Innovation edge in customer experience getting tougher: Gartner

  • Any great idea will be quickly adopted by the industry, it’s a commodity
  • Yet companies must continue to innovate – but do it faster and better
Innovation edge in customer experience getting tougher: Gartner

IT may seem a no-brainer: Innovation is the key to deliver good customer experience. But the truth is, this is easier said than done.
Maintaining the innovation edge in customer experience is becoming increasingly challenging, according to a senior analyst from Gartner Inc.
“The problem is that ... this area of innovation [customer experience] is becoming a commodity. Whenever you have an idea, within … months, everyone else in the industry will be using the same idea,” Gartner research director Olive Huang (pic above) told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur.
“It is very difficult to improve customer experience because your competition is learning very fast. What was very good yesterday will become a commodity today,” she added.
Huang, who is based in Australia, was in Kuala Lumpur to talk to customers about how to run a successful ‘customer engagement hub’ project.

READ ALSO: Customer experience: Innovate or suffer consequences, says IDC
Innovate faster
Despite this challenge, companies should not take their feet off the innovation pedal. In fact, Huang said the only way to overcome this challenge is to continue to innovate, but to also do it better and faster.
“Also, companies have to put a lot of emphasis on their people, because it is people who will be delivering the ‘beyond expectations’ experience,” she said.
However, it would not be an easy task for companies to ensure that their employees deliver good customer experiences. Customer service employees must be made to understand the importance of doing so.
Besides high levels of employee engagement, employees need to be empowered to go the extra mile to deliver a ‘wow’ customer experience, said Huang.
“The sense of belonging and sense of ownership are two aspects that impact employee engagement, and Gartner estimates that no more than 1% of organisations achieve this highest level of maturity in employee engagement in their customer service functions,” she added.
Huang said that in the digital era, organisations are facing a much more complex customer service environment due to higher volumes of interaction from an increased number of channels and touch points.
“Through technology, the organisation can increase service efficiency but there is a challenge to implementing effective measures to improve the engagement level of employees, which can lead to better customer service,” she said.
The right balance

Innovation edge in customer experience getting tougher: Gartner

While innovation can help companies improve sales and operating efficiencies, as well as lower costs, companies that focus too much on short-term goals may find their long-term results hurting, Huang warned.
“A lot of innovation starts from organisations wanting to reduce human intervention – such moves would result in cost savings.
“We see that a lot of companies which are using innovation to improve their business only want immediate results. They want to sell more, and save more.
“The problem is that companies don’t really measure customer experience. All they focus on is short-term benefits, which may hurt long-term customer experience,” she added.
Huang said that the profits a company makes today is ‘history,’ while a good customer experience represents its future profits.
“Therefore, companies need to find a balance between achieving short-term goals and customer experience goals,” she added.
Huang noted that there are many metrics to measure customer experience and engagement. These include customer effort score, delivery timeliness, product return rate, the number of support requests, and others.
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