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Customer Experience Equals Competitive Advantage

Consumer India is expanding. There are many factors that come together to build an economy. One of those is consumer trust. Bad customer experience breaks the trust customers have in brands

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Sitecore in association with BW Businessworld organised ‘Elevate the Experience’ event in Bengaluru, an exclusive event that saw some of the sharpest and brightest minds from the marketing and advertising world gather to discuss the future of brands in the experience economy. Highlights of the event are as follows:

Role of Competitive Advantage

Competition is a zero-sum game. Companies have found various ways to protect and grow their market share. Competitive advantage is what companies look up to tilt the balance in their favour. But the competitive advantage is extremely sensitive to time. Competitive advantage has an expiry date. The means and methods of acquiring competitive advantage change with time. George Smith, Regional MD (the Middle East, India & Africa), Horizontal Integration in his presentation said “In 1976, intangible assets were the only 1/6th of the total value of top 500 companies in the US. Today intangible assets such as brand, patents, software and trademarks add up to 90% of the total value of the top 500 companies”. He further added “in consumer-led industries and countries, it is the intangible things like brand and software that lead to competitive advantage. Using a metaphor from physics he said “95% of the universe is dark matter, something we can’t see. it is kind of the same with the value of businesses now. 90% of it you cannot buy, see and copy. just capital won’t get you there but building that customer experience can help you take on your competition.” Adding clarity and summarizing his point George said: “there are only two choices when you want to build your digital estate, building a tangible website which can be easily copied by your competition or creating a true barrier to entry for your competitors with intangible customer experience.” A good Competitive Advantage is not easily reproducible and acts as a barrier to entry. “It is not something that capital can buy” in the words of George. 

Building Competitive Advantage

It is not always the hard work but also the softer things like shared wisdom and guidance necessary for achieving success in any endeavour. George Smith, Regional MD (Middle East, India & Africa), Horizontal Integration in his analogical best informed the marketers in the audience to watch out for a few things and in his words “to not scale the inefficiencies, to know that it is not just technology that’s important, companies must reorganize their internal structure, companies should break down silos to get the best results from the technology, they should also automate testing of marketing technology and experiment as much as they can .” George further said “the more manual processes you have the less competitive advantage you have. He concluded his comments and brought the attention of the audience to the fact that “India will be the third largest consumer country in the world by 2025. To win in such a large market Indian companies will need scale which can only come from digital investments.” Abhiraj Banerjee, Strategic Business Lead, Sitecore India touched upon the same in his presentation and said “Indian consumers expect high touch customer service. But will Indian brands be able to scale their human marketing and service organization as India becomes the third largest consumer market by 2025? The only way to scale is to adopt digital technologies to move offline enquiries to online self-service channels.”  He further added, “to identify all those who visit your digital estate is crucial to building competitive advantage.” Speaking about Sitecore, Abhiraj said “Sitecore pioneered and truly made available personalized experiences to the Customer experience market way back in 2009. The feature of personalization was subsequently adopted by large companies such as Adobe, IBM & Oracle. But Sitecore remains the pioneer and that is why large brands trust us.” Through some customer success stories, he informed the audience about the importance of building data products and why personalization-based SEM is more superior to non-personalization-based SEM. He showed how customers have relied on the Sitecore platform for business impact.

He said “Cannondale, a cycle manufacturer appeals to hardcore cyclists, but they have so many options such another brands and DIY. Loyalty becomes a challenge when cyclists walk into a shop to find the same kind and style of bikes across brands. To differentiate themselves, Cannondale through their app and website allows their customers to connect to their Garmin devices. Based on this data, Cannondale recommends a product to the cyclist. The user can also find the nearest dealer who can hold that bike. Cannondale also informs the cyclists on how they could be faster on the routes they have taken.” Talking of Toyota, Abhiraj said “Sitecore helped Toyota save on SEM and make it more effective at the same time. Toyota was able to deliver personalized experiences to audiences from different segments in response to Google searches. Adding personalization to the same SEM program, Toyota was able to improve on average duration per page, the check local stock end query point increased 600% and the trailing engagement value went up significantly”. Toyota was able to map segmentation to the content and its presentation with the help of Sitecore.” Pieter Brinkman, Senior Director, Technical Marketing, Sitecore said “The true power for marketing is in combining content and analytics to create relative personalized experiences in real time and on any channel. The golden rule for a meaningful engagement stands the test of time and it continues to be sending the right message to the right audience at the right time.” Introducing Sitecore he added “Sitecore is dedicated to helping organizations become digital-first businesses, creating human connections in a digital world. Our industry-leading digital experience platform empowers you to manage the entire content lifecycle — from planning, creation, collaboration, and management to omnichannel delivery — then measure its effectiveness. As a result, we’re helping brands deliver memorable, personalized experiences that build lifelong relationships.”

