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Apparently we have to give customers the warm fuzzies ... How the heck do we do that?

Customer experience done right

Analysis “The customer is king” is up there with some of the most overused corporate mantras. But it has now been translated into a new buzzword – Customer Experience, or CX – and a whole industry is evolving on the back of it.

The purveyors of enterprise software, cloud services and digital devices would have you believe you can attain CX if only you bought more of what they sell with services.

In a world void of brand loyalty where companies are fighting for the attention of customers, and where customers’ perceptions of businesses are only as good as their last interaction, quality of service is fast becoming the differentiator.

According to Gartner, nine out of ten organisations believe that by this year, the experience brands give to consumers will be the main thing that sets them apart from competitors.

In an attempt to be heard, companies are pulling out the stops to build software "experiences" that work the same way for the customer and for staff, regardless of where or how they are shopping. If the hype is anything to go by, CX is the next stage in a revolution in customer experience driven by technologies including cloud, mobile and social, all of which have led today’s customers to expect easy, seamless interactions on multiple channels when and where they choose.

The theory is that by improving customer experiences and building loyalty with customers, companies will also see significant economic benefits, ranging from a greater return on investment, reduced cost of customer acquisition and increased revenue from repeat customers.

But the new customer channels are a double edged sword – also making it easier for customers to switch from one to another. The fear is that if businesses don’t deliver, customers will take their custom elsewhere.

Before you get “experience” you need customers. Keep them satisfied and ensure they return, and you'll build loyalty.

Bookmaker William Hill has tried to tackle this using technology to create a sense of the excitement customers feel when they go to physical betting shops.

Jamie Hart, William Hill’s director of innovation and customer experience, told The Register: “In the shops, it’s much more about relationships – it’s a bit like running a pub. But with online gambling, it’s all about bonus rounds and excitement. All we’re doing is taking money in and paying out. So everything we do is about the experience.”

Hart’s biggest goal is to cut out as much friction as possible from the way customers interact with William Hill online: “Anything where you need to think twice or go from one place on the website to another. You have to be able to do everything in two minutes with one finger and one thumb,” he says.

William Hill has been piloting a bespoke data analytics system that crunches data in real time to provide personalised recommendations to punters.

“It’s all about the relevance and accuracy of the prompt. But the biggest issue is the data. At 3pm on a Saturday, 150 simultaneous football matches with 180 markets and it’s got to be accurate.”

The signs have been good, with individual gamblers' bets up around 26 per cent as a result of the system, “but we’re only scratching the surface,” Hart says.

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