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How businesses must re-evaluate their customer experience for future growth and customer success.

The next step of digital maturity?

We have all attended a seminar at some point where an industry speaker has opened with “what makes a successful digital business?”.

A good response should be something along the lines of…

“the ability to continuously improve the delivery of communication, products and services to your chosen market(s) in the face of ever-evolving consumer or customer expectation”

… well, that’s the one I use (or should I say stole… ahem!).

Unified Commerce is exactly this. And in terms of commercial and business maturity, it is the positive and natural progression for businesses moving away from omnichannel thinking.

How a business achieves this is almost a secondary concern. You do not need to mention Cloud, APIs, UX or channels to understand the importance of the following:

  • It’s about the customer, always
  • It’s about always improving
  • It’s about anticipating change

The simple outcome we want from Unified Commerce is increased customer satisfaction.

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7 questions that will drive your Unified Commerce shift

Firstly, you should take an immediate snapshot of where you are:

Customer and product experience

  • Does your customer receive consistent and an above satisfactory level of service at every touchpoint?
  • Do you research your customers, and will you continually research them?
  • What is it that matters most to your customers in what you are selling or providing to them?

Trading activity and agility

  • Can your marketers/merchandising teams act both proactively and reactively to customer sentiment and changes in market conditions?
  • Do you measure these outcomes accurately and understand how to execute on the results?

Integration and de-siloing

  • Have you grasped the concept of the internal customer?
  • Can your merchandising, shop floor, digital, data and operations teams integrate and innovate together?

The creation of internal customer ROI is a “win-win”. It is correlated with external customer success and should be embraced as a non-zero-sum game, across the enterprise.

The living customer context

Digital teams in the Commerce arena are often reliant on well-intended but slightly hit or miss activities such as:

  • Creating customer personas
  • Drawing value maps/journey maps
  • Running blue sky/brainstorming sessions

These are customer 101 type exercises, perfectly valid, but the outcome is all too frequently a linear happy path which will most definitely include a phrase along the lines of “customer checks for better price at Amazon”… yawn!

Perhaps more importantly, it is outside of a living context and is treating the customer as a “sprite”. To address this, you should be asking:

  • How do we wish for this customer to perceive us, interact with us, trust us and advocate for us?
  • How does this customer feel right now and what’s influencing them?
  • How do we help them achieve something today?

Remember it is about positive customer outcomes… not simple conversion.

Factsheet-Will you grow or shrink in today's digital marketplace?

Living context works internally also…

From a strategic standpoint, “non-digital” managers provide significantly more valuable business input on facilitating change than those working in digital commerce roles. As the “internal customer”, they should be engaged with at outset and proactively questioning:

  • How does your service capability fall short against the customer experience?
  • Have you assessed current weaknesses and key integration points with “what if we could?”
  • How do you assess and demonstrate accurate internal ROI potential?

Visualising internal ROI, not only as bottom line reward but as an effective plan for growth, is the key to improving cross-team action and satisfaction.

Working towards the vision

When committing to change, we want to avoid exercises that deliver little value.

You need to appraise, quantify and qualify all touchpoints that a customer can engage with to identify which are of influence and sentiment vs moments of truth. (The questions from the previous section will help to drive this).

Moments of truth are a promise from the business to the customer in return for a “tangible” interaction (yes, that includes you Alexa).

If your technical or customer service teams do not deliver on that promise, you will lose the trust of your customer and potential future advocacy, key to a Unified Commerce strategy.

This is not purely “fix what is broken”, there is still room for creativity, experimentation and innovation… but the focus here is on improvement and rapid customer value.

When the goal is Unified Commerce, this is where the journey begins.

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