Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

The evolution of customer experience

Gorilla with digital Tablet

Customer experience has always been there. We’ve called it many different things in the past. We may have called it customer service but then it was still very much a view of what a business wanted for its customers.

What’s changed over time is this idea of being customer-led and the application of design thinking.

Design thinking can be traced back to the late 1960s while customer centricity is a concept that’s been around for a number of decades.

These components have always existed; it’s only really during the last decade or so that they’ve converged and people now talk about customer experience as though it’s a thing.

Today, customer experience is all about understanding our customer’s motivations, needs and wants as well as their emotional and operational context. That as the starting point is the new component.

Gorilla with digital Tablet

I ended up in customer experience for two reasons: a combination of personal curiosity and a career history which has been all about changing customer behaviour, getting people to do something new.

I’m interested in what tomorrow looks like and helping people get there. Whether it is how a filmmaker engaging his/her audience, how a retailer curates their products, or how a person interacts with a call centre, I’ve always been interested in how that actually works, unpicking that and understanding the fundamental drivers from the customer’s perspective as well as how a business can utilise that understanding to best serve their audience.

I have spent most of my career agency side. The agencies I have worked for or run have been at the forefront of helping clients do new things, being innovative. When I was working in marketing, I worked for companies like Betfair, the world’s first wagering exchange platform. That was all about getting customers to do something they couldn’t do five years ago.

It’s that way of thinking I’ve always enjoyed; that’s what got me into what is now a formally recognised role in customer experience.

The next phase

In the coming years, customer expectations of brands will continue to increase. It’s no longer up to businesses to decide what they do. Sure, they make the call as to what they do and don’t provide, but it they don’t listen to the customers they will go out of business. For instance if you’re a traditional retailer and you don’t offer delivery to door, pick up from store, Click & Collect etcetera, people will stop shopping with you. That’s because this is what customers now expect. They’re not going to ring up Coles, Woolworths or Officeworks and say, “I will stop shopping with you if you stop doing it”. That is just how it is.

And customers’ expectations aren’t going to stop there. At Officeworks, we’re seeing that with Click & Collect. A couple of years ago, people were happy to purchase and collect in a day or two. Research we have undertaken recently shows about 64% of customers expect to be able to order something online and pick it up from the store within three hours. That’s the Australian paradigm. In parts of America, the expectation is, ‘Deliver to me wherever I have to be in the city within an hour’.

Data fuels the customer experience evolution

Customers will continue to be more and more comfortable with having their data used to provide a better experience. Back in the foetal days of online, we were all paranoid about using credit cards and having to fill out registration forms. Today, we simply login with Facebook and Google anywhere and everywhere. All of that data is being shared and it’s not that we don’t know or care. Customers actually understand the equation.

Now when you walk into a store, a smart retailer can find the nexus between the store and online experience through the information they’ve collected at each and every touchpoint. They can use that to give you a superior experience. Customers are becoming quite comfortable with that. They are far more willing and will continue to be willing to share their data.

The influence of the sharing economy on CX

The sharing economy is a paradigm of the future. The way companies like Uber and Airbnb put the power into the customer’s hands is something else. The customer has the power to directly impact the service provider and they know they could be putting someone out of business.

I would suggest all traditional retailers are painfully aware of this rapidly changing paradigm. At Officeworks, we haven’t yet launched anything that’s substantial in this particular area but we are well aware of the power that the consumer holds and we are doing everything to cater for them in the new and exciting world of retail.

Unlike many other bricks and mortar retailers, we are a true every channel retailer. Approximately 17% of our business comes from desktop, mobile and tablet which is almost double the Australian benchmark. We are in places like eBay and we have a very healthy net promoter score (NPS) program. There are a lot of things we’ve done that move us away from that what we would call “old school traditional”. But in terms of moving towards services or products where the customer has as much power as they do in the sharing economy, that’s on the horizon, but we are not there yet.

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David Pisker - Head of Customer Experience, Officeworks About David Pisker - Head of Customer Experience, Officeworks
David Pisker, Head of Customer Experience & eCommerce at Officeworks. David has almost 20 years experience delivering customer-focussed solutions across a variety of industries including Retail, Automotive, Tourism, Real estate, FMCG, and Wagering. After cutting his teeth at McKinsey & Company, David worked agency side running Tribal DDB, NetX, and IE as well as holding various senior management roles both locally and overseas.