I am a Millennial, married to a Gen Xer, born to baby boomers, with Generation Z children, and we are your customers. We’re educated consumers with varied experiences, and the companies that get our business must be able to meet our growing expectations.
I want information that’s easy to find on your website, easy to order merchandise delivered in two days and I don’t want to talk to anyone. My Gen Z stepdaughter wants the best price for the best product, from bank loans to tennis shoes — all the better if you have a green program and give back to the community. My Gen Xer husband wants you to know his history with your business and give him more of the same as easily as possible. My baby boomer mother is confused by complex online ordering systems and prefers traditional stores, with kind and smiling people who can answer her questions without making her feel uninformed.
We all shop online, go to brick and mortar stores, and want to feel valued as individuals when we give you our business.
The fine line of customer satisfaction
When did pleasing the market become so challenging?
Customers can be your best advertisement or your biggest detractors, and the line between these two factions is increasingly fine. Companies face increased competition and technology advancements that bring more products to market faster. Review sites like Yelp and the popularity of social media means everyone know what everyone else is buying, experiencing and accepting.
With more choices and more opportunity to share the outcomes of those choices, customers hold increasing power. Yet as services and experiences improve, so do consumer expectations. And because every customer is different, staying relevant means meeting each customer with excellence across all channels and being flexible enough to tailor each experience to the individual.
Financial services and retail hit hardest
Traditional financial services and retail companies have common roots in the brick and mortar service delivery model, with in-person and relationship-oriented consumer servicing. Then came high-speed internet, home computing and smart phones, disrupting that model at a blinding pace, paving the way for a multitude of new business models. Consumers, once wary of sharing credit cards online, are now sharing their entire lives online. They can price check while trying on clothes in stores, shop auto loan rates on the go and Venmo friends to split an appetizer while waiting in a restaurant.
This shift has deeply affected traditional retailers and FinServ companies, as the latest competition has no walls. Cloud-born businesses are not locked in to legacy infrastructure, outdated tools or under-capitalized data centers.
To compete, traditional companies must offer the same ease of use as their online counterparts, but without sacrificing the in-person white glove services that is their primary competitive edge. They must provide the same or better service, at the same or better price, while delivering a seamless experience online, via mobile and in store. But how?
Omnichannel experience guidance
Developing an omnichannel experience, defined by Frost & Sullivan as the “seamless and effortless, high-quality customer experiences that occur within and between contact channels” — is the primary focus of most traditional businesses.
Yet Gartner predicts that more than a quarter of enterprises seeking unified omnichannel customer engagement will encounter “irreconcilable people, political or organizational issues.” Traditional retailers and financial services companies need to wade through a minefield of skills gaps, institutional inertia and government oversight. The recipe for success is complex, but with the right guidance, it is possible. Below are several considerations your organization should consider when developing an omnichannel experience strategy.
- Continuous improvement and delivery: This is arguably one of the most important aspects of your customer experience strategy. Engage in industry consortiums with your peers and directly with customers. Include real time perspective and take concerns seriously. Be mindful of the fact that customers will give you information needed to improve existing services, but likely won’t be able to steer you toward the next great disruptor.
- Internal cultural changes: These can be found in the ITIL, design thinking, DevOps and innovation centers of your local consulting shops. Encourage the development of new skills and think of new ways to keep the customer first.
- Overhaul of legacy technology environment: Managed service providers, cloud providers and SaaS companies can help drive rapid replacement or co-existence with current investments. They can help you outsource infrastructure and shift your focus to innovating for the customer.
- Skills enhancements: Detailed skills assessments can help identify gaps to address with recruiting, contracting and skills training programs. Create a continuous learning programs to keep your teams up-to-date
- Rapid development and access to new services: Take advantage of API management strategy and open connections to the marketplace economy of FinTech and cloud-born startups. Use what someone else already built for improved speed to market, letting go of the need to build everything from the ground up. Consider innovation labs and hackathons to rapidly prototype and explore new ideas.
- Regulatory and compliance consideration: Invest in RegTech automation and leverage artificial intelligence and business process automation for error prone, time-consuming and easily repeatable tasks.
- Know your customer: It’s important to know your customer from a security perspective, but today’s customer expects you to know them as individuals. Strategies should include utilizing existing and external data sources to personalize the customer experience automatically.
- You are a customer: Put on your “customer” hat and consider how you want to be served. Mystery shop your own company and industry peers. There is always something to be learned when you see through the eyes of your target consumer.
As complex as the strategy for change is, the outcome for traditional financial services and retail stores can be incredibly positive. Those able to create channels of service that are equally outstanding online and in person have a decided advantage – they are primed to meet all generations of customers, from all walks of life, with all expectations.
Outsourcing management and expertise
Organizations across all industries have trusted Rackspace to guide them through digital transformations. Let us help you elevate your customer experience. Learn more about Rackspace and what we do for clients in retail and finance sectors, or read about some of the work we’ve done with other clients.