Customer Experience Interview with Fergal McHugh, Arekibo
With the upcoming joint event with our partner Sitefinity, we have interviewed our speakers to understand what customer experience means to them, challenges companies are facing, strategies to solve these issues and they will discuss the future of CX. First up we have Fergal McHugh.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Head of Strategy at Arekibo. My role is primarily focused on helping organisations figure our how they can use digital to make them better at what they do.
What does Customer Experience mean to you?
Customer Experience is about the customer’s whole interaction with a business, every touchpoint, every conversation, every encounter. I mainly look at things from the digital perspective but what is important about the idea of Customer Experience is the way it forces you look beyond your discipline and to think about what you are doing in digital in the context of that wider engagement. And that is healthy because it is easy to get locked into the perspective, and the prejudices of your own discipline.
What challenges do you think people (or companies) are facing in CX?
One of the key CX challenges organisations face relates to consistency. For example, say as customer I have a series of interactions with your business: phone, in-person, your social media, maybe an online self-service helpdesk. These interactions are scattered, in terms of context, channel and time. Some of them might be on the high-street, others at home, days, weeks, months apart. So, here is a problem. If each time I have to tell my story again, provide the same information I am going to get frustrated.
My view of your business might have started out with the idea that it is single unified entity. But after while I begin to feel that I am dealing with a loose bunch of functions that are not communicating with each other, not really part of one team. That might not be true, it might be just that you have overly cumbersome processes or that you haven’t thought enough about the impact of asking me for the same information. But in many ways it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not — I think it — and that starts to erode my idea of your business as reliable, as an organisation I can trust. And this problem started with this lack of consistency from a CX perspective.
What kind of strategies should businesses use to solve these?
Well it is necessary to plug the leaks, manage the gaps. Some of these are organisational challenges — getting processes to line up with each other and getting offline and online to play by the same rules. Others are technical challenges, make sure systems can talk to each other. And others again are design challenges — for example my online presence may have evolved into a whole mess of websites and other online assets that I have created over the last few years with varying interpretation of my brand. Or I don’t use the same core design principles across my regular and social media.
There are solutions. Selecting good foundational products, — like a solid Digital Experience Platform (DXP) which can enable you to gain control your wider digital surface — can make all the difference. And AI has a really important role to play here, for example today’s automated chat interfaces can give our customers a flexibility of interaction that is lacking in other traditional web-based applications, so long as we don’t have to repeat ourselves at a later time.
The solution to the kinds of problems I have discussed can vary, and some don’t have global solutions, we need to address the problem head on. But they all fall under this general idea of paying attention to customer experience as a kind of unifying principle. And I am suggesting that failing to address these kinds of challenges leads to the same thing, it erodes trust and in the long run we lose customers.
What is the future of CX?
What we are working toward is precisely looking for ways to bring that customer experience together, make it seamless, make sure that we are ready and responsive and have the data to hand at every interaction. But I think in the past we have been thinking a little too narrowly about this in terms of targeting and personalisation and closing the loop etc. The idea of consistency and joining the dots is bigger than that; it is also about making things better. This is essential both in terms of the consistency of experience and the way I bring a customer’s data together.
But equally we have to be careful about models that look like they are hoovering up and connecting every last bit of data on customers in order to try and control their behaviour. We need to use what we know about the user and their “type” without getting “creepy” and without putting them at a disadvantage. It can’t just be about getting customers to do what we (as marketers, salespeople, customer service agents etc.) want them to do without letting them know how and what we are doing.
In my view, the future of CX is about building trust. In the digital space this is going to involve combining classic UX principles about consistency, accessibility, user control etc. with a transparent and “non-creepy” use of data that reinforces these principles. And we also need to pay more attention to things like data security, system reliability, and make these values are communicated to the customer in all interactions they have with our services.
Our event has been postponed due to the Covid-19 virus but keep updated on our Twitter and register your interest.