• Julio Hernandez, Leadership |

By now, we’ve all seen the headlines stating that the COVID-19 lockdown helped accelerate the adoption of digital by 10 years in the space of a few months. At the same time, the pace and the degree of digital engagement has resulted in more discerning and demanding customers, accustomed to the ease and convenience of digital experiences. We live in the age of the customer. And the trends we’re seeing suggest that customer experience – underpinned by digital means – will continue to be at the forefront of competitive differentiation. With that in mind, there are three priority areas leaders need to pay attention to:

It’s less about the ‘what’ and more about the ‘where’

At KPMG, we talk about the six pillars of experience excellence. These are the things – integrity, time and effort, resolution, expectation, personalization and empathy – that articulate what the DNA of a good customer experience addresses. They comprise the ‘what’ of customer experience and they remain relevant today, as they have in the past. What has changed dramatically, however, is ‘where’ the customer experience is being delivered because of the omni-presence of digital engagement models. We believe the digitally powered interactions and engagement models will continue to be extremely relevant even after the pandemic.

Going forward, we believe that digitally transformed companies can gain and maintain competitive advantage when they align their front, middle and back office to deliver on the organization’s customer promise and value proposition and do so economically and profitably.

Understanding who your company wants to win with

The companies that seem to be getting customer experience right have a crystal-clear understanding of who their winning customers are today and who they would like to win with in the future. They have deep insights into their likes, habits, preferences, needs and value. These companies clearly understand who they want to win with and why.

In addition, customer experience leaders are increasingly embracing being purpose-led. This trend is aligned with our research that shows that purpose increasingly matters to costumers and consumers. Collectively, we’re moving away from a time when customers would buy from an entity into an era where customers are buying into the entity.

Leadership teams will need to respond accordingly and be prepared to answer some difficult questions. For example: Do you truly understand what your brand represents? Is your experience aligned to your brand and what your customers value? Are you developing the right products for them and are you meeting them where they are at? Ultimately, it’s about developing products and services customers will value and delivering them with the right experience – while doing it profitably.

The phenomenon of transferable experiences

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, improving customer experience levels in one industry can lead to increased expectations in another. People tend to transfer experiences across industries and into new segments where they engage and interact. For example, if someone has a delightful, one push-button experience with a flower shop, they will start to question why they can’t have that same level of service at their dentist’s office or their mechanic’s garage. With so many global companies investing heavily in digital transformation and customer experience, even if they are in vastly different businesses than yours, the wholesale rise in costumer expectations and experiences will have implications for your business and the way you should interact with customers.

The massive adoption of digital we’ve witnessed might be a byproduct of the pandemic, but it will likely be here to stay, long after COVID-19 eventually fades away. The organizations that thrive will be those that cultivate a deep understanding of their customers, are able to successfully embrace and adopt ‘everywhere’ models and elevate customer experience to a key strategic imperative.

Throughout this blog, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”), each of which is a separate legal entity.

KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee and does not provide services to clients. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.