Why the experience economy is key to CX success [Oracle Interview]

Emmanuel Obadia, VP Marketing – EMEA Applications at Oracle, discusses the experience economy and the key CX trends you need to jump on



Adam Muspratt
08/08/2019

Customer experience

CX Network advisory board member Emmanuel Obadia, VP Marketing, EMEA Applications at Oracle, reveals  key trends that winning CX leaders follow, the pitfalls to avoid and how best to utilise data in today's increasingly connected world. 

CX Network: In today’s economy, we know that brands are shifting to using experiences as a means of competition to get ahead of the competition. But what are the companies who are growing and succeeding focusing on within the CX paradigm?

Emmanuel Obadia: There are three major trends that successful CX companies recognise:

  1. Customers are drivers of innovations, not the companies. Customers are readily utilising new capabilities that they have at their disposal, especially new UIs such as bots, voice devices and conversational UI.
  2. The customer journey spans across many domains including sales, service, marketing and commerce – and it’s a nonlinear journey. Now that it’s getting there, there are a lot of what we call “micro moments”. These include picking up your phone, deciding, searching for a product and making a transaction online.
  3. The final major trend is having actionable data, intelligence and experiences connected across all of these functions. That will enable you to deliver highly personalised experiences – so it is really B2Me in real time. 

Because this is a complex matter, we approach these three trends with a four-piece game plan: Discover, engage, consume and serve. Your ability to action each point will determine if you are a CX winner. 

  • Discovery: Discovery is about the time to explore and how quickly a customer can find what they need.
  • Engaging: This refers to the time to learn; is the information easily uncovered for all trusted sources for your prospect?
  • Consume: This refers to the time to purchase and ensuring the buying process is as efficient and effective in relation to your company.
  • Serve: This is not just about the time to respond, but also about the time to deliver service fulfilment. This is measuring the time to resolve tickets and not only how much time an agent spends with the customer.

By actioning these points, you can produce effortless customer experiences, which is more valuable than a CX that aims to delight. 

In the long run, delightful customer experience is expensive and does not bring back a lot of revenue growth compared to effortless customer experience. Ultimately, customers want convenience and engagement. 

Read: Introducing Oracle’s Vp Of Emea Marketing 

Companies that provide effortless customer experience do not rush innovation for the sake of innovation; they imitate and repurpose what the winners are doing, even if they’re in a different industry. In addition, they do not do correlation; they ensure we meet the customer needs. Customer needs can comprise:

  • Functional: “I want this task accomplished.”
  • Emotional: “I want to be reassured or mitigate a belief or feeling."
  • Social: “I want to increase the relational connection or the social standing I enjoy.”

According to a rating scale devised by Gorkana which determines how customers are rating ease of use on an importance scale of 1-100, for retailers, the most important consideration is how close the physical store is (72/100); for banks, the ability to submit a service request on the website or via a mobile app (68/100). For utilities, the functionality of checking usage status or pay a bill (66/100). One final consideration for retailers is the functionality to conduct product research (62/100).

"In the long run, delightful customer experience is expensive and does not bring back a lot of revenue growth compared to effortless customer experience"

From this data, we can make a few conclusions. Helping the customer get the need done, such as looking up a physical store, can be very effective in your ability to offer effortless customer experience.

Brands are doing this while looking at wealth through their customer’s eyes. They’re asking themselves: “Is every experience that my brand delivers worth the time a customer invests with me?”

Read: Out-Convenience Your Competition: Why Customer Analytics Should Be In Your Toolkit 

What makes this experience valuable is highly personalised, individual, timely, relevant and contextual interactions across all the channels. Companies connecting with their customers as individuals drive marketing professionals crazy because we’re not used to that. The highly personalised experience can only be executed again when the company has a comprehensive understanding of each customer in real time, and the ability to action data and intelligence in an orchestrated way.

A substantial use case I frequently refer to is the city of Albuquerque. They have integrated Alexa into their 311 call centre to help service the requests of citizens and local government, for everything from reporting a crime-related issue to checking the weather.

Other fascinating customer experience case studies include Netflix, Spotify and Amazon. A lot of us are using these services but none of us have the same menus and recommendations, as they’re unique to each individual.  

CX Network: What happens to the firms who ignore the power and value of experiences, or continue with bad profit models in the experience economy?

Emmanuel Obadia: To be a little dramatic, they will disappear. It may take a long time because many of these companies are well established and can prolong the battle, but they will eventually exhaust their resources. They will suffer negative growth because of diminishing customer loyalty, or high churn if they operate a subscription model. Overall, a loss of market share to competitors where effortless CX has become the norm is inevitable.

Read: How today's luxury brands delight customers

This is a major disruptive change in our business world, and that’s what we recognise as the “experience economy”.

CX Network: Can you explain more about the value of time in the experience economy?

Emmanuel Obadia: Time is a special resource because it's finite. But we as customers expect answers and results in milliseconds. We watch our taxi coming in minutes and packages arrive at our door in hours. Therefore, micro moments on mobile devices are making this concept more salient. 

