Companies should focus on ROX, contends latest PwC consumer survey

27 March 2019

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.”


EY acquires Australian SAP consultancy Plaut IT and Malaysian subsidiary

01 February 2019

Professional services firm EY has made another purchase in the digital domain, picking up Australian SAP specialist Plaut IT and its Malaysian subsidiary Baseliner.

The third such acquisition in the APAC region in a matter of months, following the purchase of Singapore-headquartered digital consultancy Adelphi in November and the Malaysia-based cybersecurity specialist Xynapse a month prior, Ernst & Young has further boosted its digital capabilities with the pick-up of Australian SAP solutions provider Plaut IT and its Malaysian subsidiary Baseliner Consulting.

The acquisition will see another 130 digital professionals join EY’s Asia-Pacific technology services practice – with around 30 of them to be based in Malaysia – adding to the more than 200 experts on-boarded through the prior two deals. The Big Four firm now boasts a regional headcount in the realm of 45,000, contributing to what is its hottest growth market, with EY’s APAC division last year achieving $4.1 billion in revenues at a five-year CAGR of 10.2 percent.

Founded in 2000 and based in Sydney, Plaut IT is one of Australia’s largest locally-owned SAP consultancies, pulling in more than $30 million in revenues in 2017 according to Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) data – with local clients including Toyota, Sanitarium, and a number of state and federal government departments. Plaut’s specialist social media and tech marketing offspring Echo Junction also forms part of the EY purchase, with both to be rebranded.EY acquires Australian and Malaysian SAP consultancy Plaut ITBased in Kuala Lumpur meanwhile, the 2012-founded Baseliner is a SAP solutions specialist providing CRM design and support services. Initially funded and then fully acquired by Plaut in 2013, Baseliner’s managing director and Plaut Chairman David Prior will join EY’s tech services division in Sydney, as well as Plaut CEO Sebastian Moore who has been made partner and Plaut COO and Echo Junction founder Adam Fraser as a Director in EY’s Customer  practice.

“The acquisition provides our team with a well-rounded set of capabilities and skills and provides the potential for us to work on large scale business transformations,” remarked Prior. “EY and Plaut IT put people first while also striving to provide continual value to clients, this alignment of values adds to the strength of the combined group… We are excited about the work we will now have the opportunity to participate in.”

"Agile business transformation is a key solution and growth driver for EY, and this acquisition further enhances our strong SAP capability. In Malaysia, Baseliner has an excellent reputation for its focus on CRM and its capability to deliver SAP cloud enterprise solutions and on-premise services,” said EY Asean Advisory Managing Partner, Chow Sang Hoe, who further noted the year-on-year growth of above 20 percent in EY’s technology transformation business over the past decade.

Although the purchase price remains undisclosed, EY advisory Oceania leader Lynn Kraus revealed to the Australian Financial Review that the firm expects earnings will be accretive within the year. With EY having also picked up Australian boutique change consultancy Articulate in July last year, Krauss also commented on EY’s ongoing market pursuit, with “the largest pipeline of acquisition opportunities that she can remember the firm having had”.