Satisfaction is the differential between expectation and the actual experience. Exceeding expectation is key to understanding delivery. It is an art perfected by great brands. Satisfaction is not about statements of intent that set expectations. Customer Experience (CX) leaders offer continuous non-sales led communication. Proactive expectation setting communications is the new normal. CX has become fluid, shaped by the responses of different players in the market space. Appreciating altered expectations is a vital component in designing the right digital experiences for clients.

Multi-channel engagement is now the norm. Clients want to use all channels possible. Digitalization assures that companies and bureaucrats understand that citizens are time-poor. Clients now demand instant gratification. Removing needless obstacles, blockages and bureaucracy to enable the digital citizens to achieve their objectives quickly can shape brand loyalty. Businesses must now respond to the personal circumstances of front line health workers who need special access to goods and services, the elderly, the vulnerable who need additional assistance, and those who are working from home or attending school virtually. Experiences tuned to personal circumstances are now expected. Corporate kindness is a new business fundamental and expresses how a company operates from within.

The Coronavirus abyss plunged humanity into an infinite present. Everywhere people were unable to imbibe anything beyond the immediate. At the onset of the disease, a foreboding hollowness captivated the human imagination.  As the pandemic evolved with viral mutations, digital transformation of forlorn business models refashioned client experiences in an attempt to restore hope and equity. New customer experiences were strongly tailored to the circumstances of a new “Digital Citizen”. Experiences that made the client feel valued and in a position of control.

Using a Use-Case approach, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) created a roadmap of interrelated services and initiatives to add value to customer, employee and stakeholder experiences across these public utilities. “Rammas”, a virtual employee at DEWA, uses artificial intelligence to analyse customers’ needs using their queries and Open Data. Rammas has responded to over two million requests through many channels and uses a bilingual instant voice chat feature.

The digital transformation journey of the Electricity and Water utilities of this state authority has four pillars: 1) the deployment of solar technologies; 2) the operation of a renewable energy network using state-of-the-art energy storage technologies; 3) providing electricity and water services using AI technologies; and 4) Moro — DEWA’s smart data hub that is linked to a network of Future Customer Happiness Centres. These centres provide digital services through smart apps, AI, robots and smart self-service platforms that support green paper free customer transactions.

Tayseer is DEWA’s smart payment platform, that uses an App and offers remote support through a live chat with a robot. Using a feedback loop, DEWA reshapes itself and its services to make all stakeholders happy. The KPMG November 2020, UAE Customer Experience Excellence Report flags a number of sectors that have focused on the new customer experience. Carrefour operates 31 hypermarkets and 80 supermarkets and hires 10,000 workers. The business is committed to enabling access to fresh, organic and local foods. The business model embraces households, partners, producers, public authorities and benevolent organizations.

The model brings grocery retail and lifestyle brands into one ecosystem. The marketplace lists more than 250,000 products and it operates different store formats. Carrefour’s “Click and Collect” allows shoppers to fill their virtual baskets, place the order, select a pickup point and a timeslot. Groceries selected from virtual shelves are packaged, and where necessary refrigerated, until they are collected. Carrefour Mobimart, offers an extensive variety of groceries and a selection of organic produce, frozen food, canapés, drinks and light household items along an assigned route, with timed stops.

Pilar De Miguel Veira, Head of Experience Design & Innovation, UAE and Oman, has been reliably measuring brand advocacy and loyalty in the Lower Gulf Region. Advocacy is demarcated as the likelihood of recommending a brand. Loyalty is a measure of how likely a customer is to continue supporting a commercial endeavour or the decision to suspend the relationship and migrate to another brand. To reap the financial rewards underpinning brand loyalty and advocacy, KPMG recommends that companies rebuild the brand around six (6) pillars:  1) Integrity, 2) Resolution, 3) Expectations, 4) Time & Effort, 5) Personalization and 6) Empathy. These six pillars are mandatory if companies intend to compete for the new reality customer and wish to maintain high performing customer experience (CX) rankings.

Covid-19 collapsed into a trust-building moment when companies were obliged to publicly create trust throughout organizations. The public expected organizational behaviour that reflected trustworthiness. The public wanted companies to act with compassion and sensitivity to the varied factors that impact brand loyalty and advocacy. Companies also wished that the newly built relationships of trust would not be eroded by sullen service.

Customer problem solving brought service recovery to the fore during Covid-19. This mind-set has shifted the focus from products on shelves or files in a bureaucracy to client engagement. Resolving customer issues resets the client-company relationship and places the public with promptness and finesse in the position which they should have always occupied.