Companies should focus on ROX, contends latest PwC consumer survey

27 March 2019 5 min. read
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Celebrity and ‘influencer’ endorsements have the most impact on product/service adoption. Fact or fiction? Find out in PwC's latest consumer insights survey.

Taking in the habits of more than 20,000 online consumers from 25-plus territories around the world, including respondents from Greater China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, PwC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey opens with a call for a new metric: Return on Experience – with the firm declaring that companies which can provide a superior customer experience will ultimately run out the winners.

ROX, as the firm fashions it, rather than just the traditional return on investment measure sharpens the focus on the customer experience, allowing companies to assess investments in the areas where customers interact directly with their brand – an ever more important factor for businesses when advances in technology have placed the customer in the box-seat. So, do celebrity and ‘influencer’ endorsements have the most impact on product/service adoption? No, and far from it.Online consumption; Smartphones vs. PCs“It’s been a full decade since the Great Recession ushered in what’s often called the new normal, a supposed recalibration of what’s possible in terms of global economic growth,” the report opens. “But a funny thing happened: the world’s consumers displayed unexpected resilience, driven by technological advances that have unleashed a Golden Age of consumption, offering a worldwide bazaar of goods and services – open day and night – to anyone with a mobile phone.”

According to PwC, mobile technology and a frictionless experience are the keys. The firm’s latest Global Consumer Insights Survey (GCIS) has shown that online shopping continues to grow, both in the number of consumers and frequency, with almost a third of consumers now buying products online at least weekly – up five percentage points on last year. Those who never shop online are also dwindling, down three percentage points to just 7 percent of respondents.

Of that daily and weekly shopping, smartphones have now for the first time surpassed PCs as the most preferred method to make purchases online, up to 24 percent of all channels. Here though, PwC debunks another fiction, that in-store shopping is flat or declining. In fact, according to the survey responses, in-store shopping accounts for 49 percent of activity, up five percentage points on last year alone and eight whole points on the 41 percent recorded in 2017. This is where friction comes in.Asia leads growth in mobile paymentsPerhaps the most eye-opening statistic from this year’s survey is the dramatic one-year rise in the number of people making mobile payments in-store, particularly in Asia. While China remains way out in front of the globe as to the acceptance of mobile systems of payment (with 86 percent of locals surveyed having used one), the number in Vietnam jumped by 24 points from 31 percent to 61 percent in a single year. Thailand also rose by nearly 20 points (to 67 percent), while most ASEAN countries also recorded growth of more than 10 percent.

“The key to a great end-to-end customer experience isn’t just about the shopping and retail experience – it spans across industries,” comments John Maxwell, PwC’s Global Consumer Markets Leader. “Consumers are looking for a seamless and easy purchasing journey, and companies can achieve this by using a blend of both physical and digital approaches. The result is a greater return on experience with the customer and more lasting results for businesses.”

Citing concierge desks in hotels or checkout counters in department stores as examples, which might seem like opportunities to engage with customers, PwC’s global chief experience officer David Clarke notes that they can instead slow down and frustrate people, impacting real engagement. “Mobile is actually helping consumers enjoy deeper relationships with their favourite retailers and brands,” Clarke says. “It makes for fewer frustrating, high-friction interactions for customers.”Building ROX creates a virtuous circleHere, the firm suggests that companies – particularly those in sectors where customer acquisition requires education, explanation or personalisation – can create opportunity by augmenting an in-person interaction with digital content throughout the life-cycle of an interaction, with the design of these blended experiences being one of the greatest opportunities for a company to boost its ROX. But how does a company go about measuring its ROX?

PwC says, by understanding the critical few behaviours that are the most important to creating and delivering excellent customer experiences and by establishing a baseline through a set of fact-based questions. How strong is your employees’ emotional commitment to your brand purpose, for example? And, how much progress are you making in getting your influencers involved with customer experience initiatives – that is, your ‘authentic informal influencers’, those employees who influence and energise others without having a formal leadership position.

“Ways to assess your responses to these questions can be developed over time into a more comprehensive model across all factors that go into ROX,” the authors conclude. “However, you can realise value quickly as you focus on an initial a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) for business decision making. Designing metrics around the ROX framework will allow you to see the forest for the trees as you dive deep into experience design for specific CX and EX priorities.”