Three Mantras to Drive Customer Experience Innovation in India

Avinash Jhangiani – Chief Innovation Officer, Omnicom Group India

Today all consumer-facing businesses need to serve the informed and impatient Indian consumer enabled by mobile devices. In ad­dition, Indian start-ups and global ecom­merce companies have changed customer experience and marketing as we know it.

As these new age businesses leverage digital and emerging technologies to deliver better products, services and experiences, the spotlight now directly falls on IT departments of large, especially brick and mortar, compa­nies to up their game in this changing landscape.

To top this, what works in the West may not work in India. In the US, CIOs grapple with the ability to of­fer customers with personalized experiences across both their online and physical assets. In India, far more com­plex challenges exist within the ecosystem of organized and unorganized sectors.

Also, while the future of business will be fuelled by mobility, data and technology, the lack of investment cou­pled with the fear of affecting exiting business operations is slowing down change. Also currently disparate data silos exist in companies attempting to go digital. There are issues with information flow and transparency not only across the e-commerce and physical outlets, but also within sales, marketing, operations and customer service.

The holy grail for brick and mortar companies is to combine the [customization, convenience and care] of the physical world with the [comfort, choice and cost] of the online world.

Change is hard but it is the only constant in life. Those who look only to the past or present might miss the fu­ture. Here are three mantras to drive technology-enabled customer experience innovation in India.


I. Think Design first, then Technology

The consequence of consumers today sharing information with everyone in just a few seconds is that the traditional product-centric business model is becoming volatile. All companies now need to adapt their business proposi­tion to a continuous change process that is centred on the customer.

Companies that have tried to copy-paste technologies from devel­oped countries have failed. In this rapidly changing consumer-driven environment, businesses should cul­tivate creative confidence and a pas­sion for experimentation. The need to fail fast with a test and learn ap­proach is much needed today.

Design thinking is a growing trend in problem solving and in­novation that uses a user-centred approach to solve complex business problems and driving radical inno­vation in a collaboration fashion. It’s about designing the right solution, taking into account customer’s be­haviours and the role they will play in the buying process.

II. Hardship-driven Innovation

India is about innovation born out of hardship and necessity. Frugal innovation or Jugaad is generally at the core of innovation. The be­lief that there are better and more cost effective ways to use the mate­rials and processes drives creativity in business.

It’s just not about making things cheaper but also better, more appro­priate and scalable.

In India, innovation is generally not about implementing the best technology but also creatively apply­ing mainstream technologies. This naturally provides greater scale and adoption if implemented with con­sumer insight.

Hacking growth with jugaad comes naturally to most Indian en­trepreneurs. Cash on delivery is a well-known payment type on almost every Indian e-commerce site today. Paytm is finding ways to hack into the daily lives of Indians in every way possible – not just for mobile shopping, but also enabling pay­ments at petrol stations, toll gates and kirana stores.

III. Calm Technology – The Meth­od in the Madness

Today consumers buy experiences, not products. With everything around us becoming increasingly connected to the internet comes the fear of clutter in experiences.

While the right use of consumer data can drive personalization, lack of calm interfaces is job half done.

The concept of calm design that is invisible, humane, and non-in­trusive is now being widely applied to technology design, as per Am­ber Case – a cyborg anthropologist. These factors can improve adoption of new technologies and create a unique customer experience.

Imagine a smart shopping cart that knows your shopping list, helps you navigate the store and guides you to the prod­ucts you need. It also provides offers on these products and serves con­tent like recipes from your favourite chef. A virtual shopping bot makes this entire experience more humane and interactive, only providing help when you need it. It sends out a soft ambient alert letting you know of a discount on a new product that matches your interests.

Technology should be woven into the consumer journey and re­quire the least possible amount of attention. You know it has improved the experience when it communi­cates with context, and assist in a calm and humane manner.