tors that don’t, ac­cord­ing to re­search by Mckin­sey, and as busi­nesses be­come more and more data-driven, lever­ag­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence an­a­lyt­ics will be cru­cial for pro­vid­ing a seam­less and per­son­al­ized cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and ob­tain­ing com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage.

To­day, re­tail­ers know ex­actly where their cus­tomers are lo­cated, their ac­tions on the site, their past pur­chases and even their next on­line stop, thanks to eas­ily trace­able con­sumer be­hav­ior data. The abun­dant data har­nessed is used by busi­nesses to tai­lor their of­fer­ings and mar­ket­ing mes­sages, evolve and de­velop strate­gies, cre­ate al­go­rithm-based cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences and main­tain and foster stronger cus­tomer re­la­tion­ships. By com­bin­ing busi­ness pro­cesses and cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion (in­clud­ing ex­ter­nal data) on one plat­form, how­ever, busi­nesses can un­der­stand their cus­tomers and their in­tents, and act in real-time on tak­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences to the next level. If lever­aged ef­fec­tively, pre­dic­tive an­a­lyt­ics and data en­able the busi­nesses to de­liver ex­cel­lent cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence by ex­pect­ing rather than sim­ply re­spond­ing to cus­tomers’ needs.

Data should also be used to cre­ate in­di­vid­u­ally tai­lored and con­tex­tu­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ences, as per­son­al­iza­tion of cus­tomers’ dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ences is par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal to a brand’s fu­ture suc­cess. Con­sumers not only ex­pect firms to con­tex­tu­ally un­der­stand who they are, but they also ex­pect them to re­spond to their needs and an­tic­i­pate them. To dif­fer­en­ti­ate, busi­nesses need to be ef­fec­tive at us­ing dif­fer­ent data streams to rec­og­nize and re­spond to the needs of their con­sumers, from big data for over­all trends to mi­cro­data for look­ing at a par­tic­u­lar group or ac­count’s be­hav­ior and their use of a prod­uct or ser­vice.

From a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive, what is be­ing done to en­gage mil­len­ni­als, as they be­come an in­creas­ingly large share of your cus­tomer base? What chan­nels/ strate­gies do you use? Mil­len­ni­als rep­re­sent a grow­ing por­tion of the con­sumer spend and hence are set­ting the new cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence stan­dards, shap­ing the in­vest­ments for the fu­ture of many in­dus­tries in­clud­ing bank­ing and fi­nance. They are dig­i­tally savvy, so­cially con­nected as well as vo­cal, have high ex­pec­ta­tions and want quick and flex­i­ble ac­cess to ser­vices and goods.

Ef­fort­less and en­rich­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing at the cen­ter of our cor­po­rate cul­ture, our dig­i­tal strate­gies are geared to­wards sat­is­fy­ing the ex­pec­ta­tions of this trend­set­ter seg­ment, al­low­ing us to si­mul­ta­ne­ously ed­u­cate more tra­di­tional cus­tomer seg­ments about the con­ve­nience of dig­i­tal chan­nels. While sup­port­ing the shift to dig­i­tal, we care­fully bal­ance our dig­i­tal cus­tomer ser­vic­ing chan­nels

with tra­di­tional brick and mor­tar as well as con­tact cen­ter touch­points to al­low all cus­tomers to choose how they in­ter­act with our com­pany.

We’ve also in­vested in the lead­ing mo­bile wal­let plat­form in the re­gion, Beam Wal­let, as we know that mo­bile is going to be, if not al­ready is, the pre­ferred chan­nel for transactions as well as ser­vic­ing. Beam speaks to these uber con­nected in­di­vid­u­als lever­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy, pay­ments and a loy­alty scheme to­gether in a mo­bile app that al­lows for pay­ment through the Beam app via a bea­con or pay­ment ter­mi­nal in re­tail out­lets for goods and ser­vices. It’s all about choice, con­ve­nience and an ex­cel­lent cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, this is what we stand for.

