Customer experience is the key differentiator among loyalty marketers and mobile currently plays, and will continue to play, a starring role in its evolution, according to Krish Mantripragada, Chief Product Officer, Medallia.

Loyalty360 talked to Mantripragada about the future of customer experience.

Why do you think that Future CX revolves around mobile?

Mantripragada: By 2020, there will be 4.61 billion smartphone users globally, so it’s clear that we’re continuing on an exponential trajectory for mobile adoption. Everyone has a smartphone, and most consumers first interact with a brand on a mobile device. So there are two opportunities here. The first opportunity is to help companies make sure that mobile experiences are excellent for consumers. Consumers are increasingly relying on an app or even chat or messaging to interact with the brand. Consumers have more power than ever before, and are keen to voice their opinions on review sites and social media almost instantly after an interaction. The opportunity today and in 2018 is for brands to continue the conversation with customers where customers are, and that’s on social media, within a mobile app, via chat, and messaging apps.
 
The second is to support companies whose businesses involve employees who are not sitting at desks with computers but moving around and using a device in their work environments. Think of Apple, Macy’s, and Target - employees are using a tablet or a phone as part of their job. It’s imperative for enterprise apps to be as easy-to-use as any consumer app, and as addictive. To transform a company into a customer-centric organization, you need to have a mobile-first strategy.
 
Do you agree that CX is the key differentiator among brands today?

Mantripragada: According to Gartner, a leading market research firm, 89 percent of companies reported that they expect to compete primarily based on customer experience by 2016, a number up significantly from 36 percent just four years earlier. The strongest differentiating factor today for many brands is the experience. That’s how people approach any purchasing experience from our favorite airline to our favorite retail store. When you look at the Top 25 Brands according to Fast Company, with Google, Amazon, and Apple at the top, you can see that those are brands that value the customer experience. The best loved brands are often the most profitable and most successful. These brands are anticipating the needs of the customer and then adapting their organizations to meet them.
 
How can mobile impact the future of CX in ways that haven’t been seen before?

Mantripragada: Consumers have more power than ever before. Consumers will share both positive and negative experiences quickly on social media and across third party review sites from their mobile devices within an instant. Capturing all of this feedback is only half the battle, but understanding it to pinpoint issues and respond in real-time is the other half. It’s essential to engage customers at the moment of truth, not wait for days for customer feedback to bubble up to the right person.

With in-app feedback, chat, and SMS functionality, it’s now easy for brands to be a part of the conversation with consumers in the moment. Brands can fix a shopping cart, issue a refund, update shipping status within the shopping experience in the moment in real-time. Consumers who have to wait more than an instant for any action or resolution will move to the competition.

What are brands doing well currently with mobile and CX, and where do the challenges lie?

Mantripragada: I’d call out a variety of top hotel brands that also happen to be Medallia customers including Marriott and Hilton. These are brands that care about empowering their staff with real-time customer data and engage everyone from the frontline to executive level with customer feedback. Tens of thousands of employees are plugged into the customer experience.
 
There are some challenges, however. Many companies today are “BYOD” or “bring your own device” so security requirements can be challenging as any company has a greater expectation for safety and security than your run-of-the-mill consumer mobile app. An enterprise app must meet certain basic security requirements and also be able to work on a diverse number of devices.

Based on Future CX revolving around mobile, what trends do you foresee?

Mantripragada: One trend that we’re seeing is around speed. With mobile devices, access to customer feedback can occur in real-time. Sam’s Club just started using Medallia, and the team there is most excited about getting instant feedback through the app.

Here’s a quote from Ramón Portilla, Sam’s Club, Member Experience Insights: “At Sam’s Club, being member-driven means moving fast and making adjustments based on real-time data. The Medallia app facilitates an immediate two-way dialogue with our members, getting instant feedback about things they love and what they want us to improve or fix. From our CEO to our Club Managers, engaging with our members in real, meaningful ways is key to building the best shopping experience, and Medallia app has helped power this conversation.”  
 

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