Tag Archive innovation

Customer experience in the era of 3.0 FinTech

This article on FinTech was oringinally published on the CX Network. If you want to read another article on FinTech, you can read my take on the future of the ATM.
Credit: CX Network

Credit: CX Network

The 3rd generation of FinTech is fantastic news for customer experience in niche segments, says CX expert Gustavo Imhof.

The surge of technology-savvy and customer-centric entrants in the financial services industry has caused great disruption in the market, forcing the industry as a whole to enhance experiences delivered to customers – putting them in the driving seat, like almost every other industry has. However, for financial services the FinTEch transformation did not happen as swiftly as in other industries. As it happened over two decades, we can distinguish three very distinct dynamics within the industry.

David and Goliath, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, symbiosis; they perfectly illustrate the dynamics and the relationships we witnessed between FinTech up-spring and traditional financial services players since the early days of the dotcom craze.

In the early days, PayPal was the David to the banks’ Goliath, the small start-up that was there to upset the deep-routed balance in the current account landscape. Soon enough, international money transfer would be disrupted by new entrants like TransferWise, Azimo with lower fees and greater ease of use.

With traditional players reacting and trying to protect their established standing in the market, the dynamic changed towards one closer to the classic 1950s Looney Tunes cartoon Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

It might sound far-fetched, at first, but consider this for a moment:

  • Road Runner is constantly going much faster, iterating routes with incredible ease and pivoting when critical for success and survival
  • The Coyote is very, very smart and resourceful and devises great strategies to reach his goals
  • Much of Coyote’s plans are based around the exact same sort of paradigm (Acme products) and it appears incredibly complicated to move away from established practices
  • It does happen that Coyote catches Road Runner, but even then, the rewards are not perceived to be as massive a success as hoped.

If you were to replace Road Runner by FinTech and Coyote by traditional players, we find striking similarities with recent events in the industry, such as longer established institutions trying to copy new market entrants, creating and running incubators, hackathons, and taking interest in or outright buying-out the more agile and disruptive FinTech actors.

In the early days, PayPal was the David to the banks’ Goliath, the small start-up that was there to upset the deep-routed balance in the current account landscape.

There is however a new dynamic which surfaced recently. This dynamic has actually existed in nature long before the written word but was first described in the late 1800s: symbiosis. A symbiosis is the phenomenon of unlikely organism (FinTech and traditional organisations, in this case) living together in harmony in a mutually beneficial agreement.

Express Current Account for your front-line

You’ve probably heard the case for businesses empowering their front-line staff to delight customers and provide spectacular service recoveries (maybe your business even does it too). In many cases, these staff members have a budget they can spend on these individual interactions with customers. This can leads to burdensome processes to record, book keep and budget.

Tide is a current account platform which gives you a sort code and account number in five minutes, has no monthly fee (but a small transaction charge) and a credit card. And to put the cherry on top of the cake, they provide smart tools to streamline bookkeeping, admin and invoicing directly on a smartphone – accountant-free, which makes it incredibly easy to maintain afloat.

The above scenario would be significantly streamlined if a business was to open a current account for each of their locations, where they would deposit their ‘recovery allowance’ and harness the power of the automated reporting which allows tracking the expenses whenever required (i.e. as a source of insight alongside Voice of the Customer data or localised performance management).

A bank might well want to enter this space, and so they could. But with current accounts not being the most profitable products they can offer (it tends to be more of a step towards more profitable products such as mortgages), most banks would be better off allocating valuable resources into enhancing experiences delivered through critical journeys more in line with their leading products.

(Very) short-term ad-hoc car insurance

Remember the last time you had to borrow someone else’s car? It’s a conundrum where someone must choose between breaking the law and getting a hefty fine, or much paper work and headaches involved for a journey that could be as short as an hour.

Cuvva understands this is a broken journey many consumers are facing which is why they build an entire subscription-based business around this. Their offering is simple: drive any car by the hour, only pay for what you use and be insured in a matter of minutes rather than days whenever you need to drive a new car. Their product enables you to protect the car owner and yourself without even affecting their policy and their no-claims bonus.

In short, it’s a pay-as-you-go service for your car insurance. Obviously, as many services of this type, the minimum unit (here the hour) costs significantly more than if it was part of a tariff, but it does enable a quick, headache-free resolution to a pain point that is all too familiar to car insurance policyholders all over the UK.

This service could be easily mimicked by leading insurers but would signify a complete change in their business model should they want to follow a more pay-as-you-go approach. And people who are always on the road will probably prefer a tariff, which would represent a better deal for them.

