Brands that deliver the best customer experiences achieve 54 percent higher revenue growth than brands that are ranked poorly by consumers for their experiences, a recent KPMG report reveals. Since customer experience (CX) is inextricably linked to employee experience (EX), organisations need to transform from within to become customer-centric.

For my second article in "The future of the organisation" article series, I spoke with Richard Hepworth, Partner - Customer & Growth, KPMG in the UK, about transformation in Telecoms, Media & Technology (TMT) organisations through the customer experience perspective. Richard is an expert in customer experience transformation, with over 20 years of experience advising companies on customer experience strategy and helping clients to apply it to their businesses to deliver better results.

Why do you think the customer experience has become a priority for all organisations, not just those in the consumer world?

Customer experience, whether in B2B or B2C, is a key differentiator in a very competitive market. Having researched customer experience of many organisations in the UK and across the globe through Nunwood, we consistently see that the top 10 brands deliver 10 times the revenue growth of the FTSE 100 equivalents. So great customer experience is not only about caring for customers, but it is also important to the bottom line of the business.

We are seeing that the customer experience is actually flowing through into the employee experience organisations are trying to drive. But, what is the link here?

There is now a complete mirroring between the customer experience and what your employees day-to-day experience. We have distilled customer experience down to six pillars. When we look at the six pillars, organisations that perform really well in delivering customer experience, deliver great results for the same metrics in employee experience. For example, customers really value things like ease-of-service, and if employees have the right tools and data available, they can deliver that experience to the customer too. Therefore, there is a complete mirroring between the employee experience and the customer experience.

Six Pillars Theory of Nuwood

Our expectations, as consumers, are now higher with what we experience in the day-to-day business world.

Absolutely. It amazes me to this day, how many times I can go into organisations and ask the employees “Who has a better digital experience in the home vs. the workplace?” The vast majority get a better digital experience in the home as opposed to the workplace. Yet, we spend millions of pounds to improve systems or organisations.

I think the other dimension of this is that for the first time ever we have five generations of customers and five generations in the workplace. Not only do customers expect great digital experience but also employees at their workplaces. Therefore, organisations need to focus on both sides to get the formula right.

What advice would you give to organisations looking at both customer experience and employee experience and developing their investment case for the longer term?

When you complete a customer experience development programme, you must have employee experience embedded at the heart of the program – that is the first thing you need to do. If you get that right, the customer experience will follow.

Too often, we focus very much on the customer and neglect the employee experience. When we look at programs that did not work, many times we see that actually the customer promise externally is greater than what the employees can deliver because they do not have the tools and information to deliver that end-service.

On the other hand, organisations that have improved customer experience in the last five years, have actually had a four times revenue growth as a result of that transformation program. The rewards are quite strong when you get the formula right.

It is worth emphasising, that over the last five years only 15 percent of companies have actually improved their customer experience. They succeeded because they looked at all the aspects of our customer experience six pillars and made sure they addressed every single one to get the formula right. So it is tough. Customers are actually expecting more from organisations. If you get the program right, the rewards do follow.

What do you see as a general trend in the surveys that you have been doing for Telecoms, Media and Technology (TMT) organisations, both serving business customers and consumers like you and I?

We have found that customer experience is actually slightly deteriorating. We believe this is not because organisations are performing worse but customer expectations are increasing. Organisations that are performing at the very high end of the customer experience delivery are continually outperforming everybody else and exceeding expectations of consumers. The rest are now playing catch up against that benchmark.

We did the same survey with B2B customers, and actually, it mirrors B2C very much. The principles are the same - the six pillars still apply to the B2B sector as they do to the B2C. However, the needs of the B2B organisations are different increasingly important in terms of the customer experience design.

If we want to focus on our customer experience, where do we start as an organisation?

Well, you need to really understand what your consumer needs are. Bear in mind that consumers are getting ever more sophisticated and ever more fragmented in their needs. Therefore, understanding those needs, assigning the right customer personas to them when designing the end-to-end customer journey is as important as ever was.

Then you need to start matching that the customer experience design to the employee experience. So you have customer personas and employee personas. You need to match the design of your systems and the customer experience with employee experience design simultaneously, making sure that employees can deliver expectations to their customers, and that they have the tools and devices to do their job effectively and consistently. So you really need to understand customer and employee needs as well as getting that customer-centric and employees design embedded in all your systems and processes.

So as organisations look to embark on an experience improvement programme, what are the pitfalls that they need to avoid?

One of the pitfalls I keep seeing is having great user-design at the start of the program but then not translating that into usability, once live.

I always think your design needs to be sympathetic to the application architecture. It is very important to ensure all the human factors, training and employee readiness are put in place and support is available post go-live stage.

You need to monitor your system all the way through that evolution to make sure the adoption of the new technologies and processes are right and actually performing to the expectations you set at the beginning of the design phase of the project.

So ultimately it is about putting the customer (whether internal or external) at the heart of everything you are doing?

Yes, one of the misnomers is, as we talk a lot about digital technology projects, these are actually all people projects. So we must make sure the people at the heart of it - either customers or employees. We also need to make sure that we understand their needs and they can actually use the systems appropriately. So keep the people in mind at all times whether they are customers or employees. That is the way you will drive success.

So overall, to gain a competitive advantage for TMT organisations it is essential to look at how they can deliver great customer experience. Great customer experience starts from knowing your customers well and empowering employees to. These are the two things companies need to focus when going through transformation.

Our most recent report “Power to the People” explores this in greater depth, and a copy can be found through the link below.

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