Hi Martijn, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am a Customer Experience expert with over 15 years of experience in designing and building marketing, customer service, and ecommerce solutions in retail and manufacturing. I am currently working at Capgemini, a global leader in Digital Customer Experience, helping many of our clients to be digital leaders in their market. Previously I worked at a digital agency building digital marketing and ecommerce solutions for well-known brands. This was my first job after graduating as Bachelor of Science in 2007.
How did you first start working in the CX space?
I started as a developer as my first job at a Digital Agency in 2007. We were building the new website for Volkswagen and one of the requirements was to build a car configurator. Ecommerce was on the rise, but not yet for the automotive sector. Cars are very complex products with lots of variants and combinations. We started this project using the Hybris ecommerce solution. Hybris was well known as an ecommerce solution that can handle very complex products. The car configurator turned out to be a very complex puzzle, and I wanted to crack that. So, I investigated the Hybris solution, learned all about it, got myself certified, and became a Solution Architect on Hybris. This was still Hybris 4.5 and not yet acquired by SAP.
Later I was involved in more projects where Hybris was the Ecommerce engine, like a B2B portal for Heineken, Medtronic, and Shimano and a B2C portal for Prominent. In these projects, I learned more about the business value and business processes of ecommerce and how it is tightly connected with Marketing and Customer Service.
What are some of the common misunderstandings related to customer experience?
A common misunderstanding, I come across is companies trying to improve the customer experience from an inside-out perspective. I have been in projects to improve Customer Service journeys without any involvement or feedback from customers as a driver. “The most asked question to our agents is ‘Where is my order’, so we need to provide real-time insights to our agents on customers order delivery”. Although this is a valid case in most situations, perhaps the issue is with fulfillment. If you promise a 24-hour delivery, and the customers will get their products in 24 hours, they don’t need to call customer services.
You need to look at customer experience from an outside-in view. Ask your customers what they want, involve them in prototyping, and build what they need. And by keep gathering customer feedback, improve the solution.
Have you seen any interesting new trends in eCommerce this year?
I see 2 big trends in Ecommerce for this year; one is technology-driven and the other is a result of the pandemic. With new technologies in payment, customers expect to pay for products and services in a Touchless way. Customers expect to swipe their mobile phone or smartwatch on the way out when buying their products or services without any human interaction. Gartner predicts that by 2024, 80% of ordering and replenishment will be touchless for most organizations .
The first adopters of this technology are grocery stores. I can’t remember the last time when I had to put all my groceries on a belt and waiting in line for the cashier to scan all products. Shopping for groceries is now faster and more efficient. Customers tend to prefer companies that adopt this new technology, especially when it is combined with 24-hours home delivery and voice-based commerce like Alexa or Google Assistant.
The other trend is more related to supply chain and logistics and a result of the pandemic. Customers want to know if the products they ordered are handled carefully and safely in terms of hygiene and health. It requires companies to give full transparency on the supply chain to the door of the customer. Manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of goods must be done in COVID-preventing ways to get the trust of the customer. Of course, this relates to the previous trend I mentioned; the fewer people ‘touching’ the product, the better.
These upcoming trends have a major impact on your platform technology. I believe no Ecommerce solution vendor can support the new technologies out-of-the-box. A modern ecommerce platform, therefore, needs to be flexible and easy to extend. The technology ‘trend’ of microservices and headless architecture is no longer a trend, but a requirement to be able to adopt these new technologies. Designing or choosing an ecommerce platform is no longer just on ecommerce capabilities like shopping carts, price and promotions, and order management. More important is the ease of integration and extensibility. Can you integrate the ecommerce platform with your back-office landscape or 3rd party solution providers? And can you easily build custom functionality to support your unique business processes?
eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?
I agree that customer feedback and reviews are key to success. However, I believe that reviews about your brand, your order and delivery process, and your aftersales support are much more important than a review of the product.
Customers buy from brands they trust and value. You may have a great product, but if customers do not trust you, or they have a bad experience in the delivery, they buy the product elsewhere. Gartner’s study says “that almost 50% of consumers say that they will stop doing business with a brand when it fails to deliver on its promises”. Customers expect more brands today, not about the product or service, “but also in terms of how brands treat their customers, their employees and the environment.”
To build and nurture this trusted relationship with your customers it is important to focus on the following key topics:
- Be transparent about the customer data you collect and use. Ask for consent, store customer data transparently, and allow customers to change, or even remove, their data with self-service capabilities
- Focus on Customer Satisfaction KPI’s. Many brands still focus on operational KPIs like sales, average response time, etc. I believe KPI’s like customer satisfaction, first-time-right, and customer retention is more powerful. Put these KPIs at the heart of your company.
- Ask for customer feedback on the entire customer journey. And use this feedback to improve your product, service, or ordering process. Keep in mind that a happy customer is a returning customer.
What are some CX solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
When I discuss CX topics with clients, the most asked solution currently is about Customer Data. Brands are investing heavily in solutions for Identity and Access Management (CIAM), Consent Management, Customer 360º Profiles, and a Customer Data Platform.
Especially Customer Data Platform I find very interesting. It is a very technical solution, as it requires many integrations and data transformation, but it can be very powerful to serve your customers with personalized conversations. The CDP is a solution that unifies ANY type of activity and data around a customer. It uses 1st party data such a customer profile, customer feedback, customer transactions, and customer social interactions to create a true 360º customer view. From that, the CDP can activate the customers by sending triggers or segments to the engagement platforms, such as Service or Marketing solutions.
I believe a CDP solution is crucial in these times of hyper-personalization.
As said before it is also crucial to gather customer feedback to identify improvements and track customer KPI’s. Many solutions bring these capabilities, each with its strength. My advice is to look for solutions that provide you with insights and recommendations, or otherwise be prepared to create an army of data analysts.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
I like any CX metric that focuses on the customer and is feedback coming from the customer directly.
But please don’t be fooled by NPS, this is a misleading KPI. NPS will only tell you a customer feels about your brand at that point in their journey. Next to that, the question behind NPS is wrong. “Would you recommend the brand/product/service?” After a good experience, customers tend to say yes and give an 8-10 score. However, there is no indication that the customer, when meeting his friends at a party, will actually recommend it to them. A high NPS score is misleading to management because it can give the impression there is a lot of positive word of mouth occurring about their brand when there’s not.
My strong recommendation is to measure CX KPIs over the entire customer journey and invest in tools that give your actionable insights.