How does this make a FinTech symbiosis?

A symbiosis is the phenomenon of unlikely organism (FinTech and traditional organisations, in this case) living together in harmony in a mutually beneficial agreement.

The offerings of tide and Cuvva are very niche and cater to an audience that is thus far inadequately catered to by the more established players. Yes, they are probably taking some business away from them, but it does not represent the core segment in their customer base (with traditional players investing heavily in CX, the journeys were simply too broken for these to be a priority).

On the other hand, it would be an extremely resource-intensive and herculean task for Cuvva to take on the leading insurers or for tide to become a full-service bank. With Cuvva and tide catering to these niche needs and the rest of the industry providing services to the greater population, FinTech finally found its place in the consumer landscape – not in antagonism but, on the contrary, co-habiting harmoniously. This new-found symbiosis is what I call: ‘next practice in the making’.

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Tomorrow’s home away from home: Custom-fit customer experience design*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK.

It is estimated that there are, around the world, more than 13.4 Million hotel rooms available every night. And if we were to add all other properties such as Airbnb, the number would be much larger. With so many rooms available, it was only a matter of time before customer experience design was to work its magic and transform these rooms into your home away from home. Leaving the traditional hotel behind, new thinking is transforming the industry, ensuring customers will find options that are always closer to what “home” really means for them.

As a nod to our latest article on customer experience design in fashion retail, the approaches we explore today are not designed to cater to every hotel guest.

Your room, your terms!

For most of us, being away from home and our loved ones is hard enough. If we need to adapt ourselves to a standard we do not usually abide by, it just gets more uncomfortable. Cachet World is the platform which understood the burden this represents to you. This solution vendor offers dynamic packaging capabilities. In other words, guests can customise their room from the bedding to the brand of shampoo and other perks. Gone are the days when you had to use the hotel branded shampoo that somehow ruins your hairstyle rather than sublimate it.

In the age of digital and personalised service, Cachet World takes you away from the one-size-fits all hotel room, ensuring guests can model the room to their individual needs and lifestyle. Any hotel adopting such an approach to customer experience design is in an enviable position to strategically drive their performance in the Personalisation and Time & Effort Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence.

Feeling at home while being away

Whilst the above example brings your hotel room as physically close as possible to what home means, another approach consists of making you feel at home by ensuring you can keep your habits.

At Hotel Buddy, in Germany, there is no staff at all, no reception clerk, nor breakfast waiters the next day. The hotel has been designed to let customers check in within minutes, grab the key and go to the room, without the need to utter a word. This is as close from home one could get.

The room offers all the amenities one could expect from being at home: free high-speed Wi-Fi, free coffee and breakfast and for the more tech-savvy: a smart TV and a tablet. This is complemented by express check-in and out. In this specific situation, the objective of the customer experience design is unequivocal: getting as close as possible to the habits and feelings of being at home.

Moving forward

Whilst these models won’t disrupt the industry in its totality, there are other innovations that have a broader appeal. Replacing the key to your room is one of the hottest trends of the last few years in customer experience design. We started the move from physical keys to key cards in the 1980s, our decade is focusing on eliminating the key altogether: some integrate it to your Smartphone, like Hilton with their HHonors App, others replace it with some wearables, such as PDC’s Smart Band® with a wristband (or a smartwatch for others). Similarly to the ATM for banks, the hotel key card is meeting an increasing number of alternatives to replaced it as the industry’s standard.

These CX efforts have wide-ranging applications and should inspire many on how experiences could be redesigned – including through the removal of a journey stage altogether.

Take this inspiration home, consider how to apply it in your industry and sleep on it. As the saying goes, the night brings counsel.

 

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When customer experience strategy suits up*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK.

It’s time to talk about a very polarizing topic. A topic that has been the Achilles’ tendon of many nascent (and more lasting) relationships… clothing shopping! Rumour has it that women enjoy it whilst men loathe it.

Love it or hate it, buying clothing is an experience all of us need to go through. Innovative customer experience strategy did not spare the fashion retail industry – which was probably the least impacted by the internet as we already discussed. The new focus on catering to the customers’ needs is bringing a number of ways to sublimate our usual shopping experience or to redesign it altogether.

This new generation of customer experience strategy probably will suit most of us like a glove, regardless of where we sit on the shopping enjoyment spectrum. The below innovations will certainly feel like, dare we say, a perfect fit for many of us.

