The number of mobile phone users in the world is expected to pass the five billion mark by 2019. It is thought that 36 per cent of the world’s population are using smartphones this year, up from about 10 per cent in 2011.
That is a lot of folk worldwide armed with greater intelligence about companies and their products, and primed to broadcast their experiences to millions of others.
As customers become more connected and share their thoughts more freely with one another, customer experience is having a profound impact on business performance.
People now expect outstanding service from companies, based on exceptional experiences they have received from organisations like Apple and Amazon. They have little tolerance for bad ones. Indeed, they will happily move their custom elsewhere.
As advisers have been saying for some time now, it is not about the product any more. And as I have alluded to in this column many times before, it is also about much more than service.
Customers shape their attitudes and behaviours towards companies based on their total experiences with them as a brand.
Customer experience is not a nebulous, airy fairy thing that some people can hark on about. It is the total of all the interactions a person has with a brand during their customer lifecycle.
It is actually rather scientific and it needs to be more carefully gauged.
Whether you are an advice business, a platform or a provider, this is the critical differentiator in today’s hyper-competitive, hyper-connected market. Differentiation based solely on product innovation is unsustainable because competitors can leapfrog features and functions more quickly than ever.
To optimise your market share and margins, you must provide customers with consistent, compelling experiences. Investments in improving the customer experience start by understanding the customer lifecycle. Life offices and asset managers: that means more detailed segmentation than “national, network, big, small, supporter, non-supporter” and so on. Advisers: three client service tiers based on assets under management barely scratches the surface.
Your trade is not what you do any more, it is how you do it. And, more importantly, how your customers experience it.
Phil Wickenden is managing director at Cicero Research