How Digital Disruption is Driving Change in the CX Landscape

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Maya Fowell

This article looks at five recent examples of digital disruption changing the customer experience landscape, with a focus on brands such as BMW, Etsy and Whatsapp. How have they transformed their business to keep up with consumers demanding more and what has the effect been on customer experience?

Digitaltechnologies have empowered customers like never before, transforming their relationship with brands and products at a speed that’s only getting faster. Traditional companies that struggle to adapt to the influx of new ways to interact with ever-connected customers are likely to be blindsided as digital disruption grows strong.

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Thankfully, disruption brings with it opportunity and in his new book, Forrester’s James McQuivey explains that technological advances are creating opportunities for more companies than ever before to meet customer needs at lower costs and be truly innovative.

But is it really digital or death? The five industries that certainly seem to think so – retail, banking, automotive, mobile payments and apps – have taken digital disruption in their stride, believing riding the digital wave of change in the CX landscape is the only way to continually provide customers with an excellent customer experience.

We take a look at five recent stories that highlight the ways digital disruption has impacted these industries.

Automotive: Digital Disruption and BMW

BMW has launched a new 24/7 service that will allow customers to purchase a car in less than 10 minutes.

‘BMW Retail Online’ is an end-to-end service that enables prospective customers to build their ideal car, arrange a test drive, and agree financing options, payment method and get a trade in value for their own car before finalising a delivery date.

Though this will be available 24/7, the service is primarily designed to help retailers keep in contact with customers through new channels. Multi-channel chat options including web chat, email and phone lines are available between 8am and 10pm in an attempt to emulate the traditional showroom experience, Retail Gazette reports1.

According to BMW, customers continue to appreciate the availability of personal and human advice.

"This is great news for retailers. It forms part of our ever more customer-centric focus and makes life easier for the customer," said Nigel Hurley, Sytner Group BMW Divisional Manager. "We see this becoming an increasingly important channel in the future."

BMW Retail Online was trialled with nine UK retailers before being rolled out nationally and proved highly successful. 95 per cent of BMW UK retailers have decided to offer this service to their customers.

Retail: Digital Disruption and Etsy

Etsy is a marketplace where people around the world connect, both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods. The heart and soul of Etsy is their global community: the creative entrepreneurs who use Etsy to sell what they make or curate, the shoppers looking for things they can’t find anywhere else, the manufacturers who partner with Etsy sellers to help them grow, and the Etsy employees who maintain and nurture our marketplace.

Etsy, the youngest of the big four e-commerce players (Alibaba, eBay, Etsy, Amazon), may be the newest addition to the game but that hasn’t stopped it playing hard and fast. It was founded in 2005 and boosted a whopping $1.93 billion in annual gross merchandise sales in 20142 – it is safe to say the arts and crafts marketplace with no physical store is expanding across the globe.

Where does Etsy’s success come from? Its USP is the intimacy of each sale, from dollhouses to handmade wedding rings, usually with a note from the seller; Etsy entrepreneurs can create a personalised experience for the customer3. A simple extra, easily lost in the rapid world of digital but clearly creating value for the brand.

Banking: Digital Disruption and Fidor

According to Tech Digest, around £1 in every £4 is spent online and spending via mobile is growing at four times the rate of spending online via non-mobile.

Digital technology is shaking up all manner of industries; with mobile applications and software changing the way we work, shop and interact with brands and their services. The banking sector is no exception and it was recently predicted that as many as 2,400 bank branches could close over the next five years, with 1 billion people expected to be using their mobile device for banking purposes by 20174.

In addition, banks increasingly realise that to succeed with digital, they must adopt the habits and culture of digitally native companies. For example, opening up the banks’ application programming interfaces, pursuing agile development or hosting hackathons to foster intensive digital collaboration

In spite of this shift towards digital, established banks have a reputation of being slow to implement new technology and they struggle to move away from legacy infrastructures which have been in place, in some cases, since the 1960s. For these global corporations, with highly complex business structures, adopting mobile or cloud technology can be a long process, with many citing security concerns and ultimately cost as challenges to quick and effective deployment of digital services.

The success of banks like Fidor is down to the fact that their business strategy has been entirely geared around customer experience, co-creation and challenging the idea of "what a bank needs to be" to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

Fidor’s online-only model allows it to focus on re-establishing lost connections with customers and allowing them to actively participate in the bank’s decision making process, therefore continually strengthening trust, an essential factor in any relationship. Its community-based approach asks members to say what services and products they want and offers services such as peer-to-peer loans and quick and easy access to account information.

Mobile Payments: Digital Disruption and Pingit

Services such as Pingit from Barclays, which uses the Faster Payments service, enable customers to make payments via any kind of mobile phone to all UK current account holders with needing account number/sort code details.

What’s more, you don’t have to be a Barclays customer to use it. Barclays has also recently teamed up with Zapp so that Pingit can be used at point of sale terminals in shops and online where the Pay By Bank app symbol is shown.

According to Faster Payment, there’s been a "growth of more than 15 per cent a year because of mobile banking. With Paym, the standard used by Pingit, also agreed by most of the high street banks we are likely to see more of these services gain in popularity during 20165."

John Rakowski, Director of Technology Strategy, AppDynamics said: "Digitisation of the banking sector will continue at breakneck pace, bringing with it both challenges and countless opportunities. Providers who can master new technology, shift to a modern software strategy, and can maintain a customer-obsessed focus will reap the benefits in a competitive and fast-moving marketplace’ where customer experience is King. "

App: Digital Disruption and WhatsApp

In 2015, WhatsApp added a new voice-calling feature which allows people to ring other users. The company has released a new version of the app which means people with iPhones and Androids can talk to anyone around the world for free.

WhatsApp Calling uses an internet connection rather than your mobile phone's voice minutes, like Skype, FaceTime Audio or Viber. The iTunes website says the update means users can call "friends and family using WhatsApp for free, even if they're in another country".

With more and more users using the service WhatsApp's popularity continues to increase, it's believed the app will continue to experiment with new features that allow its customers the option to use the services they really want and need.


Digital disruption can come from anywhere, it can happen quickly and could affect any company. 20 years ago, m-commerce was non existent and now brands have embedded internal strategies devoted to handling the rise in mobile payments and app use.

By 2020 who can predict where digital disruption is likely to take our customer experience?