The impact of digital on organisations has been well documented over the years. Some would argue that the answer to the question “What is digital?” is customer-centricity, and that everything that an organisation does is about serving the customer. How then can some organisations still be getting it so wrong? The land grab for customers started in 2009, fuelled by organisations embracing the new model of ‘Customer-Centricity’ which meant putting the customer experience front and centre in everything they do.

It is surprising then that in this day and age there are organisations that still get their approach to customers so wrong. Even when faced with the prospect of losing a sale they are unable to flex their processes or approach to turn around a poor customer experience to rescue a sale. Deloitte’s customer-centricity report of 2014 stated that organisations that were customer-centric were 60% more profitable than those who are not.

For example, below are two recent examples of organisations in the same sector but two wholly different customer experiences:

A Good Experience

The first is a well-known brand of beautiful cookers. After buying the cooker, I was contacted three times before it was delivered to confirm the date, the time, check accessibility for delivery, and was offered flexibility on when they would arrive. The cooker arrived on time, they connected it, took away the packaging and were delightful to deal with. Over the subsequent two months, I was contacted by their customer services team to check everything was working, that I was happy with the product and that I was enjoying using it. A delightful experience and I can’t recommend Rangemaster enough!

A Bad Experience

The second is a well known online retailer. After ordering the product and paying for it, I was told when they would deliver the item. I informed them that we would not be in that day but they turned up anyway! I tried to reschedule and was told they only delivered on Tuesdays and Saturdays and would arrive sometime between 8.00am and 5.00pm. There were no other days they could do as those were the days they delivered to our area. The worse part was that the limited delivery schedule was not communicated at the time of purchase, and even when faced with losing the sale the front-line representative did not have the authority to find a solution. So a refund was given and a sale lost.

Customer expectations are so high now that as soon as one company innovates, its innovation is rapidly expected to be the industry norm. Anyone not keeping pace risks looking either outdated or a barrier to an otherwise seamless experience. For example, DPD initially championed the text message with your delivery driver name and the specific hour slot they would be there. All other logistics businesses then had to follow suit. Even the Royal Mail email or message you with delivery times! I am baffled how a pure play e-commerce organisation can still think it is not commercial suicide to be so rigid in their processes that they would lose a sale, lose future custom from that person and incur the negative consequences of the subsequent retelling of the story.

Being digital is about being customer-centric. It’s understanding that it’s not about the product you are selling but the whole experience and service you are offering. Professor Venkatraman recently gave a presentation at our digital breakfast to fifty senior executives in which he vehemently stressed the need for organisations to put the customer at the heart of everything they do. Companies that stand still are in danger of being overtaken by the ‘Digital Giants’; the Facebooks, Amazons, and Googles of the world, for whom enabling the customer is at their very core. In this digital age, not doing anything can be the biggest risk of all.

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