We are living in times where the phrase ‘sab chalta hai’ meaning ‘anything goes’ is no longer applicable to Indian consumers as they have become smarter with more power to publicly report businesses that do not provide the requisite services or customer experience as promised. The awareness among the general public has increased manifold thanks to social media. Moreover, global brands have entered the markets and raised the standard of services, which people have now come to expect of every national brand too. The rising digital tide has engulfed the Indian customers and led them to ask for more bang for the buck, expecting superior quality service and prompt handling of any discrepancies.
This phenomenon was extensively studied by Forrester Research. They used their Customer Experience (CX) Index to benchmark the interactions of consumers with brands all over the country. We all know that businesses have to keep their customers happy for growth and loyalty but Forrester found that most Indian companies were struggling to deliver even average CX. This certainly has serious implication on bottom lines. Oracle found in its research that brands recognize the significant financial impact of poor customer experiences but still struggle to develop and implement successful strategies. Oracle’s research revealed that businesses often lose about 20% of revenue due to poor CX execution. The research also revealed that executives cite reasons like limitations from rigid technology, siloed organizations and systems and insufficient investment as the biggest barriers to delivering the best possible CX, which is, to be honest, just putting the blame on the tech guys.
Coming back to Forrester’s research about how CX in India is below the mark, the experiences of 17,497 metro Indian online adults showed that out of 102 brands surveyed, only 9% qualified as ‘good’, 28% received poor scores and 60% of them were classified as just ‘OKAY’. Splitting the brands vertically, credit card providers seemed to lead the way, followed by banking and insurance which showed mediocre scores. Mobile device and PC manufacturers, however, showed signs of hope and were ranked second and fourth respectively. Telecom providers definitely need to put in more effort with respect to meeting customer expectations. The three big sectors namely TV, wireless and Internet brands in all three categories struggled to deliver successful and positive experiences.
Forrester did a deeper study into how the successful brands implemented different strategies when it comes to CX. They listed out some key points for success in India which are summarized below:
Retail banks must provide faster responses to digital disruption: While acquiring customers is a priority for Indian banks, going the extra mile to provide a superior CX does not appear to be that high up on their priority list. Forrester says that banks like HDFC that are embracing the mobile mind-shift by making cross-channel value propositions which are easier to navigate and access and which take into account more sophisticated digital users will benefit from the support of increasingly savvy customers.
Traditional and digital-only retailers must reduce, simplify and control their offerings: Several brands in Forrester’s survey stood out in the CX Index because of the ease with which customers derive value from them. “The webs of intermediaries and distributors in the industry negatively affect the CX scores of firms, rendering them unable to control the experience throughout the customer life cycle. The degradation of CX quality between manufacturer and third-party or small retailer is more pronounced in India, where varying standards of quality muddy the supply chain,” finds Forrester.
In India, it is a good idea to target emotion: With respect to CX, effectiveness and ease are both essential but not enough to emerge as winners. Forrester reveals that the emotions that an experience elicits significantly influences loyalty. In its survey Forrester saw that huge revenue, customer acquisition, and customer retention opportunities await Indian companies that not only get the basic things right but can also comprehend and respond to the emotional side of their customers.
There’s a big room for improvement for brands that are leaders in CX leaders as well. Brands must first meet the basic needs of customers before moving on to loyalty programs. Forrester advises companies to map their customer journey in order to understand where the clash occurs before moving on to creating loyalty programs. Forrester also advises searching across industries for CX improvement inspiration. Taking note of experiences outside the current industry, for example, banking taking pointers from hospitality or insurance taking notes from the aviation industry can go a long way in making a company stand out from its industry peers.
All these factors coupled with an emotional strategy is sure to create the way to successful CX strategies.