Babar Khan Javed
Aug 31, 2017

Strategies for would-be champions of digital transformation

Brand marketers and other "change agents" shared best practices for driving digital-transformation initiatives to elevate the customer experience at Forrester CX Singapore 2017 yesterday.

Dominic Hoffmann, the chief customer experience officer at Lazada Group.
Dominic Hoffmann, the chief customer experience officer at Lazada Group.

When embarking on a mission toward improving the customer experience through digital business transformation, marketers must first and foremost gain advocates from within their teams and cross-functional departments.

That was one of the most repeated opening remarks at the Forrester CX 2017 event in Singapore yesterday. Held at the Marina Mandarin, the event brought together speakers from Pizza Hut, Zalora, Alibaba Group, Zendesk, Prudential and SAS. It also featured in-depth overviews of research reports conducted by Forrester analysts.

For CMOs interested in elevating the customer experience, the program offered three key takeaways.

1. Empathy for internal stakeholders

To give a customer experience-centric digital transformation program a shot, CMOs and marketers must win over their teams and peers. This can mean working with outside companies or independently to run customer-oriented workshops and sessions. For example, Zalora did this with the aim of instilling the value that customer satisfaction is everyone's job. In doing so, the entire organization has a singular common goal.

Speaking at the event, Jonathan Hwa, the regional head of customer experience at Zalora Group, shared his frustration with initially having to deal with internal stakeholders who responded with "it's not my responsibility" when confronted with the knowledge that their inefficiencies caused customer dissonance.

"The one thing, the one thing that really really annoys me, that one statement that triggers an allergic reaction in me is the phrase 'But it's not my responsibility'," Hwa said.

To rectify it, Hwa ran two types of workshops within the Zalora Group, one around customer journey mapping and the other around the voice of the customer.

The workshop on customer journey mapping had three main objectives. "The first was to have all of our teams understand the overall experience from the customer's perspective," Hwa said. "It's not about the open rate, it's not about your customer-acquisition cost, it's not about your timely delivery, it's not about your revenue."

The workshops were purposed to show every internal stakeholder about the wider implications of their role and ability in augmenting the customer experience. In breaking down silos, Hwa's workshops were able to drive home a singular mission within Zalora Group around customer happiness, and the role everyone was committed to play in it.

The success of the workshops was then repurposed for external stakeholders, such as third-party logistics companies and even SingPost. In doing so, the 10 touchpoints that make up the post-purchase parcel journey have improved, as evidenced by customer satisfaction and net promoter scores (NPS).

2. Retention orientation

Across the world, marketers are tasked with budgets and resources fixated on customer acquisition, and not enough toward customer retention. According to Daniel Brousseau, vice president and consulting director at Forrester, companies stand to gain a 900 percent lift in sales volume by pleasing customers that are already happy with them. This is in contrast to the average 200 percent lift companies experience from programs around customer acquisition or in resolving customer dissonance. He cited an example of his work with Southwest Airlines, which learned that its customers were switching airline preference after experiencing a flight delay that exceeded 30 minutes.

"The digital team at Southwest realized that they stood to lose millions in revenue due to customer churn as a result of a bad experience from a flight delay," Brousseau shared. "While one solution suggested was to have two extra planes, fueled and ready at an airport, it was far too costly. So we A/B tested with funny in-flight instructions."

His clients experienced an uplift in NPS during the experiment from the groups that were part of the control group around funny in-flight safety demonstrations, and in doing so, shared that they had experienced a US$138 million lift in sales from those customers, according to tracking with a proprietary CRM tool.

This approach to digital business transformation for customer experience was cited by every speaker for one fundamental reason: return on investment. Per the research and practice, time and again, the speakers found a higher return from programs that focused on the retention side of marketing instead of the acquisition side. And that in itself is only good for the agents of change in winning over decision-makers and shareholders.

Even Pizza Hut experienced a sales uplift with a rewards programs that borrowed from theme parks. Pin Yiing Kwok, the digital marketing manager at Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia, spoke about a program similar to the Starbucks rewards app, only that the points accumulated could also be used to cut through a queue and essentially enter an express line for quicker orders and takeaways.

"You have to use your loyalty points and redeem an express ticket," Kwok said in her presentation. "Once you do that, you walk in and can impress your date as well."

3. Financial acumen

Agents of change, while brimming with ambition and a zeal for customer orientation, are often held back due to their inability to justify the financial implications of the suggested digital transformation program. It is a critical area that Angela Hunter, the chief customer officer at Prudential Insurance, had to tackle.

"We must understand who the key stakeholders and influencers are and talk in their language about why customer experience is so important," she said. "For me, one of the most critical things is you must have CEO and executive-level support for transforming the customer experience and investing in customer experience."

This includes, she said, the programs and resources around customer experience.

She implored members of the audience that identified as change agents to become more educated in financial analysis and cost-benefit scenario planning. She also recommended that initiators build micro-wins into their plan so that stakeholders can experience incremental returns of shareholder value in the short run, which in turn improves their support for the recommended big-picture solution.

"We created a customer community last year and started to use that in our product design and we had some great quick wins out of that as well," she said, adding that "resilience and patience are absolutely key."

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