Tell me what reaction to expect

What we wear greatly impacts how we are seen by others and therefore, this is a key driver of consumption in fashion retail. Aware of the critical role of the social proof, O2 Business introduced a clothing rail with a bubble which can be found above each item (with real-time data coming directly from Facebook and Instagram likes). With the latest information on how popular an item actually is, customers can know what reaction to expect once using the product.

This initiative drastically improves the experience of fashionistas and other shopping aficionados and will naturally deliver strongly against the following pillars of customer experience excellence; Expectations, Integrity and Time & Effort, by offering a fast, convenient and honest way of knowing how people will feel about your latest acquisition. For those more wary about buying apparel, this social proof system helps them feel more confident with their latest purchase, backed up by cold data.

Taking away the chore of shopping

That being said, this change could be coined as being incremental. Some innovations can, however, completely disrupt an industry (we saw this recently with Tesla Motors). The start-up Hointer defines its mission as “to create the future of in-store shopping experience”.

Exit the piles of clothing with all the stock exposed to the customer’s view. When you enter the store, all you will see is an elegant and uncluttered store, with only one piece of each item being displayed – or rather, showcased, which basically gives you a ‘one glance view’ of the range of products offered. Using the brand’s app, you can scan the QR code displayed with that top you’ve fallen in love with. The app will ask what size you would want to try and, once you’ve answered, will tell you to which fitting room to go. The item will be waiting there for you. All you need to do is to try it on and make up your mind. If you return it (throwing it in a hole), it will be taken away from your cart on the app. If you want to keep it, you can simply pay within the app.

Thanks to this novel customer experience strategy, the chore of shopping gets significantly less fastidious: find what you might like, scan it, identify what size you want, go to the fitting room and make a decision. No more zoning around and searching among 25 exemplars of that same t-shirt, just to realise they have all the possible sizes (even those you did not know existed!) but yours. This straightforward approach requiring limited effort from the customer resonates strongly with one of our latest tips in journey design, whilst also offering ideas on how to improve your Time & Effort Pillar of customer experience.

Beyond its contributions to an exceptional customer experience, Hointer have many operational arguments going for them: the store requires less floor space, less staff and can benefit from massive operational improvements (e.g. tidiness and freeing up staff to deliver better experiences).

These two examples pinpoint to a very important principle in customer experience: the one-size-fits all approach is dead. What suits one customer will not necessarily please every other single customer. What truly matters is whether a sizable share of customers will approve and go in the sense of these unusual customer experience strategy ideas, with the belief that this will indeed transform their interactions for the better.

 

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Customer experience strategy: sometimes, less is more*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK. It was re-published on Enage Customer.

The Jazz genius Miles Davis, behind Kind of Blue and Tutu, was one of the most influential musicians of the past century. To this day, his words keep inspiring and even offer us a simple but powerful rule in customer experience strategy:

“I always listen to what I can leave out.” 

Although referring to his compositions, this approach is extremely fitting for one key practice of customer experience strategy: journey mapping. Businesses, with a vision of delighting customers, tend to provide fancy and overly complex journeys, with many stages to showcase their expertise and wealth of services. It doesn’t have to be that way though, and the leading companies understand this.

When a journey stage becomes obsolete

Many industries were born way before our age of technology and abundance of data. When an innovation comes along, companies have shown to be able to adapt themselves (retailtravel or financial services have been a few we have observed recently). However, what happens when a process becomes outdated? The answer is “take it away” – or leave it out, to pay tribute to Miles Davis – and unfortunately, companies are not always as quick to acknowledge and act upon this.

There are some companies, however, that are bold enough to do so. JetBlue Airways realised that the once necessary check-in process for a flight no longer had a reason to exist. Put in place at an age and time where airlines depended on travel agents to sell seats and manage its inventory, the check-in principally served to ensure you were at the airport so that they knew where you were. With today’s technology and fast-moving operations, the process no longer had a reason to exist. Whilst many airlines decided to simplify the process by providing online check-in, JetBlue went the extra step and understood it could leave it out.

As a consequence, JetBlue passengers are automatically checked in for their flights, with seat allocation based on their travel history and preferences. With staff being freed up from this procedure, it provided them with more opportunities to service and delight their passengers before the flight. This certainly contributes greatly to a good performance in Time & Effort, Expectations and Empathy.

Companies like JetBlue demonstrate that a good strategy can be taking steps away, rather than adding in. Or as Miles Davis would aptly say:

“If you don’t know what to play, play nothing.”

This translates into a key rule of customer experience strategy: if you don’t know what value the stage brings, leave it out.

