Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
One issue with the gambling industry is that it’s very promiscuous, William Hill’s head of mobile CX, Mark Bradshaw, claims. Unlike a bank or insurance, it’s very easy to move between providers, so customer retention and making sure they don’t have a bad experience is really critical to your bottom line, he says.
Equally, choice is ample in the beverage industry, Lion BSW A/NZ’s best practice director, Stuart Baak, says, making customer insight and knowledge vital to commercial sustainability and success.
Speaking at the Customer-Centric Innovation Lab 2017 in Sydney last week, Bradshaw and Baak uncovered how their respective highly competitive gambling and drinking industries are building a strong customer-centric culture in order to avoid losing out to their competitors.
Do something different
In the gambling sector, Bradshaw noted a lot of offerings start to look the same from the customer’s perspective, so it’s important to do something a little different to gain a competitive advantage.
“You need to take the time to look at your business model and find out how you’re really creating value for your customer,” he told attendees. “Take the time to go out of your industry and look at how other businesses are creating value, then take those learnings and apply them to your industry. It is offering this point of difference that can give you a competitive advantage, and that creates value for your customers.”
Understand the ‘moment of truths’
According to Bradshaw, attracting and retaining customers, which have a direct impact to profits in the long run, rests around three core ‘moment of truths’ along the customer journey.
“The first moment of truth is that point in time a customer comes in contact with your business, where there is an opportunity to form a first impression,” he said. “The second moment of truth is when a customer is using the product and engaging with it – smelling, tasting, touching it – or in our instance, gambling on it.
“In the gambling space, there are instances of frustration, where a customer can’t place a bet, or you’re not giving your customer their money on time. These moments of truth are opportunities where your customer could form an opinion about your product and determine whether they will return.”
The third moment of truth, Bradshaw said, is not just about retaining their loyalty but about whether or not your customer will recommend you.
“It’s that moment in time where a customer will tell their friends of family whether they had a good experience and whether they will come back to you,” he added. “For us, this is the point we put around our NPS score.”
But there is a ‘moment of truth gap’ to be wary of that could fatally impact your customer experience and loyalty, Bradshaw warned.
“For instance, if you rely on a delivery company to deliver your product to your customer, and that company gives your customer a bad experience - you don’t have control over that experience,” he said. “So you need to look at every touch point of your customer journey and identify any gaps that you need to monitor or address better.”
Drive customer improvement through leadership
Improving customer experience and retention starts with strong internal leadership, Baak, said.
The beer spirit and wine chain makes and manages about 1300 different products and supplies brands like Little Creatures, XXXX and James Squire. The company has about 1000 people across the supply chain in Australia and New Zealand, along with five large and five small breweries, with more microbreweries set to open - one recently opening in Hong Kong serving Little Creatures directly to the customer.
The challenge in such a highly competitive beverage space, Baak said, is to get more people internally to care about improving customer experience, align behind it and make it meaningful.
“We have focused on more business result and seen more customer engagement, but it’s all about having the right values and fostering the right culture and leader behaviour,” he said. “If you don’t have engaged people internally, then you’ll never be able to engage the customer.”
According to Baak, Lion has been on a continuous improvement journey, focusing on delivering results for the customer for a long time. The lean part of that, which he has looked after since 2009, has involved closing about 1840 projects in that time resulting in about $28.5 million worth of savings, with a total value creation of around $117 million.
“In terms of the customer view, there are still some opportunities there, even though have still been the number one BSW supplier for a while in terms of engaging our customers in Australia and New Zealand –we’re always striving to do better in that space,” he claimed.
Everyday improvements matter
In order to provide a better and more engaging customer experience, Baak warned against getting too caught up on the big projects but rather, to think about little improvements all the time.
“There’s every day improvement, and then there’s breakthrough improvement,” he said. “Breakthroughs are great, but just focusing on them and you might suffer a marketing ‘sugar hit’ – where you have a great high following the big project, and then the lull afterwards where nothing else happens.
“But when the everyday CX improvements start becoming cultural, you start getting the big wins – incrementally.”
Baak said the real thing about improving on customer experience every day is like what Spotify does – rather than big releases regularly, the music provider has small teams working on small improvements to its platform daily.
“They are updating their platform without you even noticing,” he said. “So the platform is always evolving and always focused on the customer.”
Investing in culture over tools
According to Baak, in order to be truly customer-centric in a fiercely competitive space, tools don’t matter as much as having the right internal culture that values customer experience improvement.
“For us, we focus both on the practice and the performance,” he said. “If we are good at working with a particular tool but it isn’t delivering anything, then we get rid of it.
“You constantly need to be able to challenge yourself all the time as an organisation – to ensure your practice does deliver the right outcomes through the right capability, structure and culture. As an organisation, you also need to get into that collaborative space – where more people are learning and interested in delivering those important things to your customer.”