6 consumer experience lessons from PwC

With over 90% of Hong Kong’s GDP in the service sector, delivering high quality customer experience is a critical factor to maintain Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the region.

PwC’s 2014 Customer Experience Survey shows 80% of consumers said they want to interact with companies through social channels for service and support, with 60% of companies believe they are performing above their industry average.

However, only 6% of consumers expressed satisfaction with the level of service received.

Source: The State of Customer Experience in Hong Kong by PwC.

Source: PwC The State of Customer Experience in Hong Kong.

So what went wrong?

Before tracing the problems back to the root cause, PwC says says brands must understand four core market trends:


“The whole country is moving really quickly to mobile. Smart phone is providing a while new way companies engage with clients and also how consumers earn information and how they make buying decisions. The raise of mobile in Asia is much higher than in US and Europe,” said Sean Colvin, PwC Hong Kong customer impact consulting leader at HKGCC seminar yesterday.

“Asia is all about smartphone.”

Source: CNNIC (2013) mobithinking (2013)

Source: CNNIC (2013) mobithinking (2013)

Social Media

“China is the biggest social media market in the world. Six of the world’s Top 15 social media sites are Chinese.”

Smartphone and social media are the new norms, he said, and they are causing companies to start to rethink their strategies.

Source: PwC analysis based on company announcements

Source: PwC analysis based on company announcements

In view of cultural differences, Asia need to find our way to improve customer experience and not just to copy the US mode, he said.

“Chinese consumers are using smartphone for a wider range of activities than international peers.”

Source: PwC "Mobile advertising: What do Chinese consumers want?" (2014)

Source: PwC “Mobile advertising: What do Chinese consumers want?” (2014)

He said smartphone and social usage happens so quickly and organisations need to start to adapt to higher customers expectations, which no longer limited within the brand but involved with comparison to rivals.

“The old way of how we engage with consumers, versus what is coming at rapid pace, needs to be rethought.”

Source: PwC analysis

Source: PwC analysis

It seems Hong Kong has a long way to go before we are well prepared to manage these changes, while the survey suggests only 6% of Hong Kong customers expressed satisfaction.

“Customer experience is a blend of a company’s physical performance, the senses stimulate and the emotions evoked, intuitive measured against customer expectations across all moments of contact,” he said.

“You need to build the business to adapt because consumers expectation are constantly changing.”

One key mistake for companies in Hong Kong are they are overly focused on sales interaction. But pro-sales experience in terms of servicing and retention has been overlooked.

The study reveals that 46% of respondent said brands do not seek to understand their needs; 44% are reluctant to resolve issues; and 60% of them proclaimed brands ignoring their feedback.

“Companies are too focusing on acquiring customers but ignoring the need to retain them. They should put more efforts on managing the customer journey rather than just the upfront.”

While the study shows 73% customers show willingness to pay even more for a better customers experience, most companies are at early stage in their customer transformation journeys.

Source: PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey

Source: PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey

So what companies need to do to start to close the customer satisfaction gap?

Source: PwC The State of Customer Experience in Hong Kong

Source: PwC The State of Customer Experience in Hong Kong

Listen, act & measure

Brands show develope customer feedback management programmes in order to continuously gather customer feedback at multiple touch-points and bring it back in the company, firstly, by setting up a listening platform to understand what people are saying about the company.

This include soliciting feedback from voice of customer (VoC) surveys; social listening on Facebook, Twitter or Weibo; as well as voice and text analytics such as calls, emails, chats.

Analytics everywhere

Today’s consumers want to be recognised as individuals and their personal needs addressed.

To achieve that, companies should source the right composition of skills and to build a clear roadmap that aims to deliver business value every six to eight weeks. Also important is to embed analytics into experience design process.

Innovate the customer experience

Innovation has typically been associated with new product development, however the trend that is raging within companies today is how to innovate “customer experience”.

Companies should first define their end-to-end customer journey identify the key moments of truth. Also, brands need to establish a new way of working that brings together experience design, digital, analytic gaming and psychology skills, rapid prototyping, and measurable improvements.

Embrace digital and social

Given Hong Kong consumers want to interact with companies through digit channels, brands should start with planning a better customer journey. Digital interactions need to be coherent and consistent with the overall customer experience through other channels.

Additionally, brands should refine clear social strategy that drives engagement, and understand what customers are saying about your brand via social listening.

Engage employees

It is about creating engagement in delivering the right customer experience.

To engage employees who are passionate about furthering an organisation’s interests, companies should empower staff to “do the right thing” by the customer, and to immerse staff, repeatedly in the desired customer experience.

Also, brands should plan a compensation and benefits programme that rewards efforts deliver a better customer experience.

Inspired leadership

Sustained customer growth and retention is not achieved on a project basis. It requires the customer to be at the core of the company culture.

In order to nurture a culture of customer-centricity, companies should appoint C-level ownership (e.g. Chief Customer Officer), and to conduct more executive meetings to hear about the voice of the customer and agree on experience improvement initiatives.

“If companies focus more on the needs of customers, there is immense opportunity for revenue uplift for companies who lead and innovate in customer engagement,” said Colvin.

“With online transparency making it harder to compete on price and foot traffic alone, companies need to move beyond customer acquisition and keep pace with changing consumer expectations by providing a differentiated customer experience strategy,” he added.

The survey, targeted only Hong Kong customers, interviewed 60 companies in various B2C and B2B industries across 2000 Hong Kong consumers in collaboration with The Hong Kong Coalition of Service Industries and The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.

Photo courtesy of shutterstock

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