The great digital customer experience

- Culture and leadership are key factors


May 2019


Do your culture and leadership lead to great digital customer experiences? Far too few companies have real experience with leveraging digitalisation to create better customer experiences. 

When did you last have a fantastic, different and memorable digital customer experience? Every time we ask that question, quite a long time passes before we get an answer – if we get an answer at all. This confirms that the extraordinary customer experiences – digital as well as analogue – do not happen every day – and this despite the fact that customer experience is an area that many organisations have an increasing focus on.

If you take a glance at other market surveys, 80% of all organisations strive to deliver strong customer experiences, which contrasts with the fact that only 8% of customers believe that they have succeeded. The short explanation is that the great customer experience can be a tough one to crack, which results from DXindex 2019 also support. Results show that only 29% of companies have real experience with leveraging digitalisation to improve customer experience. 

Often, the organisation’s ambitions and focus are clear, and the “bumps” along the customer journey have in many cases been identified and need to be mended to improve the experience. But it can feel like an almost endless journey to start from there and then get the organisation to act differently. Most often it is because leadership and culture are not enough. 

Leadership and culture are key to the customer experience

Results from DXindex 2019 confirm that leadership and culture are important to the customer experience. Results show that both organisational culture and top management commitment have a significant impact on the customer experience. Nevertheless, only 28% of top managers are at the forefront of creating unique customer experiences and are able to create a clear, coherent picture of the strategy’s impact on the customer experience. This is despite the fact that it can be proven that there are obvious economic benefits from acting more customer-oriented. 

Management is and will be essential to driving a customer-oriented digital culture. As Richard Branson so beautifully says: “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”. And even though the company’s ability to keep up with the digital development is instrumental in the success of delivering a strong customer experience, I dare say that the customer experience is not solely a digital challenge. It is also a major cultural problem. And organisations that do not acknowledge that it requires a cultural change are already lagging behind.

Therefore, it is also frightening that 60% of organisations according to DXindex express that they are not particularly open to digital solutions that can provide customers with better experiences. No wonder it is difficult. If management does not focus strongly on customers and support the organisation morally, managerially and economically, then the potential for delivering strong customer experiences becomes insignificant. 

Someone will – or should – feel vulnerable and pulled right at the heartstrings here. 

The great digital customer experience consists of three elements

Let us return to the question in the introduction about whether digital solutions enhance customer experiences. First and foremost, one could be tempted to ask what the great digital experience really is? And whether one can actually succeed in creating a digital customer experience that not only reduces friction but is also a unique and memorable experience?

We know that personalised newsletters are effective when they are exposed with relevant content at the right time. But they rarely create a typical "wow effect" that stimulates senses and emotions. In the best case, it is an experience that generates profitability for the company, whereas it is questionable whether the solutions always meet the customers’ needs adequately.

The great customer experience is designed based on a weighing of the contribution towards profitability, fulfilment of customer needs and commitment.

We have the opportunity to create a unique digital customer experience when the customer experience contributes to the organisation’s profitability and at the same time meets the customer’s needs and challenges along the customer journey – and furthermore is able to create commitment and an emotional response in the receiver. When all three elements are fulfilled, the kind of customer experiences that we share and tell others about occur.

More organisations succeed with their digital solutions

Luckily, more organisations are successful in listening to the customers’ needs and transforming them into digital solutions – and that is beneficial to both customers and revenue. An example is Novo Nordisk’s new intelligent insulin pens. Novo Nordisk uses Hedia’s diabetes app and via artificial intelligence thereby helps diabetics take the right amount of insulin. Voila, a customer-focused organisation that is able to build a relevant, simple and engaging digital solution based on the customers’ needs and that simultaneously creates a positive customer experience that is guaranteed to be told over and over again.

The retail sector has in a similar way also succeeded in a number of great customer experiences. The sector has been characterised by constant change, forcing retailers to develop digital solutions to engage customers. For example, Matas, Coop and Netto use Google Assistant to guide the customers through their websites solely by the power of speech. Rema 1000 and Irma have developed apps that make it easy to shop online, make shopping lists and arrange shared purchases with the neighbour.

If we want to create unique customer experiences, it requires clear focus and distinct prioritisation in the top management

Other examples include the financial sector such as Danske Bank’s MobilePay app, which made it easy to transfer money. And Topdanmark that won the gold prize in Digital Award 2019 for creating a transparent and simple digital self-service that has led to 60% more people using digital self-service instead of calling customer service. The solution has simultaneously increased the conversion rate on completed claims by 25%.

These are all excellent examples of solutions that each in their own way meet a customer need, are profitable and/or can create commitment with the user.

Create a customer-focused culture and dedicated leadership

But how do these organisations succeed in creating great digital customer experiences? In my opinion, those who win out are also the ones that with a supportive management are able to navigate smoothly between digital and analogue channels and have the ability to live the brand to the fingertips of the employees. A purely digital customer experience is not always enough on its own. It must be crystal clear where the channels merge together and exactly what the employees must do differently to strengthen the digital customer experience – and not least create lasting change.

Shep Hyken, the American guru within customer service, says: ”CX is not a department. It’s a philosophy to be embraced by everyone in an organization. It’s in the future of a company.” And I couldn’t agree more. That is exactly what it is all about. It is undoubtedly many little things that drive the strong customer experience, but one thing is for sure. A company will get off to a stronger start if they have a culture with a strong customer-focused view and dedicated leadership and sees the customer experience mission as a true team sport. In other words, if we want to create unique customer experiences, it requires clear focus and distinct prioritisation in the top management.