In previous blogs, we’ve looked at the merits of a cloud-native strategy for delivering greater agility and scalability. But perhaps the most powerful business benefit of going cloud native is the potential to enhance customer experience across digital channels and touchpoints.
Customer expectations are changing fast. Waiting in line or on hold for customer services is seen as archaic, while remote ordering, personalized support, and mobile apps are order of the day. Cloud-native development not only drives internal agility and innovation, but it also enables IT to improve the customer experience on a continual, iterative basis through a DevOps model. Likewise, it enables businesses to make better use of data to understand and adapt to changing customer expectations.
Could this be the key to sustaining business in an era of fleeting customer loyalty and massive digital transformation?
Recognizing the link
In Cloud native comes of age, our research found that the organizations that are furthest ahead in developing cloud-native applications focus more on improving the customer experience than anything else. Customer experience is the top priority for 90% of leaders, in contrast to 68% of laggards. 87% of leaders also said that that moving to cloud native had enabled them to provide a better experience to their customers, in contrast to 65% of laggards.
When asked how cloud-native architecture helps bring organizations closer to their customers, Abby Kearns, Executive Director for the Cloud Foundry Foundation, had this to say:
“You’re suddenly having a conversation and engaging with your customers differently. But you’re also developing applications faster as a result of engaging with customers, getting their feedback and talking to the business.” But why is it so important to focus on the customer experience above all else? Simply put, your customers are no longer as loyal—even compared to say 10 or 15 years ago. With rampant digitalization and a wealth of choice at their fingertips, why should they be? It’s said we’re living in an era of digital Darwinism, and it’s only through competitive innovation that the strongest will prevail.”
Enabling better customer experiences
Unlike a monolithic environment, a single update or software change doesn’t bring the whole operation screeching to a halt. Instead, cloud-native microservices allow IT to deliver continual, iterative improvements—there is no “final version.” It’s an approach you see in action every day when you use popular cloud-native services such as Netflix and Amazon. They constantly update their code based on customer feedback, regardless of whether it’s voiced directly, in-app or on social media—and thanks to their cloud native DevOps model, deployment is seamless for both IT and the customer.
Rather than hide IT teams in their silos, cloud native enables developers to engage proactively with customers through initiatives such as Design Thinking workshops. Here, IT and other executives can sit with the customer, look at what does and doesn’t work, and take their proposed solutions directly to the cloud for quick, iterative updates. Other scenarios include beta testing for a targeted subset of customers. Here, IT can communicate with customers directly, offer them exclusive access to a new service and use their feedback to make valuable, real-time improvements in the cloud prior to launch. The only catch is learning how to filter what feedback is, or isn’t, valuable. Internal communication between IT teams can help resolve this, and using an approach such as A/B testing means you’ll soon discover if a customer’s suggested change represents the majority. And of course, in a cloud-native environment, anything can be set up or pulled down without business disruption.
Innovation for all
Cloud-native leaders are reaping significant benefits from their investments. Not only are they becoming better collaborators (70% agree cloud native has improved their ability to collaborate with external partners), but it has also helped to realign their top strategic challenges toward the customer experience.
When asked where their future strategy challenges lie, 80% of leaders said, “improving the customer experience” compared to 59% of laggard organizations, no doubt as a result of seeing the benefits first-hand that cloud native can bring to the customer experience.
See the full survey results, and learn how you can obtain an expert analysis of cloud native and what it means for the future of your business and customers: download the complete research report here.