Monday, 21 December 2015

2016 TIPPED AS ‘YEAR OF THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY’


CUSTOMERS CALL THE SHOTS AS COMPETITIVE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT HOTS UP
CYCLE TO HOT UP TOWARDS EXPO 2020

The coming year will see Gulf companies increasingly focused on customer experience delivery as they battle with heightened competitiveness, according to the Emirates’ leading expert in customer service delivery.
Robert Keay, founder and CEO of Dubai-headquartered Ethos Integrated Solutions says 2016 will see a sustained rise of the ‘Experience Economy’ with business developers and marketeers bent on ensuring their companies deliver superior customer service for stand-out experiences which differentiate their products and services.
“It’s a transformational era,” said Keay. “Customer service will emigrate fully to marketing departments who will need to take control of the customer experience. It’s no longer enough to have good products and services, with consumers now having pricing, product and service information at their fingertips, superior experiences will be what sets organisations apart and deliver growth – and they will spread the word digitally faster than ever so the need to track, respond and sometimes amend will be paramount.  
“It’s essential now that the whole customer experience journey is mapped to align experiences with the brand promise and to ensure operations to deliver high-value, personalised experiences. And it will require the buy-in of all in the supply chain – from the CEO to the merchandiser on the shop floor and the after-sales personnel.
“In the digital age, more is known about individual consumers who want experiences tailored to them and as this transformation takes hold, the customer is in the driving seat.”
Within the region, Keay says there is an upswing in customer experience delivery but there’s still a way to go. Evidence of the uptake came in the 2015 Service Olympian Awards programme, organised annually by Ethos, the only independent honours which recognise the country’s customer service leaders.
Some 180 entries the UAE’s government, finance, hospitality, healthcare, telecoms, retail and aviation sectors were received this year for the 21 awards which are independently judged by a team of customer service experts.
“Entries this year were significantly up on previous editions and the quality of application was excellent, better than ever and competition was very intense,” said Keay. “Standards are rising, albeit not uniformly, however the judges agree the trend towards customer service in the UAE is clearly positive.
“There is an increasing focus on customer experience in both the public and private sector. This is not just a theoretical discussion, but they are taking actual measures to improve their customer experience delivery. Organisations are considering increasing their investments in customer experience delivery.  They are implementing customer journey mapping initiatives and as a whole focusing more and more on the customer experience as a key success factor.
“This trend will gain momentum as we move towards delivery of Expo 2020. Visitors will have high expectations linked with Brand Dubai and many the emirate’s key organisations – this will filter through all other segments.”
Keay says the 2015 Service Olympian Awards show that UAE companies and organisations are increasingly identifying key strategic elements which guide their corporate performance and behaviour and allow and motivate all of their supply chain partners to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
“Companies and organisations increasingly understand the commercial importance of the customer as the sole source of revenue and are designing programmes and processes necessary to allow and motivate all of their people and partners to achieve the objectives required to deliver an outstanding customer experience.
“There appears to be policies and resources in place – mainly in the public sector but the private sector is catching up - to ensure all supply chain stakeholders are implementing a comprehensive experience excellence strategy.
“They are also applying – mostly in the public sector but again the private sector is increasingly gaining ground - regular and comprehensive customer experience measures which act as drivers to inform the organisation’s leaders, managers and staff of their level of performance and identify elements requiring improvement to sustain competitive or operational advantage in many parts of their supply chain.”
In readiness for the uptake, Ethos has developed unique online solutions aimed at helping organisations evaluate, track and develop their customer experience, including KnowledgeTrak, a smart-phone enabled, multi-purpose solution which can help survey competitors, evaluate experiences, facilities real time GPS tracking to enable costs to be reduced, sales to be improved and customer loyalty built.  
“Our next product, which will be coming to market soon will take KnowledgeTrak into a multi-channel product which will enable organisations to map the full customer experience journey,” explained Keay. “It’s been developed in the UK with assistance from our UAE headquarters which has 10 years customer service experience in the region and an unrivalled data-base and resources from our expansive mystery shopping community.”

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