Brand Experience Vs Customer Experience

Neeraj Biyani, Co-Founder, Paper Boat (Hector Beverages) in the fireside brought a lot of clarity to the interplay between brand experience and customer experience. He said “Historically, the brand created an aura and that played out significantly in the actual experience of the consumer. This aura of the brand did not shatter for a large target audience even if the actual consumer experience did not withstand the testimony of the brand experience in the pre-consumer internet world. The post-consumer internet world is characterized by a feedback loop on account of many to many communications that we see today. This has changed the interplay between brand experience and consumer or customer experience. Brand experience may create boundaries for customer experience initially, but very soon customer experience takes over and if they don’t match then the aura of the brand will get shattered in today’s world. Net-net, both work in tandem and good customer experience can multiply brand experience and that way customer experience is accretive to brand experience”   

The Logo to Brand Journey

When asked about the logo to brand journey of Paperboat, Neeraj Biyani, Co-Founder, Paper Boat (Hector Beverages) said “Our logo to brand journey is different and therefore interesting because we did not launch paper boat out of market insights or a business opportunity. It was launched because we loved aam panna and in that pleasure, we realized that such ethnic beverages can have a universal appeal. Why we started is at the very core of the brand. We started with a noble cause of making packaged ethnic packaged beverages the way moms and grandmas used to do.” He further added that their “brand is emotion led and not insight led.”

Measuring Success with Customer Experience

Whilst there is a lot of movement around creating excellence with customer experiences, each organization is consistently working towards improving the quality of experience in order to retain existing customers and add new ones. When does an organization understand that they are on the correct path and how do they measure actual success in this area with metrics? This is what the panellists had to say. Gaurav Kala, VP & Business Director, The Arvind Store said “Customer dissatisfaction scores are more important than customer satisfaction scores. Uncertainty and escalations damage the customer experience. In general, the top leadership has what it takes to introduce a culture of Customer Experience.” Mohit Goel, Director – Marketing and Digital, Exide Life Insurance said “measuring customer satisfaction is important but what is equally important is acting on the score. Consumers expect to have an impact when they express their dissatisfaction and therefore closing the feedback cycle by resolving the customer problem is equally important.” He further added “we at Exide Life Insurance are more interested in capturing the emotion through the customer feedback instead of knowing whether we scored 1 or 5 on the CSAT scale. Today, approx. 80% of customer queries reach us via social media. Therefore, as a brand, we have become very responsive.” Cauvery Uthappa, General Manager, Marketing, Team lease Services said “a lot of organizations look at customer experience as a science, but I think the dialogue should shift to it being an art focusing our attention on deeper metrics such as loyalty, lifetime value. Customer experience is a balance between what it means to a happy customer and what it means to an unhappy customer.” Sarvesh Dwivedi, VP E-Commerce & Omni Channel, Lifestyle International Pvt. Ltd. said “according to me customer service and customer experience differ and are two part of the customer value equation. The service part is the one which is well defined, and the other part is the customer experience which can only happen when you empower the employees in your organization.”

Conclusion

Consumer India is expanding. There are many factors that come together to build an economy. One of those is consumer trust. Bad customer experience breaks the trust customers have in brands. This, in turn, affects the market and therefore the economy and domestic story of India. Indian corporates in their self-interest or even otherwise don’t have a choice but to elevate the experience of their customers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Sangram Aglave

Sangram Aglave brings a unique perspective on topics related to Enterprise IT Applications given his diverse professional experience in all functions of the Enterprise IT Applications business like Sales, Product & content marketing , Project management & Software product management. He is a ex-Oracle Business Analytics product manager and has worked at various silicon valley based product startups.

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