Are you de­vel­op­ing an omni – chan­nel and seam­less cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence? How do you con­sider phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal ex­e­cu­tion for a holis­tic cus­tomer­centric ex­pe­ri­ence? Our main goal is to cre­ate an ef­fort­less and en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for our cus­tomers due to our branch­less na­ture, and to be present at all pos­si­ble rel­e­vant cus­tomer touch­points when and where our cus­tomers pre­fer or need to in­ter­act with us. Ex­am­ples of this are our pres­ence at Carrefour where cus­tomers can ap­ply for our Najm credit card of­fer­ing 4% cashback at Carrefour, or our om­nichan­nel ser­vic­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. We let our cus­tomers choose which chan­nels they in­ter­act with us dur­ing ev­ery phase of the cus­tomer’s life cy­cle. From ap­pli­ca­tion to ser­vic­ing, from new re­quests to com­plaint res­o­lu­tion, we of­fer many chan­nels for them to use. Tra­di­tional chan­nels are still im­por­tant and dig­i­ti­za­tion is more quickly adopted in cer­tain ar­eas ver­sus oth­ers. To give you an ex­am­ple, we are one of only three fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions that al­low cus­tomers to com­plete the en­tire Easy Pay­ment Plan (EPP) process on­line in a just a few clicks. The over­all ef­fect was a 40 per­cent shift in EPP be­ing

con­verted on­line ver­sus via con­tact cen­ter chan­nel. While adop­tion for this dig­i­tal ser­vice has been amaz­ingly quick, the shift to the on­line chan­nel for ap­pli­ca­tion is much slower as most cus­tomers pre­fer to deal di­rectly with a sales agent.

Do you map cus­tomer jour­neys? May you share any in­sights on be­hav­iors from brick-and-mor­tar to on­line? Un­der­stand­ing how cus­tomers be­have is only one part of the equa­tion, the other is un­der­stand­ing where the be­hav­ior hap­pens and see­ing if there is an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove the jour­ney by merg­ing offline and on­line in­ter­ac­tions. This starts at the point of exposure to our prod­ucts. We marry offline and on­line mile­stones along any par­tic­u­lar jour­ney and con­stantly eval­u­ate which chan­nels are be­ing used. We then adapt as­pects of the jour­ney to save the cus­tomer time or im­prove their over­all ex­pe­ri­ence. For ex­am­ple, if a po­ten­tial cus­tomer sees an ad­ver­tise­ment in­side Carrefour for one of our cashback credit cards, their ap­pli­ca­tion jour­ney can start phys­i­cally in the store via a Di­rect Sales Agent or through an SMS short code for a lead call via our Tele­sales Agents or dig­i­tally with an on­line ap­pli­ca­tion, as they re­ceive an in­stant link to our on­line ap­pli­ca­tion form.

In our on­line ap­pli­ca­tion jour­ney, cus­tomers can choose a com­pletely dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence from com­plet­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, to on­line doc­u­ment sub­mis­sion, omit­ting the need to in­ter­act with any­one phys­i­cally to be­come a card mem­ber. It is all about con­ve­nience for the cus­tomer, the jour­ney should suit their needs in any sce­nario.

What’s the power of mo­bile in the con­sumer’s jour­ney? Are you able to share stats on the amount of transactions con­ducted on mo­bile? Mo­bile is a per­va­sive part of our lives, and we aim to shift our ser­vices pre­dom­i­nantly to­wards mo­bile chan­nels

to give our cus­tomers full self-ser­vice ca­pa­bil­ity at their pre­ferred time. We also think of the mo­bile ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing all phases of the cus­tomer life­cy­cle – from hav­ing an op­ti­mized web­site to hav­ing fea­tures like in­ter­ac­tive SMS, mo­bile pin ac­ti­va­tion and a ded­i­cated app, My­najm, where they have a com­plete 360 view of their ac­count. Mov­ing for­ward, we are ex­pand­ing into deeper in­te­gra­tion within so­cial me­dia and mo­bile chan­nels (i.e. What­sapp for cus­tomer ser­vic­ing).

How­ever, mo­bile is not only about cus­tomer fac­ing chan­nels, but can be used to im­prove the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence in a holis­tic man­ner. All of our sales agents in the field are equipped with mo­bile de­vices that are linked to our cloud­based cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship man­age­ment sys­tem, al­low­ing them to in­stantly up­date their in­ter­ac­tions with cus­tomers in a con­tin­u­ous feed­back loop to im­prove the over­all level of ser­vice they ex­pe­ri­ence. We know what ac­tions a par­tic­u­lar prospec­tive or cur­rent cus­tomer have taken and the sta­tus. This al­lows us to have more in­tel­li­gent in­ter­ac­tions and the abil­ity to know our cus­tomer and an­tic­i­pate the need can only hap­pen when you en­able an in­te­grated mo­bile ex­pe­ri­ence at all touch­points with cus­tomers.

