By: Dr. Ahmed Hezzah, Director Digital Customer, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East

The advancement of digital technologies and the new possibilities they have created have dramatically reshaped customer behaviors and expectations, and the pace of change is only increasing. Customer interactions are evolving rapidly, the number of communication channels has exploded, and customers expect to engage across them seamlessly. As today’s customers segment themselves into tribes that share common mindsets and goals rather than age, gender or socioeconomic factors, businesses in all industry segments are experimenting with creating new human-centric experiences to better engage their customers, create higher value for them, and thus achieve much faster growth and better ROI.

So why does Customer Experience actually matter for Digital Transformation?

According to Forrester, “to succeed in today’s digital environment, firms must deliver smarter, more-customer-centric interactions that feel like they were tailored for each user and his or her specific set of circumstances”. To achieve this, companies aim to engage consumers actively in the process of innovation, brand marketing and product development, thus offering them more relevant products and services, and most importantly more personalized customer experiences.

But what does Customer Experience really mean?

There are mainly three primary elements that contribute to and influence the outcome that we call Customer Experience:

  • Product Benefits: all the features and benefits of the product to create customer value, typically driven by different factors like product design, usability, or pricing strategy. However, a great product alone does not necessarily guarantee for a great experience.
  • Customer Expectations: companies must understand the wants and needs of the people they want to attract to buy a product or a service and try to positively influence them, for example through advertising, media, or friends and family members.
  • Interactions: This refers to the communication between a customer and a company over different online and offline channels. Every interaction with a customer is a chance to connect with them, delight them, and increase their retention and advocacy. Interactions can also drive customer behavior and set their expectations for future communication with other companies too. Digital interactions can be enhanced by supporting components like User Experience (UX) design, sales and service capabilities, distribution channels, logistics and fulfillment, etc.

These three elements combined shape the way customers perceive a company, a brand, a product, or a service. It is therefore very important that companies ensure that a positive Customer Experience is at the very heart of their Digital Transformation strategy, so customers build brand loyalty and affinity, prioritize the company’s product or service, and refer their friends or leave positive reviews, which will help the business retain revenue and earn new customers.

Developing and delivering a holistic customer-centric digital strategy is not an easy task, and many companies tend to manage digital initiatives in ways that take the form of projects or are limited to activities within a given division or function. Leading companies that want to move away from that tendency need to develop a digital mindset by which a company’s digital activities, people, culture, and structure are aligned with the organization’s broad ambition.

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