Key takeaways

  • A PwC report found customers are willing to pay up to 16% more for products and services that prioritise their experience.
  • The influx of global players such as Amazon and Netflix are transforming what good customer experience looks like in New Zealand.
  • Local businesses can compete by focusing on the human element, specifically the needs of both their employees and their customers.

There are few things that deliver a competitive advantage quite as effectively as the power to give your customers what they want.

Twenty years ago, the ability to anticipate human needs, provide winning service and put the customer at the heart of business decisions set you apart from your competitors. These days, this still rings true, and technology has enabled communicating with customers quicker, faster and cheaper.

But customer experience must sit at the heart and soul of what we call ‘intelligent digital’ — regardless of how advanced your analytics software is. According to the latest report in PwC’s Consumer Intelligence Series, Experience is everything: Here’s how to get it right, customers will pay up to 16% more on products and services that prioritise their experience. The report also found that speed, convenience, helpful service and friendly employees are important to 70% of customers while one-third of all consumers would walk away from a brand they love after a just one bad encounter.

In a market like New Zealand, there’s a wave of players thinking seriously about customer experience and putting customer-centricity at the core of their mission. But the influx of global companies such as Amazon and Netflix are changing what ‘good’ looks like.

Increasingly, customers in New Zealand demand the choice, convenience and seamlessness that they’ve come to expect from international brands without accounting for local limitations. For New Zealand businesses, this presents a challenge. It also brings a raft of opportunities to transform your offering if you’re ready to take the plunge.

Data in exchange
for experience

Sure, data is the key to customer insights. But too often, we think about analytics in isolation without carefully considering the customer experience and working backwards from there. The Experience is Everything report found that 63% of customers would share their personal data with a brand if it delivered a better experience. That’s a powerful incentive for New Zealand companies to use data and analytics in designing outcomes that will delight their customers.

For example, companies like the Bank of New Zealand have been investing heavily in their data assets, using real-time insights to create personalised experiences for their customers across in-store and online touchpoints. They’re also drawing inspiration from game-changing cloud-based software such as Xero to make it easy for customers to make smarter financial decisions — rather than focusing on transactions alone.1 And in March 2018, ASB Bank trialled Josie, a digital avatar that draws on artificial intelligence and biometrics to respond to the requests of small business customers and take their shifting needs into account.2

A human

Over the last few years, many businesses have fallen into the trap of focusing on the new and shiny aspects of technology without considering that intelligent digital is about innovating in the service of human needs. Now, we’re finally seeing a return to an approach that prioritises the human and emotional aspects of technology. The PwC report revealed that 82% of US customers and 74% of non-US customers want more human interactions in the future and that the technology that supports this dialogue must be as unobtrusive and natural as possible. Digitising every transaction is unnecessary; customers want the convenience promised by digital along with a human touch.

Although the rise of artificial intelligence has been an ongoing focus for businesses, companies such as New Zealand’s Soul Machines are pioneering avatars that are emotionally sentient, capable of responding to customer’s facial and vocal patterns and giving a human response.3 This shift towards an integrated approach to digital recognises that humans are emotionally intelligent. Technology should enhance our lives and put human beings at the forefront.

Happy employees
set the stage

Too often, businesses forget that good customer experiences come when companies invest in their employee wellbeing and empower them to excel at their job. The report also found that 46% of consumers will abandon a brand if their employees are not knowledgeable and only 38% of US consumers believe that staff members understand their needs.

For businesses, it’s becoming increasingly imperative to think about how an employee feels when they’re delivering a customer experience. This means, swapping the age-old, lifecycle way of thinking about the employee journey and focusing on “moments that matter.” This model works hard to acknowledge that employees are individuals with one-of-a-kind strengths, needs and working habits.

Paying the
customer experience debt

Experience is Everything discovered that 54% of businesses should be focusing more on customer experience. But many businesses in New Zealand suffer an experience debt. This gap has less to do with legacy technology and more to do with strategies that are intrinsic to delivering seamless experiences that put the user first. But, increasingly, embracing intelligent digital, using technology to serve human needs and investing in employee happiness can pave the way for a customer-centric future.

Download the Experience is everything report or visit the Consumer Intelligence Series site for more insights.


Digital Pulse: Kris Nygren


Kris Nygren

Kris leads PwC’s Experience Centre and Digital Services in New Zealand.

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