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Designing the right customer experience

Author: Daniel Lund

“Customer experience leaders have more than a 16 percentage point advantage over customer experience laggards in consumers’ willingness to buy more, their reluctance to switch business away, and their likelihood to recommend”. [i]

Recent research suggests that even modest improvements to a company’s customer experience can equate to millions of dollars in revenue uplift.  Surely in developing a market such as with KiwiSaver it is only a matter of time before one of the established providers, or possibly a new entrant, seizes that market by redefining the customer experience?[ii]

But how will they do it?  At Deloitte we believe that this will come down to four things:

  1. Having a clear customer experience vision
  2. Really understanding customer needs
  3. Designing a differentiated customer experience
  4. Developing the capabilities to make the change stick

A clear customer experience vision

Having understood the kind of company you want to be, the next step is to apply a mixture of hypothesis and analysis to work out your customer strategy – which customer ‘segments’ you will target, how you will serve and add value to them and how you will receive value in return.  This strategy should then be developed into a compelling customer experience vision – one that accurately reflects your brand promise, differentiates you in the marketplace, and inspires consumers and employees.

The development of your customer vision is a great opportunity to engage with your customers and employees at all levels to develop bold and innovative ideas that will shape the KiwiSaver marketplace.

Understanding customer needs

A good understanding of your customer needs will be a key ingredient to refine your customer experience vision.  It will also highlight the immediate customer problems that need to be resolved if that vision is to be delivered.  To develop this understanding a typical approach might involve conducting customer surveys, interviews or focus groups, monitoring of calls and analysis of customer processes, and so on.  Whichever methods are used it is critical to get a genuine ‘outside-in’ customer perspective of their needs – without this changes may fail to hit the mark.

The customer experience of KiwiSaver is probably unique in comparison to the other products and services they buy.  To get a true ‘outside-in’ customer perspective will take even greater levels of impartiality and thoughtful analysis to identify the real problems and the greatest opportunities.

A differentiated customer experience

The customer experience of your company starts well before the first order is placed.  It starts when the customer has a need and becomes aware of your company through research.  It then develops as the customer chooses, orders, and uses your products, as they request and receive service, and as they evolve their relationship by reviewing or referring your company.  To design a differentiated customer experience is to address the entirety of this customer lifecycle and to work out at each key stage how for each customer segment you will deliver and receive value across channels. 

KiwiSaver as a product presents a slightly different challenge, considering the fairly passive nature in which so many initially join or switch providers. This simply means however, that the decision to choose one provider over another is done at a slower pace and largely in retrospect. What’s important to understand is that a decision will eventually be made, and is likely to be repeated on an on-going basis.

A differentiated customer experience of KiwiSaver will almost certainly involve digital technologies, which have forced a paradigm shift in how customers experience companies and their products and services.  Through mobile and social in particular customers are now driving how they communicate with companies rather than the other way around.   Leading companies are also innovating with these technologies to increase customer engagement, build a following, and deliver service more effectively.  

Customer experience capabilities

Having designed a differentiated customer experience the challenge is then to incorporate these designs as a long term transformational goal, not simply a one-time project or secondary oversight.  Only then will you deliver the change and sustain the advantage ahead of the competition.  This includes:

  • Operations – Design processes that deliver the desired customer experience in a way that is consistent and connected across all channel and product organizations.
  • Organisation – Driving a customer focus from top to bottom as an executive priority.  Align cross-functional goals, reward performance with incentives, and enforce accountability for customer impacting results.
  • Technology – Collaborate directly with IT as a business partner and customer advocate.  Ensure Customer principles are guiding inputs into technology investments and IT development roadmaps.
  • Measurement – Develop your customer insights into a live ‘voice of the customer’ for each segment that will drive strategic and operational decision making and continuous improvement.


[i] Temkin Group, The ROI of Customer Experience, March 2012.

[ii] Powershop is a great example of what can be done even in a developed sector such as utilities.  Launched just three years ago it has redefined the customer experience, regularly receiving customer satisfaction scores of over 90%.  In 2011 it was New Zealand’s fastest growing company and it now has over 50,000 customers.

Forward Focus March 2013 contents:


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