How To Transform Your Organization Into A Customer Experience Powerhouse

Keith Coe
In my previous blog, I discussed why customer experience is important and what the indicators are that your organization needs to transform itself and its customer experience. In this follow-up blog, I cover how an organization transforms to provide a better customer experience as well as lessons that we've learned from our consulting work.
 
Q: How does an organization begin to transform to provide a better customer experience? 
 
A: Transforming customer experience requires a strategy — a vision for what an organization wants the experience to be and a plan to make it happen. Customer experience professionals whom Forrester surveyed identified the lack of a clear strategy as the biggest obstacle to customer experience success. To overcome this obstacle, Forrester recommends a three-phased approach.
 
 
In practice, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for transforming customer experience. And it’s not just the customer experience that needs to change. Oftentimes, so does the organization itself. It depends on the current situation as well as the nature and scope of the transformation needed. For example, does an organization need to reinvent to compete and lead in a rapidly changing sector? Is it trying to escape commoditization and build the competencies to stay ahead of the pack? Or is the challenge to repair critical customer journeys and better orchestrate customer experience management across functions?
 
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Transforming Your Organization Into A Customer Experience Powerhouse

Keith Coe
Not surprisingly, most executives whom Forrester surveys want their organizations to deliver a better customer experience and to become more customer-centric. But few organizations are achieving this aspiration: 84% of brands in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) got scores of “OK” or worse by customers.
 
Stakes in the race for customer experience excellence are high: Each year, billions of dollars in revenues are in play, to be won or lost due to customer experience. Many organizations are at risk of losing customers and revenues to competitors and digital disruptors that can provide a better customer experience and respond more nimbly to changing customer needs.
 
Executives often ask Forrester how to deliver a better customer experience. I’ve summarized their most common questions and the answers that we base on our consulting work and research:
 
Q: What do you mean by “customer experience”? 
 
A: Forrester defines customer experience broadly: It’s how customers perceive their interactions with an organization. These interactions range from their overall relationship to specific customer journeys and touchpoints, both digital and nondigital.  
 
Q: Why does customer experience matter?  How does it affect financial results?
 
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Calling All CX Pros: An Opportunity To Get Data And Participate In Forrester’s Research

Sam Stern

Everyone I talk to has internalized the importance of improving customer experience delivery in the age of the customer. But in today’s hypercompetitive business landscape, and with ever-rising consumer expectations, actually delivering better experiences is a tall order. To help understand how companies are tackling this challenge, we’re conducting research on how some of the world’s smartest, busiest people are leading customer experience initiatives in their organizations.

Does that sound like you? If so, I invite you to fill out the Forrester Customer Experience Programs Survey.

We took great effort to create a survey that is frictionless and enjoyable that you should be able to move through quickly. And as a thank you, we’ll send you the survey results when they’re ready. In other words, for a small contribution of your time and insight, you’ll get a rich set of data on how your peers are tackling key CX challenges.

Key details are:

  • Survey open: April 19th - May 6th. But don’t delay, the survey will take about 10 to 12 minutes of your time to complete. Why not take it today?
  • Survey length. The survey has about 30 questions.
  • Topics covered. We cover CX team size, skills, responsibilities, budgets, and reporting structure.
  • Related research. We plan to use the data in a series of reports about CX teams, their roles, responsibilities, and budgets. We will also use it in research about how CX pros foster more customer-centric cultures, work with colleagues, and work with partners across their CX ecosystems to deliver better experiences.
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Design A Customer Feedback Strategy That Doesn’t Annoy Customers

Kara Hoisington

Asking customers for feedback is one of the most direct ways to understand their experiences and needs across touchpoints. However, we’ve all experienced an organization’s attempt to execute this . . . usually poorly.

Surveys are too long. Callbacks are interruptive. What are they going to do with my feedback anyway?

Combatting these types of complaints is core to recent conversations with organizations who are establishing voice of the customer (VoC) programs. Some questions include: How do you ensure you are engaging with customers at the right time in the right channels, what is the main metric you are asking to ensure consistent data collection, and what is the best way to ask the question to encourage participation?

Recently I used Forrester's internal collaboration platform — Chatter — to collect stories about when colleagues were asked for feedback. I received a litany of the good, the bad, and the ugly of customer feedback designs. Below are the main takeaways from my internal and external conversations along with examples to consider as you think about the best way to collect information from your customers.

1. Make It Easy

Uber and a local food delivery service Peach make it easy to give direct feedback on a specific experience. They provide visual cues to remind customers what they are giving feedback on and a simple mechanism for providing it (a star rating). There are various ways of executing, including emojis (think Facebook’s recent updates) and scales (e.g., 1 to 5, 1 to 10). Any of these tactics work, as long as they align with your brand and are asked consistently across touchpoints. Both of these examples also provide an opportunity to give more feedback afterward to provide context to the rating.

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Do You Have The Tools To Make Your Customer Experience Ecosystem Work?

TJ Keitt

A high-quality customer experience is the result of interactions between people in a network, which Forrester calls a customer experience (CX) ecosystem. As followers of this blog know, what holds that ecosystem together are value exchanges facilitated by an open, collaborative business culture. My colleague Sam Stern laid out how businesses define workers' roles and create engagement within this ecosystem. And in January, we published a report explaining the advantage businesses with collaborative CX ecosystems have. But we still have one outstanding question: How do companies enable the free-flowing knowledge and information sharing that make CX ecosystems valuable and successful?

