This post is part of a series dedicated to the challenges, opportunities, and realities of federal customer experience. Interested in learning more? Register for our complimentary government CX webinar next week, and be sure to join me as I host Forrester's first-ever CXDC Forumon Sept. 12th in Washington, DC.
It's been 23 years since the White House first told federal agencies to improve the experiences they provide to customers. Yet three presidents, two executive orders, and a bevy of memos and committees later, federal customer experience (CX) is still in crisis. In fact, federal agencies have:
The lowest average score on Forrester's CX Index. The federal average of "poor" was worse than all 17 private sector industries we rated and far below the overall average of "OK." In fact, even the weakest performers in most industries still outscored the government average. The National Park Service and US Postal Service, the highest-rated federal agencies, scored only as high as the average for banks.
A near-monopoly on the worst experiences. Seven out of the 10 worst organizations in the CX Index – and five out of six in the "very poor" category – were US federal agencies. Only internet service providers and TV service providers came close to matching this level of underperformance.
Shockingly bad websites. Forrester's Consumer Technographics survey shows that only 53% of customers agree that federal websites are "exactly what [they] should be." Fewer than three in five customers consider federal sites easy to use or well organized.
Companies use complex software from different vendors to support customer service operations. They use:
Queuing and routing technologies. They capture the customer inquiry, which can be via voice, digital, or social channels, and route and queue the inquiry to the right agent pool.
CRM customer service technologies. They enable customer service agents to create and work the incoming service request.
Workforce optimization technologies. They record agent interactions with customers, evaluate the quality of these interactions, recommend targeted training based on quality scores, manage agent schedules, forecast future schedules and more.
On the negative side, customers are more willing and able to move spend when they encounter poor experiences, meaning companies are facing the risk of confronting a 10% churn reality if they underperform in CX.
Emotions are at the basis of how customers perceive experiences – and why they choose to stay loyal to certain brands. But, not all emotions are equal: Different emotions lead to unique behavioral outcomes depending on context, emotional intensity, and even industry.
For example, in our latest study, my colleague Tom McCann and I measured the emotional impact of CX among banks and retailers in Australia. We discovered that feeling valued is one of the most powerful emotions driving loyalty toward a bank: Australian customers who feel that their bank puts them first are willing to pay a premium for the bank’s experience and are more forgiving when something goes wrong. However, among retail customers, valued is good – but happy is better. Australian retailers that leave customers in a cheery mood are more likely to retain their shoppers and turn their customers into advocates.
And what makes Australian shoppers happy? Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that details in the experience go a long way. For instance, customers are pleased with perceptibly low prices or special deals, stocked inventory, and pleasant customer service reps.
From discussions with our clients in the financial services industry (FSI) in Asia Pacific, we’ve noticed that their digital agenda has changed dramatically over the past 18 months, shifting from a consideration of acquisitions and distribution channels to a broader business transformation imperative.
In fact, leaders at banks and insurance firms are increasingly realizing that:
Customer experience is fast becoming the only competitive differentiator.
Banks and insurance have to accelerate their ability to innovate and deliver new sources of value to customers faster.
There’s a very large graveyard of failed CRM projects. There’s more CRM initiatives that have spiraled out of control to become multimillion-dollar investments that negatively affected large numbers of customer-facing employees and didnt deliver any real results. The cost of poor CRM adoption is twofold: underutilized investment and unmet business objectives.
We recently ran a survey in partnership with CustomerThink to understand the risks and pitfalls that CRM professions need to navigate to achieve a successful CRM technology project. We surveyed 414 individuals who had been involved in a CRM technology project as a business professional in sales, marketing, customer service, or technology management within the past 36 months. Not surprisingly, we found that successful CRM technology projects are not only about choosing the right software. They demand a balanced, multifaceted approach that addresses four critical fundamentals:
People issues.Nearly two-fifths (38%) of respondents stated that their problems were the result of people issues such as slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organizational culture with new ways of working.
CRM Process. One-third (33%) of respondents faced problems because of poor or insufficient definition of business requirements, inadequate business process designs, and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements.
CRM Strategy. One-third (33%) of respondents had challenges related to CRM strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, a lack of organizational readiness, and insufficient solution governancepractices.
The market research industry is built on a fundamental assumption: that any enterprise, product, team, or person can be better than it is today. Researchers mine insights because we are constantly seeking opportunities for greater success and are eager to illuminate the path forward. But researchers aren’t the only ones doing this; although it’s our profession, people around the world share this drive for improvement. These sentiments are at their peak today on New Year’s Eve as we reflect on the highs and lows of the year behind us and resolve to do something better in the year ahead.
Seeking improvement is part of human nature, but in some cases, it’s demanded of us. In the business world, companies that set higher standards also set new consumer expectations and secure customer loyalty. For instance, our Consumer Technographics® data shows that Amazon offers one of the most loved customer experiences across the globe because it provides an unparalleled sense of emotional satisfaction:
In 2015, customer experience (CX) rose to the No. 1 priority for business and technology leaders. In 2016, it will be among the top 10 critical success factors determining who will win and who will fail in the age of the customer. And for good reason: Better customer experience correlates with stronger revenue growth. But this is only true when competitors provide meaningful differences in the experiences they offer and unsatisfied customers have the freedom to jump ship when treated poorly. So in order to reap the benefits that better CX can provide, in 2016, companies will need to get down to the real business of not only providing good experiences but also breaking away from the pack with meaningful internal operational changes.
This won’t be easy, because success in the age of the customer requires shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model that puts customers at the center of all strategic decision-making. In 2016, leaders will tackle the challenge of making this shift; laggards will underestimate the magnitude and speed of change required and will instead push forward with uncoordinated digital efforts and flawed business priorities.
CX professionals managed to overcome these challenges by creating the preconditions for success. Following their lead, you should:
Rethink metrics and analytics to link CX to financials. CX pros need to look beyond the usual metrics like revenue or NPS to find the metrics that help link CX to business success.. For example food packaging company Tetra Pak found that a custom partnership index was a better predictor of sales and volume growth than other metrics they tested.
Use customer understanding tools to segment clients by role and influence. Working with internal stakeholders that cross the customer life cycle, CX pros can use qualitative research or journey mapping to understand the different roles within client accounts and the role they play in overall account health. For example, Walker Information conducts qualitative research with its client’s customers to identify the decision-makers and user.
We are notoriously bad at knowing ourselves. Science shows that we are not quite as beautiful, or smart, or ethical as we would like to think. As a result, our self-proclaimed beliefs do not always translate into action; often, we say we’ll do “the right thing” but (consciously or not) we’ll proceed to do the opposite. Are we really nothing more than delusional creatures of habit bound to repeat our mistakes? No – actually, far from it. Certain individuals are hyperaware of their values and follow through on decisions and actions accordingly. Although a small group, these consumers spark awareness, change their behavior, demand transparency, and inspire trends.
My latest report examines what, when, and why consumers buy, when values are central to their decision-making process. In my research, I found that, despite limited knowledge and patterns of self-deceit, consumers want to purchase from companies that embrace ethical practices. More broadly, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of company values and are opening their wallets when company values resonate with theirs: