On the heels of the great digital shift in 2020, with more and more businesses having to transform their business models in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience economy has become more important than ever before. The concept of the experience economy is certainly not a new one, and intelligent enterprises have long understood that customer experiences, not products or services, are the main competitive differentiators for brands and businesses. In a 2018 Gartner Customer Experience Survey, 2019 was declared the year that experience would overtake product and price as a strategic focus for businesses and the biggest driver for success. Positive, hyper-personalised experiences have now taken centre stage as consumers find themselves largely isolated from human interaction and traditional customer experiences. As companies are seeking new levels of customer engagement and digital transformation, a new approach to winning in the experience economy can be found in SAP’s Customer Experience solution.
What is the experience economy?
In a world saturated with products and services, forward-thinking businesses realised the significance of customer experiences. A 1998 article in Harvard Business Review titled ‘Welcome to the Experience Economy’, marked the beginning of the transition from selling services to selling experiences. In an analogy explaining the difference between services and experiences, the author describes an episode in the old TV series, Taxi, where an eager cab driver named Iggy, in his quest to become the best cab driver in the world, serves sandwiches and drinks, gives tours of the city and even sings Frank Sinatra songs to his customers. “By engaging passengers in a way that turned an ordinary cab ride into a memorable event, Iggy created something else entirely - a distinct economic offering. The experience of riding in his cab was more valuable to his customers than the service of being transported by the cab - and in the TV show, at least, Iggy’s customers happily responded by giving bigger tips” writes the author.
The experience then should be an inherently memorable and personal event that overshadows the external commodities, goods or services. Key to achieving this is understanding what your customers want and creating a participative connection with them through innovative technology like the SAP Customer Experience solution.
How is the experience economy changing the way we do business in 2021?
Now that we understand how important a customer-centric business model is, how do we adapt it to meet the new demands of consumers who have become increasingly dependent on digital platforms as a result of the global pandemic? The experience economy is rapidly evolving to become even more customer-centric and more reliant on experience data.
Marc Emert, Customer Experience Solutions Specialist at SAP, suggests that transparency, honesty and meaningful, hyper-personalised dialogue with customers is integral to protecting customer relationships and harnessing the power of the experience economy in 2021. Being easily accessible to your customers is also an important factor; “[…] you need to be sure that the customer can contact you via the channel of their choice – whether this is a contact centre, e-mail, social media or another channel. Furthermore, customers today do not want to wait; they demand service on a 24/7/365 basis,” he says. With a focus on customer experience technology, Emert adds, “This, in turn, creates the challenge of maintaining a single view of the customer across a multichannel engagement. The only way to succeed here is to implement software that allows you to ingest data from multiple sources. Technology is also the answer to delivering another increasingly in-demand option, namely self-service.”
One of the challenges emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is that consumers have become increasingly impatient, especially during lock-down periods. This added pressure on businesses takes the on-demand element of online shopping and e-commerce organisations to a whole new level. A brand new customer base has now also entered the digital realm in search of convenient and speedy shopping experiences. Managing this spike in demand requires companies to leverage and unify their operational and experience data on a single source of truth and analyse it for actionable insights that help build stronger and more personalised relationships with customers to ensure that they don’t jump ship to competitors. Even if a retailer is slower at delivering goods, regular communication with customers about the status of their delivery and efforts to create a deeper sense of engagement with them throughout the process goes a long way towards brand loyalty in the experience economy.
Emert goes on to say, “For me, the real key to customer-centricity lies in building a relationship and forming a bond with each customer. If you can provide them with a sense of security and deeper personalization, they will likely remain with you, even if your delivery speeds are potentially slower than your competitors. Customers today are, after all, seeking a deeper sense of engagement with their suppliers.”
“What businesses need, therefore, is a platform that collects the data and unifies the customer profile, bringing together both structured or transactional data and unstructured data such as that found on social media sites. This will mean they can build a unified customer profile that enables them to both understand the client better, as well as engage and serve them more effectively.”
“Looking to what the future of customer service holds, the simple answer is that data will only become even more important moving forward. Not only will you and your competitors all be vying for the same information, but the legislative and compliance issues around consumer privacy are clearly also going to increase. So the answer to effective customer-centricity lies in having the right platform that can help you gather as much data as you can, but in a compliant, transparent and ethical manner – I believe this will be how organisations differentiate themselves in this space in the near future,” he concludes.
How is SAP Customer Experience suite contributing to the experience economy?
The most meaningful customer experiences are informed by data-driven context that businesses need to capture, analyse, understand and use effectively. Using SAP Customer Experience Solutions, you will be able to convert data into personalised experiences and push critical insights across channels to shape the customer journey, all informed by real-time context and customer preferences.
Additionally, SAP Customer Experience Solutions make data privacy and security a core aspect of the digital consumer experience in order to meet growing compliance requirements and to put consumers’ trust and privacy concerns to rest.
Benefits of SAP Customer Experience Solutions
Get the most out of your data to create captivating experiences that increase customer retention and send profits through the roof. Here are a few more benefits you can expect from SAP Customer Experience Solutions:
- Improved customer experience: Give your contact center reps and field service technicians an eagle’s eye view of customers so they can deliver hyper-personalised customer experiences and resolve issues quickly.
- Increased customer retention: Wow your customers with hyper-personalised service that wins loyalty.
- Run real-time analytics: Identify the best offers, the right timing, and the optimal channel to reach your customers up to the minute.
- Higher sales revenue: Boost pipeline visibility and sell more with integrated tools for sales force automation, lead management, forecasting, cross-selling, e-commerce, and more.
- Greater process efficiency: Help your sales, marketing, and service teams accomplish more with less effort by taking advantage of automated processes and scheduled follow-up prompts.
- Work smarter across the board: Seamlessly share information across teams, departments, and internal and external stakeholders to better serve customers at every touchpoint.