Digital Technology
Apr 12, 2018

The customer experience iceberg

We've all been there. You wait in a long checkout line only to be politely told by the cashier," I'm afraid your credit card has been declined." So, you get on a phone call with the bank's customer service representative, who apologizes and sheepishly informs you that their algorithm detected unusual usage patterns commonly associated with card theft or fraud. You answer a series of questions about your identity and account information, after which you're shuttled off to another warm and friendly representative who asks the same questions all over again. Will you care about their great attitude, if you are transferred again and they can't enable your transaction?

Probably not.

What customers want is an easy experience – no hassle, no friction, and no excuses. It sounds simple, yet we see many companies struggling to provide a good customer experience, despite investing in digital technologies to transform every customer-facing interaction and process. As it turns out, this customer experience puzzle resonated a lot with business leaders at Genpact's “Enterprise of the Future" event in New York last month. If it keeps you up at night, too, here are three tips to fix your company's customer experience.

Back up the digital front

When it comes to digital transformation, most companies invest as much as they can in customer-facing processes in the front end, while the back-end operations remain overlooked. The majority of customer interactions, however, are intertwined with a series of services and processes, behind the scenes, across middle- and back-office teams, even though the customer is rarely aware of their existence.

Banks are a good example. They might be able to set up a checking account in a matter of hours, but they can't fulfill compliance requirements and back office processes to activate the account at the same pace. The benefits of a new web and mobile enabled interface with a single customer view across channels and marketing automation are quickly lost because they left out the backend. So cleaning up the front office and plugging it into an old back office with a fragmented and slow flow of transactional work, often done by manual and legacy systems, can only result in suboptimal digital efforts.

Break silos

Breaking down operational and hierarchical silos and creating an automated data flow between departments is probably the most challenging yet essential part of creating a customer-centric organization. While the customer experience is a common priority, different departments, from marketing to operations, human resources and finance, collect and store data in their disparate silos and are often focused on their own goals, sometimes creating internal roadblocks for each other. Unifying these processes, systems and data structures might need a big change in culture and data governance practices.

Focus on operational improvement

Any large-scale technology-mediated change involves digital tools, but that's just the starting point. Digital transformation can't improve customer experience by simply adding digital technologies to the existing workflow. Technologies, such as artificial intelligence and predictive insights, need to be embedded into the fabric of business processes, because they have the power to reinvent the nature of work and the business value chain. Sometimes, that might even entail rethinking what you sell, how you make and sell it, and how customers use it. Digital transformations work only when they are used to streamline operations and take out costs to create new experiences. 

So, coming back to the bank that denied its customer a genuine credit card transaction. How can it create a better customer experience? A faster or better algorithm alone won't work. The bank must first figure out whether its business processes need more speed, certainty, cross-validation algorithms in certain specific situations, or better integration and data flow between front-, middle-, and back-office operations.

About the author

Gianni Giacomelli

Gianni Giacomelli

Chief Innovation Leader

Gianni serves as Chief Innovation Leader where he drives and sponsors Genpact’s strategic initiatives aimed at sustaining clients’ transformation into digitally-enabled companies. He also co-leads the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) efforts to set up a Collective Intelligence Design Lab.