The age of the customer. Possibly no term better illustrates the current era of business. Customers expect their experience to be flawless at every touchpoint, and with competitors only a click (or tap) away, company leaders have a strong incentive to deliver. Online retailers have set a high standard in the way that they engage customers on an ongoing basis—not just during the commercial transaction, but before, during and after each interaction with the customer. Can service providers in industries such as banking, insurance, healthcare and government meet the challenge? “Amazon, Apple and Netflix provide the customer satisfaction bench-marks to which banks must aspire,” according to Bank Systems and Technology.1 Studies have shown that customers today are changing service providers much faster than ever. According to recent surveys, 70 percent more customers considered changing banks in the year 2012 than in 2011, and 70 percent of insurance customers’ loyalty is at risk. In both industries, the surveys identified customer service as one of the main factors in decisions to join or leave a provider. The situation is comparable in other service industries such as health care, government, utilities and transportation; in these service industries, retention is a key issue since customers are constantly evaluating whether the service level, seamlessness and simplicity of their experience is as good as they can get elsewhere. For example, a recent study shows3 that USD5 billion is “up for grabs” for health insurers who can simplify the health insurance process.Providing a superior customer experience is not easy, and gone are the days when most customer interactions can be smoothed over by empathetic service representatives. In an omni-channel world, customer touchpoints are increasingly automated and companies will not get many chances to take the steps that are required to make things right. Unlike at any other time in his-tory, the quality of a company’s operations will shine through, for good or for bad, in virtually every interaction with the customer.
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