Have you de­vel­oped lead gen­er­a­tion and/or con­ver­sion based mar­ket­ing strate­gies? How do you con­sider per­va­sive an­a­lyt­ics, real-time mar­ket­ing and ad­vanced mul­ti­chan­nel in­te­gra­tion in your strat­egy? Our vi­sion is to move from mass or seg­mented mar­ket­ing to one-to-one mar­ket­ing. We look at be­ing able to mi­cro seg­ment our cus­tomers as an es­sen­tial tool in cre­at­ing pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences. We lever­age the power of an­a­lyt­ics and use data-driven in­sights to de­liver a more per­son­al­ized dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence to both our prospects and cus­tomers alike. We strive to de­liver rel­e­vant mes­sages based on data com­piled for each of our cus­tomers at the right time, via their pre­ferred chan­nel. This is a con­tin­u­ous process that gets re­fined with ev­ery trans­ac­tion they make. We want to know what mo­ti­vates them and give them the types of of­fers and in­for­ma­tion that is rel­e­vant to their lives.

Ex­ten­sive use of mul­ti­vari­ate test­ing and ad­vanced seg­men­ta­tion al­lows us to fur­ther op­ti­mize this finely tuned dig­i­tal ex­pe­ri­ence. Early on in our busi­ness, we in­vested in build­ing strong data ware­house ca­pa­bil­i­ties. This now forms a cen­tral repos­i­tory of rich gran­u­lar data col­lected from users across all our touch points and gives us the abil­ity to use an­a­lyt­ics to scale up and ac­cel­er­ate.

Our ex­per­tise in be­hav­ioral an­a­lyt­ics and sta­tis­ti­cal mod­el­ing nat­u­rally ex­tends to sup­port our lead gen­er­a­tion ac­tiv­ity. We are able to iden­tify po­ten­tial cus­tomers based on their be­hav­ioral pat­terns, both on and offline, de­liver sus­tained rel­e­vant mes­sages through chan­nels that they pre­fer and con­vert them to loyal cus­tomers and pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cates.

What per­cent­age of cus­tomers are ac­tive users of dig­i­tal chan­nels? How has their be­hav­ior changed as they adopted dig­i­tal chan­nels? We have seen cus­tomers read­ily adopt our dig­i­tal chan­nels. Our mo­bile app adop­tion rate is at about 60 per­cent, with 20 to 25 per­cent of cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tions ini­ti­ated via this chan­nel. Cus­tomers pre­fer the dig­i­tal chan­nels and we see that with in­creases in us­age steadily re­duc­ing their re­liance on tra­di­tional sales and cus­tomer ser­vice chan­nels. We ex­pect to see more cus­tomers pre­fer­ring self-ser­vice and on-the-go ac­cess to their ac­counts.

On the so­cial me­dia side our growth rate was around 20 per­cent last year, with the av­er­age for lo­cal fi­nance com­pa­nies at about 12-15 per­cent. Our en­gage­ment rates have also in­creased by 25 per­cent as we have ini­ti­ated de­tailed tar­get­ing and cre­ated rich, rel­e­vant con­tent at the right time and fol­low­ing trends. Through au­to­ma­tion, we have fur­ther im­proved our cus­tomer ser­vice lev­els on so­cial me­dia, re­duc­ing turn­around time and re­sponse rates for cus­tomers. We also use so­cial lis­ten­ing tools to ac­tively seek out cus­tomers and help them.

How­ever, a seg­ment of our cus­tomers pre­fer tra­di­tional chan­nels when it comes to ser­vic­ing. This is why con­tin­u­ing to in­vest in our cus­tomer con­tact cen­ter has been one of our pri­or­i­ties. Najm con­tact cen­ter fol­lows in­ter­na­tional stan­dards and we con­tin­u­ously im­prove sys­tems used which re­sults in time sav­ings for the cus­tomer with­out sac­ri­fic­ing qual­ity of ser­vice. Our lat­est in­vest­ment was in up­grad­ing our In­ter­ac­tive Voice Re­sponse (IVR) sys­tems which al­lows cus­tomers who use their reg­is­tered mo­bile num­ber to be in­stantly rec­og­nized by our sys­tem with­out the has­sle of en­ter­ing credit card de­tails.

As a tes­ta­ment, our call cen­tre has been awarded nu­mer­ous ac­co­lades for ser­vice ex­cel­lence. Re­gard­less of the chan­nel type a cus­tomer chooses, the ex­pe­ri­ence with Najm will be con­sis­tent and ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion is quick and con­ve­nient and with cus­tomer ser­vice al­ways a top pri­or­ity.

“We look at be­ing able to mi­cro seg­ment our cus­tomers as an es­sen­tial tool in cre­at­ing pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ences.”

RASOOL HUJAIR Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer NAJM - UAE

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