‘We are seeing brands across categories adopting a D2C approach’

Jason Gaikowski & Saurabh Mathur of VMLY&R revealed that brands in the banking, auto and retail sectors are leading the CX Race these days 

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Nov 30, 2020 4:23 PM

Gone are the days when the topic of customer experience was a rather ignored one. Consumers today can jump from brand to brand, product to product and site to site at the flick of a button. And that’s making customer experience an increasingly important part of a brand’s bid to differentiate itself from competitors.

Driving the conversation further on this, exchange4media caught up with Jason Gaikowski- VMLY&R | Executive Director, Customer Experience & Global Lead, Human Centered Design and Saurabh Mathur- Business Head, Platforms, Experiences & Technology, VMLY&R India, on trends accelerated by Covid-19 in the CX space, how India is as a market and how Indian campaigns in that context have evolved.

Edited excerpts:

Take us through your experience of building capabilities for brands during the fast-changing environment brought by the Covid crisis?

Jason: Covid-19 hasn’t introduced new capabilities so much as accelerated their development across our client brand landscape. We really had the privilege of diving in together with clients to build foundational capabilities in Human-Centered Design and Agile, which in turn have enabled rapid co-creation of the critical digital engagement, e-commerce, and experience capabilities that form the backbone modern brands need to succeed in a post-Covid world.

Any interesting changes or trends fuelled by the pandemic in the CX space?

Jason: One of the most interesting changes include the massive race among established brands to rebuild themselves in the image of digital native brands. Companies have recognized the advantages of first party data, distribution, and customer relationships; and we’re effectively seeing brands across all categories adopt more of a D2C approach. 

Another is the rapid dis-intermediation of place; particularly for healthcare and education. It’s been fascinating to see how rapidly and effectively many firms have pivoted to remote work, debunking long-held superstitions and discovering that “at a distance” unlocks some very real benefits. And while we’re still working through the positives and negatives of a society less reliant on places and spaces, it increasingly appears that we will be able to scale key services in ways largely assumed impossible less than a year ago.

Specific to the Indian landscape, how do you see the evolution of CX? Any recent India campaigns that you admire from the CX point-of-view?

Saurabh: India as an emerging market has incredible opportunities for CX thinking and innovation. In all the indices across categories, most leading brands are now looking to invest in implementing CX as a tool to make a business and marketing impact. 

For brands that have realised this, consistency is key. Making sure that they are able to deliver excellent experiences with consistency to a larger number of customers seems to be the goal. Brands that want to improve on CX start with a customer-first approach and a focus on emotion. How an experience makes them feel is critical to understand. 

As work becomes increasingly digital even more after the pandemic, where do you see the CX function moving to?

Jason: Looking forward over the next few years, I would suggest that CX must move to the C-Suite and converge with Marketing. The competitive advantages and financial benefits of a mature CX practice are too compelling for firms to overlook. CX will become as essential to a business as product, sales and finance.

Do you agree to the notion that consultancies continue to gain ground in the race to CX service dominance? 

Jason: Honestly, I believe that VMLY&R and WPP are well positioned to gain ground as CX gains maturity. Consultancies have had some early success, largely by focused on cost reduction and efficiency gains. And although the technical aspects of CX are important, they are quickly facing commoditization. Moreover, with brands coming to recognize that CX is a brand promise made real in the lives of customers, VMLY&R and WPP’s key strengths in Customer Understanding and Creativity have emerged as the “killer capabilities” for CX. These natural advantages will give our agency a leg up in the years to come.

What are the top industries that you have witnessed taking a lead on CX during these times?

Saurabh: Banking, Auto and Retail are leading the CX Race. However, differentiation seems to be a problem. CX in India seems to be improving in herds as categories. Brands will soon need to focus on building differentiated experiences that delight customers.

How should brands adopt the dynamic nature of customer experience in a culture of convergence?

Jason: First and foremost, brands should prioritize a convergence of marketing and CX capabilities. According to Forrester, 84% of firms aspire to be a CX leader and 76% of executives report that their CX Vision is defined; and yet only 26% of firms have made aligning the brand promise and CX Vision a priority over the next 12 months. Resolving this internal disconnect is crucial to successfully navigating the dynamic nature of customer experience.

Jason is the keynote speaker at the WPP CX Series: Global perspectives on the present and future of experience, on Nov 26, 5:30-6:30pm IST.

Register here: https://www.cxseriesindia.com/


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