Lenovo: Experience more important than price or product

Lenovo freely admits it is on a journey to become more customer-led

Lenovo is on a journey to become more customer-led, although its customer experience chief is the first to admit it's not there yet.

The tech giant is working to put customer at the front and centre of everything it does, from innovation to sales, user experience (UX), customer experience (CX), and everything in between.

Lenovo Group has had an amazing couple of years, recently announcing group revenue in the first quarter of 2019 of US$12.5 billion, its eighth consecutive quarter of growth. Pre-tax income more than doubled year-on-year, growing by US$127 million to reach US$240 million, and net income jumped from US$85 million to US$162 million. The company puts the strong results down to innovation, a customer-centric product portfolio, and continuing focus on operational excellence.

Lenovo vice-president of user and customer experience, Dilip Bhatia, told CMO the tech manufacturer's vision is smarter technology for all, producing and distributing affordable and accessible products globally and enabling the transformation of businesses everywhere. But to get there, he recognised all experience matters: From customer to user and employee.

“Our core Lenovo values are: Focus on customers in everything we do, teamwork and trust, entrepreneurial mindset, and innovation," he said. "You can see this reflected in the products we’ve launched. We now have 25 per cent market share, and in the end, it’s our products that do the talking."

A lot of ideas are coming from customers. "We know from talking to our customers what matters to them is time, comfort and connection," Bhatia continued.

"Those insights will drive personalised computing for Lenovo and our customers, as technology continues to intelligently transform our lives." 

Bhatia pointed out technology has a transformational ability to unite people across generations and walks of life around the world, with the potential to help them to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

In fact, according to new research released by Lenovo, there is a growing relationship between technological innovation and wellbeing. The research not only found 40 per cent of global respondents feel “a lot” or “somewhat” more youthful thanks to technology, but on average it made them feel younger by 11 years.

Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of working parents stated the ever-connected nature of technology helps them feel more emotionally connected to their children, even when they are away from home. And more than two-thirds (67 per cent) of respondents are optimistic about the future of technology and the role tech can play in our lives and society, especially in wellbeing, with 67 per cent believing devices are currently having a positive impact on the ability to improve their overall health.

“We know consumers want more time, we know they want things to be easy to use, and now we know there is a growing relationship between innovation and wellbeing, as smart technologies are not only helping people globally to stay more connected but aiding wellbeing in the form of compassion and empathy by building better connections between them," Bhatia said. 

Lenovo's research also revealed many older generations think using technology helps them to connect better with younger people, as well as feel livelier and more knowledgeable. This is especially evident when it comes to the role smart devices - from PCs, tablets to smarthome assistants and more - play in terms of relationships with family and friends.

Yet with so much technology out there, the surrounding experience of purchasing and using such products is as important to consumers, if not more so.

“There are lots of technology choices out there, it’s a huge market and there’s a lot of excitement in that space. But this is also one of the challenges - there are lots of choices. So how do you navigate with all these choices?” Bhatia said.

“Experience going forward will be more important than the price and the product. Brands that don’t focus on experience aren’t going to survive. And the experience is magic. This also must include CX, employee experience and UX. The companies that do well in CX do well in EX and UX." 

To get there, Bhatia advised looking through three lenses: Listening, learning and improving. "If you do that, it has a multiplier effect and impacts the bottom line. The market rewards those who do experience well, very handsomely," he said. 

To help stay in touch with its own customers, Lenovo hosts consumer panels to get feedback on new technology, and also taps big data analytics to derive actionable insights.

"I can look at 20 million comments annually and do sentiment analysis on that on what people like and don’t like,” Bhatia said. 

At the same time, Bhatia acknowledged it’s more difficult for companies not born in the era of connectivity to pivot to a more experience-centric focus. A vital step to get there is leadership support. In Lenovo's case, this is exhibited by every employee having a CX KPI,  and 20-40 per cent of any bonus coming from hitting these CX KPIs.

“The hardest part is the culture, and it takes leadership commitment from the top," Bhatia said. "I do a lot of customer advisory forums around the world, and you’d be surprised how many companies don’t know what their customers or employees think. What are your customer pain points? It starts with the simple process of listening.

"We want to create loyal customers by listening, learning and improving their everyday experience. We are not there yet, but we are on the journey, it takes a while to transform a culture.”

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