Eating out – at its simplest

The restaurant industry is another example of how simplifying the experience can transform the journey of the customer. Many restaurants have adopted a connected approach to delivering their services, with orders going directly from the ordering terminal (nowadays, often a smartphone or tablet) to the kitchen, without the waiter even leaving your table. Sometimes, I get served my entrees whilst my party is still chatting with the waiter.

The pattern we mentioned with the airline industry is clearly found here again. Whilst the connected system has been widely implemented, very few went another route. Eatsa, a new Californian restaurant, decided to strip the experience down to its simplest.

Eatsa is unique in that there is no human interaction required for you to enjoy your meal – although the restaurant is staffed. Come in and order your food on a tablet kiosk. The team in the kitchen will prepare your food and it will come to you. When the food is ready and served, the appropriate locker will display the customers’ name and light up. Take your order and enjoy it. Next time, the system will even remember your past visits and recommend dishes you might like to try.

Eatsa’s customer experience strategy clearly differs from the rest of the industry. The fact that they recently announced expansion plans hints to the idea that many customers are buying into the concept. One question being: how would service failure be addressed in these cases?

The key learning from our two examples can, once more, be summed up using Miles Davis’ own words:

“It’s not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”

More often than not, excellent customer experience strategy is about change: seeing how things are being done and how to change this for the better. Always look for what you can leave out. After all, sometimes, less is more.

 

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Customer Experience Best Practice: Tesla the Disruptive*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK. It was then re-published on Engage Customer.

Tesla has been all over the news and is one of the newest disruptors around. Point in case: this month, Tesla, led by the visionary Elon Musk, established an expressive record: the biggest ever launch for a product totaling more than £10 billion worth of revenue (in reservations for its Model 3).

Musk’s company started in 2003 with its entire business revolving around providing a fully electric car and with free recharge. For years, they were laughed at, and discredited. Until their first model, the Tesla Roadster, hit the American market in 2008. What led to such a success goes far beyond the product: experts report loyalty and advocacy levels that are simply unheard of.

Tesla happens to be a great example of customer experience best practice and how a successful strategy can redefine the state of the art customer experience design.

Tesla rethinks the selling and customer service models

In the automotive industry, carmakers focus on the product and marketing of their products and leave the selling and customer service to their partners. Tesla doesn’t have any reselling partners and its electric cars do not require as much regular maintenance as a traditional car. More importantly, the retail location is not primarily focused on selling (unlike dealerships) but rather on allowing customers to experience the brand, its philosophy and get a feel for the cars. The differential of Tesla Motors is that it takes ownership of the experience, which, in their case, is a clear customer experience best practice strategy.

When you purchase a Tesla (be it online or in the store), the car will be delivered to you, wherever you want it. Or you could pick it up at the factory and get a free tour of the factory with your friends.

If there are any issues with your car, they’ll pick it up, provide you with a replacement car and repair it – removing the need to bring the vehicle to the repair centre. If the issue is related to its software, the engineers can in many situations update the car, at a distance, during the night and have the customer delighted the next morning. In many instances, car owners were offered spontaneous updates and extra features at no cost. These aspects of the Tesla experience are unique to the carmaker and are excellent examples of their customer experience best practice through actions in the Expectations and Time & Effort Pillars of customer experience. No wonder customers are loyal and more than 300,000 people reserved their Model 3 (launching in 2017, some people will have to be willing to wait at least a couple of years before being proud owners of a Tesla car)!

A full service approach

Tesla goes beyond offering a great product and exceptional support around it. Their commitment to their vision is so strong they actually have put together a comprehensive network of recharging stations across the United States and Europe. Its charging stations are conveniently located on the highway and near hotels, shopping malls and restaurants they partner with.

The real learning from the approach Tesla takes to the network can help shape many customer experience best practice strategies.

The network is necessary for Tesla to sell its fleet of cars. But beyond that, the tech-company offers their customers a clear trade-off: free or fast. The supercharger offers a 50% battery charge in only 20 minutes – and is free for life on its Model S (to the best of our knowledge, it hasn’t been announced whether this will be carried on for the Model 3). But what if 20 minutes is too long for you? Provided you’re willing to pay the equivalent price of a regular gasoline tank fill, you will be able to exchange your car’s battery for a new, fully charged, one. The time it takes? Reportedly, 90 seconds.

The reason their strategy is so critical

Tesla is in the enviable position of defining what customers will come to expect from the automotive industry. This will ultimately end up being reshaped according to their own strengths and ambitions; a strategy to which competitors will have to abide by. This is true customer experience best practice.

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