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Why disrupting your own customers may be the best way to keep them

By Rahul Gautam, Americas TMT Advisory Leader

The views in this blog post are the views of the author, not EY.

Customer expectations are rising so fast that marginal improvements may no longer be enough.

Emerging digital technologies and business models are changing the status quo across all industries, not least TMT (Tech, Media and Telecoms). Whether it is the prospect of cognitive automation, blockchain or the internet of things, many companies are operating with one eye constantly on what’s coming over the horizon.

But,there is a risk in focusing too much on the future, just as there is in ignoring it. You can’t wait until tomorrow to meet your customers' expectations – they want it now and, increasingly, they want more of it – and for less.

The levels of real-time engagement and interaction consumers enjoy in areas such as social media are driving their expectations in commercial transactions. The always-on mobile, multi-platform consumer is not in the habit of accepting second best. With recent EY research showing younger age groups are less loyal and more likely to switch providers, there’s a clear imperative to act now to improve customer experience.

Of course, all successful businesses already put high-quality, responsive customer service at the heart of their operations, but the current level of change makes it hard for even the best to keep up. At a time when margins are squeezed, digital innovation provides a route to rapid and cost effective transformation.

Which is why digital customer experience teams and specialists are in demand. Their ability to help businesses all the way from research and insight, through to design and implementation, can enable the rapid and creative change companies want to make. Even the bestresourced businesses may want to draw on new skills, fresh thinking or added capacity.

Unlike some forms of disruption, making a step change in customer experience is not about taking a bet on the future. It’s an investment that can deliver immediate, measurable results as well as long-term benefits.

Digital innovation that delivers immediate results

Indeed, right from the outset, our award-winning work with FTSE 100-listed information services company Informa was focused on outcomes. Their Knowledge and Networking division is responsible for hundreds of high-profile conferences and events every year. The challenge was to transform customer relationships built around one-off physical events into an always-on digital network that would increase engagement and boost digital sales. 

The first step was to help Informa dig deep into the needs of their customers. We attended events, carried out customer testing and analysed data to identify customer behaviours, journeys and segmentation.

With a team embedded at their London HQ, we then helped Informa manage the full vendor ecosystem, including a branding agency and technology developers. A ‘test and learn’ approach was used throughout. For example, an easy-to-use app measured key metrics including, conversion rates, web traffic and Digitally Attributable Revenue Streams (DARS). This provided a simple and transparent way for Informa and EY to track progress and make key decisions.

Reshaping the existing marketing strategy was also key. Together with Informa, we developed a new approach to content and marketing, overhauled skills, used new digital tools, hired new agency partners, and created a centre of excellence to target and engage with audiences.

Better valued customers are more valuable

The figures clearly show that an enhanced experience for Informa customers translated to greater sales and a revolution in digital marketing. Conversion rates more than trebled, the amount of time spent on websites jumped by nearly 40% and the number of users coming to the site via social media increased by 20%. Most importantly, the proportion of Informa’s digital revenues grew dramatically.

The longer-term benefits extend beyond these metrics, helping to shape Informa’s long-term growth strategy by embedding a more ‘digital first’ culture that is making it easier for new products and services to get to market.

Industry recognition

The value of EY’s support for Informa was recognised at the 2017 MCA Awards, where the project beat tough competition to be named the winner in the Customer Engagement category.

EY’s Technology, Media, and Telecommunications practitioners help the largest and most innovative companies accelerate their growth agenda. We focus on using data-driven decisions and constructing leading class, purpose built ecosystems to provide client outcomes at pace.

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Rahul Gautam

Americas TMT Advisory Leader