There are many tools available to help companies improve their customer experience, but which ones should executives focus on? Gerard du Toit, a partner with Bain’s Customer Strategy & Marketing practice, discusses three key insights from Bain's latest survey of executives at more than 700 companies, including a look at the top trending tools and why it's important to invest in a few tools rather than dabble in many.
Read the transcript below.
GERARD DU TOIT: Customer experience is more important than ever. And there are more tools to manage the customer experience than ever. And executives have been struggling to figure out which ones to really invest in, because you can't use them all. And so we combined our own experience of working with clients with these tools, as well as asking 700 customer-experience executives around the globe what tools they use, how well they work, and which ones they plan to adopt in the future. And we found three things in particular that were interesting.
First, what's trending. The three tools that report the biggest likelihood to adopt, the biggest jump going forwards, were personalized customer experience, one-to-one sales and marketing, and automated decision engines. Each of these are in the 15% to 30% of companies saying they use them today. And they're jumping to 60% to 70% of companies saying they expect to use them in the next three years.
And these go together in many ways. They're reinforcing tools and capabilities. They're ones that are easy to imagine in a retail environment, like an Amazon, or a media environment, like a Netflix. You certainly see how both of those companies are doing personalization—not just of content, but customer experience.
But this is now increasingly moving to other industries as well. So as an example, Didi, the Uber of China, is able to pretty reliably predict if you're having a bad ride experience from things like, did it take a lot longer than promised for your ride to show up? And then not just know that, but do something about it. And based on you, your segment, what they know about you, provide an appropriate treatment real time, so that while you're still on that ride you, might get something like a coupon towards your next ride as a make-good for a not-great experience.
The second interesting finding we have is that the adoption rates in emerging markets are actually significantly higher than developed markets. And so on average, in Asia-Pacific, there's about a 28% adoption rate across all tools, whereas in the US, it's only 12%. And we were, frankly, quite surprised by this. But as we dug into it, there are a variety of reasons, but two in particular that are important.
First, it's easier for a newer company to adopt these tools. If you've got a greenfield environment instead of brownfield, you've got simpler integration with legacy systems, and can do more and move faster with new tools. And then second, there tend to be lower regulatory and even customer objections and concerns around how data is used, how privacy is managed. And so they're, frankly, just moving a bit faster in experimenting with some of these tools.
The third interesting finding is that executives report far greater satisfaction when they deploy a tool as part of a major effort than as a minor effort. And while it's worthwhile experimenting with tools, it doesn't work so well to just dabble. It takes a lot of work to not just install the software, but to configure it for the use case, for the business, for the clients that you have, for their needs, for the economics, and then to work end-to-end across the organization and get the decision rights working correctly across the different functions, silos, channels, et cetera. And so if it's something that's worth doing, it's worth doing right.
When it comes to using tools that improve the experience, it pays to go all in with a few rather than dabble with many.