Customer Experience

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An Executive Guide to the Fall 2019 Issue

This guide to the Fall 2019 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review summarize the issue’s key articles. The articles discuss finding better ways to collaborate; how to give customers what they’re looking for; the organized ecosystem of Dark Web cybercrime; and how algorithms can reduce bias.

The Best of This Week

  • Read Time: 2 min 

The must-reads MIT SMR editors are most excited about this week, including: Why emotion is a key ingredient for getting customer experiences to stick, what we can learn from Germany’s platform economy, the best leader for your digital transformation effort might not be the obvious candidate, and more.

The Magic That Makes Customer Experiences Stick

Research has shown that memorable experiences can drive customer decisions as much as price and functionality. Yet there have been few meaningful improvements in customer experience over time. The missing ingredient? Emotion. Customers want their choices to align as much with their feelings and senses as with their values and ethics. The rational approaches taught at most business schools — offer more value for money, add features, make service more efficient — are not enough.

Sponsor's Content | The New Era of Personalization: Why CPG Brands Must Own the Direct-to-Consumer Experience

  • MIT SMR Connections | Executive Scholar Exchange

As consumers gain more choices in how they buy products and interact with brands, consumer packaged goods companies can no longer rely on retailers for sales customer feedback. Instead, brands must take a direct-to-consumer approach across the life span of the customer relationship.

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Why Personalization Matters for Consumer Privacy

Many different factors determine how consumers balance data privacy against a desire for personalized products and services — age, geography, and education among them. Companies can help their customers feel more comfortable with the data collection needed for personalized service by understanding customer values and maintaining transparency and good communication when it comes to data collection.

Customer Centricity in the Digital Age

  • Read Time: 4 min 

As AI moves from the hype stage to implementation within organizations, retailers and marketers have new competitive opportunities with customer centricity. AI enables companies to apply data about their customers’ wants, needs, and preferences to customize their offerings, create personalized shopping experiences, and make the purchase process simpler and more convenient.

How Customer Obsession Creates Accountability for Change

  • Read Time: 7 min 

Organizational change is difficult. Some 70% of change efforts fail, and awareness hasn’t improved the odds of success. But there are exceptional companies, making strides with everything from digital transformation to employee engagement to diversity and inclusion. And they have one thing in common: They are customer-obsessed. When customers are truly at the center of your business, change proceeds from one organizing principle: What’s best for them?

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Grow Faster by Changing Your Innovation Narrative

Companies aspiring to organic growth leadership in their industries should start with a coherent, affirming innovation narrative and reinforce it with action. The authors tested 18 well-known innovation levers and identified the four that organic growth leaders use most to stay ahead of competitors: (1) invest in innovation talent, (2) encourage prudent risk-taking, (3) adopt a customer-centric innovation process, and (4) align metrics and recognition with innovation activity.

The Public Sector Can Teach Us a Lot About Digitizing Customer Service

Digital customer service agents (known as virtual assistants, chatbots, or softbots) are typically used to sift through and process only the most straightforward customer inquiries, such as requests for basic information. At most companies, complex issues get passed along to human agents. In that regard, public sector agencies in Australia are ahead of the curve: They are using digital agents to handle complex inquiries from citizens, and businesses stand to learn much from these applications.

How Should Companies Talk to Customers Online?

Digital customer service is becoming more widely adopted, but one place it falls short is in the language and phrases it uses. Many digital service platforms use words that alienate customers rather than engage them; selecting customer-centric language for chatbots and service platforms can make a significant difference in customer satisfaction.

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Why Customer Experience Is Key for Loyalty Programs

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Loyalty programs provide great value for companies by driving higher sales and boosting brand affinity. However, companies employing traditional “earn-and-burn” rewards programs for customers may miss out on long-term benefits. Tailoring programs to offer great customer experience is key — and when companies implement both types of benefits into their programs, they’re more likely to beat out competitors and build brand loyalty.

Three Signals Your Industry Is About to Be Disrupted

Emerging technology and new business models have created new ways of serving customers and allowed digital leaders to disrupt traditional companies. Disruption rarely comes out of nowhere, however: There are common patterns to learn from and three major signals to recognize in evaluating the risk for your industry.

The Store Is Dead — Long Live the Store

At the same time that many traditional retailers are closing offline stores, digitally native vertical brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker are aggressively expanding into offline locations. And both online and offline retailers are converging in experience-oriented “showrooms.”

Driving Operational Cost Savings With the Internet of Things

AI and IoT offer significant benefits — as yet untapped — for facilities maintenance. In most large companies, maintenance and repair is done piecemeal with tremendous inefficiency, something automated, data-centered management practices could reduce. Operations executives should take notice, because the companies that allocate resources toward putting technology to work in this area are likely to gain an important competitive advantage.

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