Closing the customer experience (CX) gap

 

Passengers motion

Photo / GraphicStock

By Caroline White

People worldwide are finally waking up to the importance of customer-centricity. Forrester estimates that 84 per cent of organisations aspire to be CX leaders and Gartner says that for the third consecutive year marketing budgets are on the increase in a bid to improve it

Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Steve Cannon described CX back in 2015 as ‘the new marketing’ and every year Gartner report that it is increasingly on people’s agendas.

Hundreds of CX events are popping up worldwide and they are attracting all of the C-Suite – not just the marketing teams.

Unfortunately there is a gap between customer expectations and what they are actually experiencing. Famous research by Bain and Company in 2005 highlighted the staggering difference – 80 per cent of companies believed they were delivering  a ‘superior experience’ whereas only 8 per cent of customers agreed with them. This gap has closed slightly but there is still a long way to go, particularly as nowadays customers expect to be able to interact with a brand via multiple channels.

But why does CX matter?

Forrester defines customer experience as ‘how customers perceive their interactions with your company’. Tony Hillson, chair at Auckland’s recent  Customer 3.1 Summit said the industry has changed a lot over the past few years due to a shift from focussing on traditional service design and delivery towards what was described by keynote speaker, futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson as a ‘transformation economy’’.

This transformation economy has been born out of a steep rise in the number of digital disruptors, e.g. Uber, AirBnB and shopping apps such as Wish. Digitalisation is making the world smaller –  another example is US retailer Amazon who is expanding across Australia and rumoured to hit New Zealand soon too.

These disruptors raise the bar for more traditional organisations who will need to enhance their CX to keep up – and that’s not just B2C but B2B too.

By implementing CX principles into strategy, technology, processes and people management, it is possible to keep up with disruptors, reduce costs and increase revenue. Forrester estimates that companies who excel at CX grow a staggering 5.1 times quicker than those who don’t.

And how do we improve it?

Here are ten top tips to taking your customers on a journey across mulitple channels:

  1. Plot the customer journey and work out where the most value can be added. Forrester says customers are willing to pay 4.5 times more for excellent CX. Look for ways to give them an memorable experience which makes them feel special. This doesn’t necessary mean the experience is bespoke but rather personalised on a large scale, e.g. Google remembers details such as where you visit frequently so it can provide you with updates and information relevant to you.
  2. Hone both the left and right brains. Left is the logical analytical side and right is the creative side. Both are needed to solve problems and communicate with everyone, e.g. when Benji Karsch first started working at US healthcare company, Cigna, there were no metrics relating to any CX initiatives. This meant they had no idea what was successful and what wasn’t – so the board didn’t value them. As a result he worked on a left-brained solution to impress the board and ensure buy in to future initiatives.
  3. Don’t spread yourself too thin, focus on one main metric, e.g. the net promoter or customer satisfaction score and link it to financial metric, e.g.  10% increased revenue if it is achieved.
  4. Work on two levels of buy-in. Start at the top with metric-based business cases for the decision makers, e.g. we will lose $5m if x happens. Have case studies from previous projects worked on and use storytelling to evoke emotion. Sign up at least one senior person to help drive CX initiatives and make sure their buy in is visible.
  5. Accenture report that 89 per cent of customers want a consistent CX across all channels, a seamless omnichannel. As soon as there is senior level buy-in, push to make CX and digital experience part of the same strategy. Hamish Nuttall, founder of the Naked Bus said ‘digital is just how we do business nowadays.
  6. Now it is time to get everyone else involved. People are more engaged when they come to the project early. Forrester say that companies with engaged employees have operating margins 4.1 times larger than those whose employees aren’t. Also CX initiatives should come from all departments, particularly from frontline employees who are interacting with customers on a daily basis. Encourage an experimental and adaptive culture. Benji Karsch, started a successful internal marketing campaign for employees at US healthcare firm, Cigna, called ‘Go You’. It challenged employees to go above and beyond with customers. To help foster this, they were allowed to choose specially branded t-shirts and decorate their name tag to express their individuality.
  7. Benchmark regularly so progress is visible and get feedback at different points of the customer journey so gaps can be found.  There are lot of mechanisms for feedback including pulse surveys, forums and social media. Jason Delamore, Marketing GM at Auckland Airport said an impressive 400,000 people have given feedback via a tablet in the airport in the last year.
  8. Boost customer trust so you can collaborate and innovate together. Rod Moynihan, Director of Sales at Zendesk says customers value empowerment, transparency and responsiveness above anything else so look at developing these traits. Once trust is formed, test the water with some small CX changes, e.g. a stripped-back, low cost prototype on a small section of people so there is little impact if it goes wrong and then expand from there.

    CXGroupPic

    Panel discussion: Lto R: Benjamin Karsch, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Revlon David Hughes, ‎General Manager e-Commerce and Customer Insights, Briscoe Group Moderator: Kat Hardisty, Design Lead, Optimal Workshop Roxanne Salton, Head of Digital Strategy and Delivery, Mercury. Photo / Scott Clegg/ Conferenz

  9. Balance innovation, analytics and common sense. Although it is important to listen to customers, don’t just implement their suggestions blindly. Get to the root of whatever the pain-point is and work out the most efficient way of solving it. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your solution has to use new technology such as blockchain, artificial intelligence or machine learning – technology is just a means to an end.
    In some cases it can work really well, e.g. When Lowes Innovation Labs showed people how to do DIY with a Hololens it resulted in 36 per cent better recall than when they watched an instructional video, but often you can be better off sticking to more tried and tested technology. That said, consider the analytics opportunities that are available with Internet of Things devices – just be sure that are completely secure and enhance CX too.
  10. And finally never underestimate the importance of getting insights firsthand from the customer – it is much easier to empathise with them this way. David Hughes, ‎General Manager e-Commerce and Customer Insights at Briscoe Group has access to the customer feedback inbox from his email account. Natalie Kerschner, Senior UX Specialist at BNZ made whole teams of people go into branches posing as real business customers and Roxanne Salter, Head of Digital Strategy at Mercury had once worked where senior people had to do a monthly shift on the shopfloor. It was important, said Roxanne,  not to be afraid of asking stupid questions – since this is how issues were picked up on.

The Datacom Digital Experience team works with organisations to discover which CX strategies are best for them. We have a wide range of tricks in our toolbox from alignment workshops to journey mapping to concept testing.

Interested in knowing more? Email digital@datacom.co.nz.

 

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