Our new report, "How To Spur Collaboration Across Your Customer Experience Ecosystem," grapples with the enablement question from a technology standpoint. Why focus on technology? The people who constitute a CX ecosystems are never entirely colocated, yet they must share and discuss business artifacts (e.g., marketing collateral, contracts, designs) in order to make decisions that affect customers' experience. This problem requires a technical solution.

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What The World Can Learn From Japan's Exquisite Service Culture

Ryan Hart

Those of you who have spent time in Japan might have noticed that interactions with service staff there play out in a carefully choreographed blend of ceremony and gratitude, regardless of whether you’re buying a coffee at the corner shop or a bag at a local boutique. The paradox is that this delightful customer experience occurs despite most companies in Japan lacking the accountability, rigor, and coordination that characterize leading CX global organizations.

What's interesting though, is that a high level of empathy enables Japanese organizations to overcome their CX maturity shortcomings by delivering an exquisite level of hospitality service. This empathy-focused culture is rooted in what the Japanese call omotenashi, a spirit of unobtrusive and respectful approach to guests that anticipates their needs, bestows respect, and surprises them at every point in the service scenario.

One misconception is that this exquisite hospitality is solely and inherently connected to Japanese culture and cannot be easily replicated elsewhere. Parents and schools inculcate an awareness of and sense of empathy toward others into Japanese children from an early age, and this ethos permeates Japanese society. However, as Charles Darwin pointed out in his book, The Descent of Man, everyone is born with an intrinsic level of empathy that remains present to varying degrees in all of us. Companies should recognize that omotenashi can take root anywhere and can begin planting the seeds of an omotenashi culture in their companies by codifying CX empathy programs that, in principle:

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Measure Emotions In Customer Experiences To Improve Loyalty

Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian

Do you know how your customers feel about their experiences with your firm? Customers’ emotions can damage — or improve — customers’ perception of the overall experience and your firm’s ability to grow. Customers’ emotions affect whether you’ll lose or keep them, whether they will buy more or less from you, and whether they will spread good or bad word of mouth about your company.

In a recent episode of CX Cast, I spoke about how to measure emotions in customer experience. Listen to the podcast below.

For detailed insights, check out my report, "How To Measure Emotion In Customer Experience" (subscription required). 

Early on in my research, I found that most current CX measurement programs don’t quantify customers’ emotions. Instead, they focus almost exclusively on metrics that reflect a rational or cognitive evaluation of experiences. Measuring emotions — and making sense of all of the tools and methods that claim to do just that — is hard. What’s more, a deep-seated skepticism about the trustworthiness of emotion measurement prevails in organizations — making it harder to get buy-in for emotion metrics.

But you can learn a lot from organizations that measure emotions in customer experience. 

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Don’t Let Volatile Markets Scare You Away From Customer Experience Investments

Harley Manning

If you like horror shows, forget The Walking Dead and check out global markets: In 2016, US stocks got off to their worst start ever. Oil prices are in the toilet — taking oil company stocks with them — and neither looks to fully recover any time soon. Of course, both of these Nightmares on Wall Street might pale in comparison to what a Brexit could do to volatility in foreign exchange rates (and therefore your profit and loss).

In the past, you might have expected China to ride to the rescue. But that won’t happen: The Chinese economy just grew at its slowest rate in 25 years

Companies that obsess over these developments might be tempted to panic and cut spending on customer experience improvement programs, despite the fact that many firms are sitting on piles of cash. But cutting CX budgets is a terrible idea because CX is the greatest potential source of competitive advantage — especially in times of high market volatility. For example:

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The Public Is Still Skeptical Of Federal Digital Customer Experience

Rick Parrish

The White House has been trying to improve the federal digital customer experience (CX) since 2011. But when I published my first report and blog on the topic in 2015, the situation was still dire. A Forrester survey had just shown that, for instance:

  • Only two-fifths of the public agreed that the federal government should focus on offering more digital services.
  • Fewer than a third of Americans wanted federal mobile apps that tailor safety alerts and other government information to the user’s location.
  • Just two-fifths of people were interested in a single-sign-on credential for federal websites.
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Customer Obsession Is An Employee Engagement Strategy, Too

Sam Stern

CX pros: What's better than delivering experiences that delight customers? Doing so, while helping your colleagues feel more engaged with their work. That's a nice thought, and few would dispute the importance of engaging employees to deliver better experiences. In fact, most execs have internalized the ideas laid out more than 20 years ago in the service-profit chain theory, which is that employee satisfaction leads to customer loyalty that in turn leads to profits. So why then, according to Gallup, do employee engagement rates remain stubbornly unchanged year after year? 

Maybe it's because companies haven't offered employees what they want most: purpose in their work, the chance to master new skills, and the autonomy to figure out the best way to work. Those three characteristics show up again and again in academic research studying what makes people engaged or satisfied in their work.

The good news for CX pros is that asking their colleagues to contribute to great CX gives them that sense of purpose, asks them to master new skills, and requires autonomy for employees to respond to customer needs and requests appropriately in the moment. In my recent report, "Customer Obsession Is An Employee Engagement Strategy, Too," I make the case for focusing on improving customer experience delivery as a way to drive greater employee engagement  and all its benefits like higher retention and productivity rates. To do that effectively, though, CX pros must:

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