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How the digital experience is driving customer retention

Blog: Lombardi - Process People

imageThis week, I’m at the IBM Digital Experience Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Finally! 

I say “finally” not just because I’m excited to be here (which I am!), but because it took me much longer to get here than I expected. Due to some inclement weather across the eastern seaboard, my flight to Atlanta was cancelled. 

After some time waiting in line at the airport, then on hold on the phone, then on the website, then on the phone again, I was finally able to rebook my flight, get a hotel room near my departure airport, change my hotel reservation in Atlanta, and eventually, board my flight en route to Atlanta yesterday morning. 

It was a very long and frustrating experience. It was also a very fitting case in point for why the digital customer experience is so important.

In fact, this was the main topic of one of the conference sessions I attended yesterday, “Reinventing Business Operations for Digital Self Service.” The presenter, David Millen, who also writes for this blog, talked about how digital is no longer the primary driver of customer engagement; it is now also the primary driver of customer satisfaction.   

Research shows that higher customer satisfaction also drives higher share of wallet. According to Millen, top performing companies are recognizing this, and 22 percent of fortune 100 companies now have a Chief Customer Officer; someone who is focused on end-to-end customer operations. 

Notice that I said customer operations, not customer experience. That’s because delivering a differentiated digital customer experience doesn’t happen by accident–business processes need to be configured to support that end-to-end experience. 

Let’s go back to my flight cancellation example. Any time a flight is cancelled, it can be frustrating, but people who fly often know that this is a reality that must be expected from time to time. It’s really how the airline handles your setbacks, rather than the setbacks themselves, that can make or break the customer experience and more importantly, a customer’s choice to fly with the airline again. One of the reasons why my cancellation was so frustrating was because the rebooking process was not simple. Although I had booked my trip online, to rebook, I was asked to wait in line at the airport in a queue that held more than a hundred people. Why?

These days, many booking companies are equipped to send flight delay or cancellation notifications. Instead, what if through the power of business rules, the booking company that I used was also able to alert me of an option to rebook online? I would have much preferred to easily view all of the available options on my mobile device, choose a flight, and be on my way. Since I had chosen to fly out the next day, my booking company could then have intelligently asked me if I wanted a hotel room near the airport, and also shown me pricing and available options for nearby hotels.

To support a scenario like this, Systems of Engagement, Systems of Record and Systems of Insight all must work together. That’s why the combination of IBM’s Digital Experience and Smarter Process solutions is so powerful.

Keep following me this week for more on how IBM is helping companies build an exceptional digital experience.

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