The Year Ahead: Digital Shall Become a Table Stake in CX

Hrishi Talwar, Vice President, Digital Identity and Mobile Products, Equifax
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Hrishi Talwar, Vice President, Digital Identity and Mobile Products, Equifax

Hrishi Talwar, Vice President, Digital Identity and Mobile Products, Equifax

Here’s the scenario: Chris is a young professional who wants to impress his new girlfriend with a really nice birthday gift. However, time is not on his side, and his budget is quite strict as well. It’s Wednesday and her birthday is on Friday. He first uses his mobile device to do some online browsing of a high-end retailer where he holds a credit card. After a short search, he finds the perfect gift–a bracelet. Not wanting to spend the extra money to have the product priority shipped, he searches the site to see if the product is in stock at the physical retail location–a mall about 20 minutes away. Going there would be the decision.

When he gets to the retailer, he doesn’t find the exact bracelet that he found online. Instead, he finds one that he thinks she will like even better. It’s more expensive, but she’s worth it he tells himself. Though the final sales price of the bracelet would take him over his credit card limit, the sales clerk tells him that he may qualify for an increase on his credit card limit to complete the purchase. She gives him a toll free number and asks him politely to step out of line to make the call. Chris obliges, considering he would rather not use his personal funds for the purchase. Chris decides to browse a few other stores in the mall while he’s on hold and then come back for the bracelet later after being on hold for several minutes.

 From retailers to real estate, business and government agencies alike must understand that digital is not just a channel, but an experience and a key strategic component for Customer Experience   

You can speculate about what happens next on Chris’ journey for the perfect gift for his new girlfriend. What we do know is the retailer in question did not make this an easy customer experience for him, and likely missed out on completing a transaction. What’s the likelihood of Chris returning to purchase the bracelet? And if he does return, how many more transactions like this can Chris withstand before he realizes he can go elsewhere for a better experience? Not creating a seamless experience appears to be a big mistake that retailers and other businesses continue to make. Take this same scenario and make it relevant for any business that needs to simplify and streamline the digital experience for consumers as they:

• shop for products,
• apply for a line of credit,
• open a new account, pay for services,
• accept a product or credit offer,
• register for government services,
• request a ride share, find a rental property and the list goes on and on–and it applies.

From retailers to real estate, business and government agencies alike must understand that digital is not just a channel, but an experience and a key strategic component for Customer Experience (CX).

Digital devices have made consumers more on the go. Consumers expect a frictionless, consistent and user-friendly digital interaction with businesses. Businesses that have not incorporated frictionless user experience into their digital strategy are potentially being left behind. If the empowered consumer is the driver–shopping and browsing promiscuously for the best deals and services–then digital is the vehicle that gives them the ability to go where they want. Businesses cannot afford to treat digital as some ancillary channel that might add something relevant to the consumer experience.

Sophisticated businesses know why customer experience is important, with 76 percent of executives in 2015 citing it is a high or critical priority. But fast forward to 2017 and Forrester’s Data Customer Experience survey finds CX is not great nor has it improved. Here’s the reason why: Customer experience without a closed-loop digital process cannot deliver the desired results for today’s hyper-connected world where most transactions take place via mobile devices.

Successful businesses have generally integrated digital with their customer experience strategy, while others lag far behind, foregoing business growth and customer loyalty. The consumers have spoken and their loyalty has an expiration date, giving businesses only a short period of time to play catch up before they move on without them. To the earlier scenario with Chris, in a perfect world, he would have known via his mobile shopping experience if the bracelet was in stock in a physical location; and the store would not ask him to step aside to call some toll free number that placed him on hold. He could have been easily approved for a credit limit increase at the counter in a matter of seconds, and he would have his girlfriend’s bracelet and they would live happily ever after…use your imagination.

Businesses must devise a customer experience strategy that employs unique and differentiated data sources, flexible and innovative technology and expertise in identity resolution, credit and fraud risk and consumer experience—offer solutions for businesses that drive better digital experiences for their consumers. This will help consumers more easily and efficiently interact with a mobile application or website to complete transactions. For instance, digital authentication elements can simplify and streamline experiences for customers for a more enhanced and engaging “mobile meets brand” experience.

Businesses can help reduce cart abandonment and frustration, increase cart size, better target credit-eligible consumers and increase the number of applications likely to be approved, enable faster checkout and payment processes, and help reduce key entry errors by creating a better digital experience for consumers. Businesses can deliver an experience that is immediate to a captive audience, whenever and wherever they are.

At this very moment, businesses (your competitors) are probably thinking up ways to go even further into the future with customer experience solutions. For instance, a large retail bank that partners with a gas company for a gas card has already developed an app that allows customers to apply for a card and immediately pay at the pump. They simplified the process by authenticating consumers and prefilling their credit applications within the app. The consumer can apply, be approved, pump their gas, receive a discount and be on their way, allowing the company to capitalize on a captive consumer audience, acquire new customers and streamline the entire process.

By the time all businesses are fully up to speed on the latest digital technologies, think of where the consumer-centric organizations will be at that time.

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