Embracing the Power of Customer Experience

A remarkable customer experience promotes brand loyalty, helps retain customers, and encourages brand advocacy.

It is crucial for businesses, especially SMEs, to keep an open mind to emerging strategies and technologies that can heighten the customer experience. It is increasingly becoming a customer’s world and brands have to work harder to fit in.

To elevate the customer experience to a higher level, businesses should adopt a ‘customer obsessed’ mind-set and strive to be relentlessly relevant. Customers are only interested in brands that relate to them and those they can relate to. Brands can no longer rest on their laurels but have to keep a finger on the pulse on what customers value, and what is relevant with the evolving lifestyle, emerging technology and a more connected world more than ever. Nokia and Blackberry, once giants and brand leaders of the industry, became less relevant after losing touch with consumers’ needs and expectations. This requires a profound customer-centric ‘outside-in’ approach that starts with analysing the customer’s lifestyle, mind-set and value system and how the brand can fit in. Business transformation consultants, such as Prophet (Singapore) Pte Ltd, can help companies to do so.

In late 2018, MB Bank approached Prophet as it wanted to rethink its customer experience and evolve the legacy banking system towards a digital bank more in tune with the digital era today.

MB Bank in Vietnam had aspirations to be a digital bank.

However, MB Bank did not fully understand who they needed to target within a fast-changing landscape in Vietnam where customers are getting more affluent and digitally savvier. Prophet conducted detailed segmentation research to help MB Bank understand the evolving marketplace and growth opportunities. Six major segments were identified within the population of nearly 100 million Vietnamese. Prophet then helped MB prioritise three key segments that fit the bank’s growth ambition.

In February 2020, MB Bank launched its new digital banking app. This was especially timely as MB Bank was able to acquire 8.3 million new customers by end 2021 despite the market challenges due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. This was an impressive feat given that MB only had 5 million accountholders over its past 25 years. Today, more than 97% of the customers in MB do their banking digitally, with over 2 million users per day. The bank is now ranked No. 1 in terms of digital banking in Vietnam, surpassing even popular social media apps like Tik Tok and Facebook, and ranked amongst the highest in digital transactions in Asia. Understanding the relevance of banking in a digital era with a clear understanding of customers has helped spurred the amazing growth of MB Bank.

Be customer-centric and purpose-led

Central to winning brands today is customer centricity. Customers’ needs and attitudes will evolve, and competitors will get more intense and stronger. To stay ahead, brands should anticipate and plan for change. A human-centric approach will help brands stay relevant, but with new and better technology springing up so often, the agility and speed to react to change is also important.

Successful brands remain relevant by being customer-obsessed and purpose-led. They understand that creating deeper connections and motivations by finding common ground – shared interests bonded by what matters in their customers’ lives and what they value in a brand.

Technology can cut both ways

Sure, can improve customer experience and eliminate pain points, but it is a double-edged sword. Many would have had the experience with a bank, where customers with queries are redirected to the chatbot. While this is helpful compared to waiting on the phone, some customers complain about the endless loop of chats which often lead to nowhere. In this increasingly hyper-personalised world, businesses should realise that while a problem may look and sound the same, customers will often demand a more personal approach, preferring a different process to solve it.

Digitally-savvy consumers have different expectations.

When tech is well adopted it not only makes the experience more delightful, it eases the frustrations. Uber’s success was not about the most revolutionary of tech but one that resolves one key pain point — the uncertainty of whether your ride will arrive, and how long the entire journey will take. Coupled with chat and call functions to communicate with the driver, and the choice of a more luxurious ride, it is the epitome of the best customer experience.

Netflix similarly transformed the whole binge watch experience by reinventing a highly personalised and on-demand service anytime, anywhere. That Netflix earned a loyal following by becoming an indispensable part of customers’ lives in 50 countries with nearly 33.3 million subscribers worldwide didn’t happen by chance. The brand built its success on developing a deep understanding of what people love to watch and how they watch it. The micro understanding of customers is delivered through hyper personalisation and recommendations based on behavioural algorithms.

Customer obsession and right adoption of technology in creating one of the best customer experiences allowed Netflix to create the category breakthroughs that no one thought was possible.

Staying ahead of the curve, staying relevant

Marketing agility will be a term one will hear even more over the next few years.  It means you have to move with the times – and fast. Whether it is about design or customer experience, one common thread across any start-up or well-established brands will be its ability to adapt to change, and the speed it can react to market evolution, technology enablement and a continued focus on being customer-centric and innovative.

The notion of “evolve or die” could not be more critical for companies when it comes to embracing the power of customer experience. If you don’t, you will become irrelevant and no matter how successful you once were, customers will abandon you faster than they did with the giants who were once market leaders of the world.

Adapted from an interview with Ms Jacqueline Alexis Thng, Partner at Prophet.

Ms Jacqueline Alexis Thng has over 25 years of strategic consulting in customer experience strategy, growth and business transformation for clients such as Fox Networks, Temasek, AXA, DBS Bank, FairPrice and across healthcare, retail, hospitality utilities, CPG, airlines and financial institutions sectors.