Brands Are Keeping Pace with Competitors, But Not with Customer Expectations: Study

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The biggest challenge blue chip companies facing today is not keeping pace with competitors but living up to the expectations of their customers. More than nine in ten companies are struggling to deliver digital customer experiences that exceed their customers’ expectations, according to a new study from Accenture Interactive.

In the survey, 52% of all respondents said that they’re ahead of their competitors at providing digital customer experiences, while only 7% said their company exceeds the expectations of their actual customers.  This is all because customer expectations are becoming “liquid” and changing at a lightning pace, says Accenture.

“Meeting customer expectations is by no means a small achievement,” said Anatoly Roytman, managing director, Accenture Interactive Europe, Africa, Middle East, Latin America. “However, it’s not enough anymore. Customer expectations are changing faster than ever and what people learn to love in one industry increasingly defines what they expect in other areas as well – we call this ‘liquid expectations.’ It’s now your customer who’s setting the bar, not your competitor.”

Businesses often take customer experience initiatives without consulting customers directly. “Companies should stay closer to customers to learn their needs and preferences directly from them,” the report has suggested.

While 81% of all respondents believe that it is important to involve customers in customer experience efforts, only 57% actually take this perspective. The findings show that many companies fail at measuring what they know they should, too. For example, 90% see value in churn metrics, but less than 40% capture them.

The study has once again confirmed that digital technology is helping companies to increase brand relevance, cost savings, customer loyalty, customer satisfaction, market differentiation, return on investment and revenues.

Successful enterprises in terms of meeting customer expectations are those who build strategic partnerships, not just vendor relationships, to help them with skills and resources they lack. There is a need for companies to treat ‘digital customer experience transformation’ as an ongoing initiative rather than a project, the report noted.

Accenture says the next wave of customer experience ‘disruption’ will come in the form of smart digital services that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to wrap around the consumer and respond to them in real-time according to their individual needs and environments.

“The next wave of digital services will completely transform customer experience as we know it,” said Roytman. “Every business will have to truly rally around the customer and become even more digitally savvy in order to take advantage of it.”