Customer Experience in the developed economies of the world has become a mainstay. Large corporations and even some small and medium enterprises are paying some degree of attention to the overall CX.

The customer expectation is set due to market forces and pre-exposure of large segments of the customer base to a variety of services – and the rest is taken care by the brand promise conveyed via marketing, either explicitly or implicitly. In essence, customers have specific requirements from various brands regarding their personalised experiences and companies are paying attention to it through better understanding of customers’ needs and wants and addressing them proactively.

Customer Experience professionals are being placed in key management positions to highlight the ’cause’ of the customer. CCXP credential is also gaining momentum as the mainstream certification in this profession.

Pakistan has moved from being a frontier economy to an emerging market economy. It is the fifth most populous country in the world, with a population over 210 million. It is also part of the N-11 (Next Eleven) developing countries, having a high potential of becoming the world’s largest economies in the 21st century.

Pakistan’s service sector accounts for about 60 percent of GDP. Two notable service sectors include telecommunications and banking services. Both these sectors make for an interesting case study. Pakistan has a high tele-density penetration of about 74 percent (149 million subscribers), but less than 20 percent of the population has access to banking services. These two sectors represent a market that is well-served in the case of Telecom operators and under-served in the case of financial services. I am fortunate to have been associated with both these sectors, either directly or indirectly.

There is significant automation in the Telecom sector due to its very nature and lot of emphasis is placed upon measurements regarding customer satisfaction and retention. Due to price wars and cut-throat competition, the Telecom services have been commoditised over time. In addition, customer churn is still quite high and ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) is relatively low.

This poses interesting questions for the Telecom operators:

• Are they really utilising all the principles of the discipline of Customer Experience?
• Which disciplines are they missing out and what is it costing them?
• How much CX training are they willing to provide to their back-office employees?
• How will they create a differential advantage?
• What could they do better to outshine their competition in the face of stiff rivalry?

In my opinion, the areas that require greater focus are the establishment of a formal governance structure with a customer-centric culture that supports it. More recently, I have observed executive positions specific to Customer Experience being advertised which shows emphasis to draw a strategy for the future of Customer Experience delivered by the Telcom companies.

Financial services or banking sector is still a little stuck in the old way of doing things. Abundant automation is taking place over time but the culture is overwhelmed by compliance and control. At times, not enough is done to understand customer persona or their “jobs to be done”, while designing new products and services. Delivery and distribution channels are increasing with recent focus on digital/mobile wallets and the user experience of these new channels possesses new challenges, and even threats.

This introduces a few existential questions for the banks:

• What will be the new face of banking industry given the incumbent digital age?
• How much value are the banks willing to provide to their front-office employees?
• How will they provide critical ‘moments of truth’?
• How will the (physical and digital) interfaces be designed for better experience?
• What would define Digital Experience for banking?

In my opinion, the areas that would require greater focus in the future are setting up a customer-centric strategy, understanding the voice of the customer, and organisational accountability within a culture that gives value to Customer Experience. Various banks (both commercial and microfinance) are typically at lower stages of the CX maturity model and significant effort is required by them come up the learning curve for better differentiation in the marketplace.

Earlier this year, I noticed the first wave of formal Customer Experience Trainings and Workshops being held in major cities of Pakistan. Greater exposure and buy-in of the value of CX by the leadership in corporate sector would lead to a higher focus on Customer Experience within their respective organisations.

More CX professionals would be placed in senior management teams over time. Currently the state of CX is somewhat unpredictable, but to deliver a consistent memorable Customer Experience, emphasis will have to be placed on internal customers (employees) who will deliver the ultimate experience to (external) customers. In summary, this would require a culture-shift, mindset-shift, and a behavior-shift to make internal customers and external customers a priority in Pakistan.

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