This means that companies need to expect and use more predictive analysis based on 360° customer data and intelligence. In fact, recent research that stated that the expectations of real-time interaction were 64% in B2C and a staggering 80% in B2B. Ultimately, businesses need to be there before the customer even knows they have a problem and offer a predictive action.

"Companies need to expect and use more predictive analysis based on 360° customer data and intelligence"

CX Network: Looking at the value of time and convenience to customers, what sort of internal corporate pressures do firms have to account for to make that a reality?

Emmanuel Obadia: There is a need for a compelling reason to change. Survival of the company is typically a good enough reason. A few barriers to progression include:

  • Inertia: Because this is a massive cross-functional effort. It’s simple for some people in an organisation, especially at the top to pay you lip service but not make any tangible changes. That’s inertia and it’s terrible.
  • Denial: This goes back to focusing on correlation instead of helping get the job done. An example is when you prioritise ticket close time versus problem resolution. The obvious problem here is that ticket close time doesn’t tell you whether the customer is happy with what the service.

CX Network: What are the best ways to mitigate inertia and denial?

Emmanuel Obadia: As a CX leader, highlight the cost of fragmentation to escape inertia. Then, capture and validate the voice of the customer with very special care and not rely on correlation.

In addition, identify the moments of truth for your brand, the ones where you can significantly improve and make a change and take the lead over the competition, and benchmark your competition.

With that, you can build your case to the executives and win them over. In fact, some brands have brought their CEO to the front lines to understand the day-to-day difficulties field agents have to endure. This is a great tactic.

CX Network: How does data play into this CX strategy?

Emmanuel Obadia: Data is the foundation upon which you can build the entire CX effort. It’s blood to CX. If you don’t have data, you can’t go anywhere. However, data is a buzzword because it can mean many things. It covers a variety of elements that companies need to capture in real time.

Oracle's inception 40 years ago revolved around data and we continue to be very dedicated to this area, so we have a lot of experience. Begin to spot first party data – all the data you can gather across services, departments and organisations within your company about the customer. Typically, this is structured data and it should be in one central place.

After which, you have second-party data which comes from your partners. For example, considering Coca-Cola as a brand, one of their biggest sources of revenue comes from McDonald's hence the data that both companies share transparently about the end customer.

Read: Discovering trust in your data and security

Finally, you have third-party data. This is unstructured data from the outside world. It is becoming huge with the prevalence of IoT, digital body language and digital behaviour, all of which gives you a massive influx of data to leverage.

The value here is astronomical. The GAFA companies (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) are valued at more than $3 trillion, which is larger than the GDP of France ($2.46 trillion). The more you interact with GAFAs, the more you get them rich because they use your data to monetise it.

However, to make it actionable in all parts of your business, you need to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning. You might use it in a marketing capacity to predict the next best channel to engage prospective customers or, in an e-commerce setting, you can predict the best offer you can present to a prospective customer.

The possibilities are endless. Imagine if your company changed the price of its services and you notice that a customer started to check online invoices with increased frequency and subsequently placed a call to your agent. You know that they will be talking about the price change. If you have empowering data on-hand, you can actively address the situation and offer a superior customer experience economy.

Read: Introducing Oracle’s VP of EMEA Marketing

Lastly, let’s discuss data and applied intelligence. It will enable CX leaders to go beyond traditional approaches to audience targeting and segmentation. You have leverage reach and contextual behavioural insight across all channels, and the more you interact with customers, the more contextual customer data you have to deliver personalised experiences.

CX Network: Referring to your example of a customer checking their invoice multiple times, do you agree that this kind of customer signal is easier to interpret?

Emmanuel Obadia: Yes, and it is constantly evolving. One of the most interesting elements in this space is the ability to assess multiple channels at the same time. Again, going back to the example of a customer checking their invoices, you can have a chatbot ask: “Are you thinking about the price change, do you want to chat?” Even before the customer places a call you can have an online voice interaction.

CX Network: What are key mistakes to avoid when utilising real-time efforts and customer experience?

Emmanuel Obadia: It is vital you do not rush to innovative technology instead of gathering behavioural information about your customer. Companies are rushing to chatbots, AI and IoT because they are trendy, with technology vendors claiming that all you need to succeed is just the core technology. As I mentioned, you won’t be able to do much without the data.

"It is vital you do not rush  to innovative technology instead of gathering behavioural information about your customer"

The second point is not validating the voice of the customer, especially regarding emotions. The human factor is becoming more vital on the front stage. Demographics are not useful anymore compared to 360° customer data.

Read: Bank of England’s Head of Data Collection talks data integrity

Another mistake to avoid is not breaking down the silos in your company. It is easier said than done, especially in larger companies, but it is vital to climb to the top or convince those in leadership positions to make change.

On that note, the final mistake is not trying to bring in executives, such as your CMO, to champion CX with testimony. It is vital they know what field agents on the front line are dealing with and what kind of CX the customers are receiving.

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