Com­pa­nies turn up the ‘cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence’ ex­perts

Finweek English Edition - - IN BRIEF - BY JES­SICA HUB­BARD ed­i­to­rial@finweek.co.za

Never be­fore have com­pa­nies so feared their cus­tomers. As count­less ex­am­ples have demon­strated, one fu­ri­ous tweet or in­dig­nant Face­book post can spark a firestorm that even the most skilled public re­la­tions team can­not con­tain.

In­deed, in the era of so­cial me­dia and in­creas­ingly vo­cal con­sumers, com­pa­nies a re ar­guably tread­ing more care­fully than ever be­fore. They are plac­ing greater em­pha­sis on ‘the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence’, with an eye not only on their rep­u­ta­tions and brand eq­uity, but also on the bot­tom line. Re­search has demon­strated that it is six to seven times more costly to at­tract a new cus­tomer than it is to re­tain an ex­ist­ing cus­tomer − and that when com­pa­nies en­gage and re­spond to cus­tomer ser­vice re­quests over so­cial me­dia, those cus­tomers end up spend­ing 20% to 40% more money with the com­pany (Bain & Com­pany).

Glob­ally, com­pa­nies have been de­vot­ing ma­jor re­sources to en­hanc­ing their cus­tomer en­gage­ment and ser­vices, and ap­point­ing ‘cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence’ ex­perts who are de­voted to im­prov­ing a nd main­tain­ing t he cor po­rate / con­sumer re­la­tion­ship and in­ter­ac­tions. Deb­bie Good­man-Bhyat, CEO of Jack Ham­mer Ex­ec­u­tive Head­hunters, notes that while lo­cal com­pa­nies have been slow to catch on, they are also be­gin­ning to re­cruit ‘spe­cial­ists’ in the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence domain.

Ac­cord­ing to her, there has been a marked in­crease in com­pa­nies seek­ing pro­fes­sion­als to take on lead­er­ship roles in the area of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, “due to com­pa­nies recog­nis­ing their fail­ure to ad­e­quately ad­dress the changed cus­tomer en­gage­ment land­scape”.

While in the re­cent past, pro­fes­sion­als in charge of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence were picked for their ‘ soft skills’ such as mar­ket­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and even sales ex­per­tise. Now, how­ever, the job spec looks quite dif­fer­ent.

“As we see the ‘cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence’ role emerge at a more se­nior ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment l evel, t he ad­di­tional skills re­quired are largely tech­ni­cal, with a stronger fo­cus on big data and tech­nol­ogy-re­lated trans­for­ma­tion pro­grammes,” ex­plains Good­man-Bhyat.

In­deed, the em­pha­sis on tech­ni­cal and an­a­lyt­i­cal skills is in­dica­tive of the way in which com­pa­nies are be­gin­ning to em­brace Big Data and busi­ness in­tel­li­gence in or­der to bet­ter serve their cus­tomers.

Michael Abra mow, direc­tor of strat­egy and in­sight at Or­a­cle, high­lights in Or­a­cle’s Profit pub­li­ca­tion that “if you want to win cus­tomers, you need to know them as in­di­vid­u­als. You need to har­ness and quickly an­a­lyse all of the data at your dis­posal, from within your or­gan­i­sa­tion and be­yond, to make smarter pre­dic­tions about their needs and be­hav­iours.”

Re­searc h has demon­strated that it is

six to seven

times more costly to

at­tract a ne w cus­tomer

than it is to re tain an ex­istin g

cus­tomer .

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