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.
Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian and I are collaborating on a new report on how B2B companies can make the business case for customer experience (CX). And we'd love your input.
How will clients benefit from this report?
With longer sales cycles, fewer customer accounts, and an abundance of client roles and influencers, B2B companies are challenged in making the link between improving CX and financial results. But without this link, B2B companies will struggle to get adequate funding to sustain their CX programs over the long term. To help CX professionals at B2B companies overcome challenges to justifying their CX programs, this report will explore:
What do customer and business data CX pros need to collect to support their business cases?
That's right, Forrester's Customer Experience team is jumping on the podcasting bandwagon and launching a weekly CX podcast! Each week me and my cohost, Senior Analyst Sam Stern, will be speaking with an analyst from our team about their hot-off-the-press research or discussing relevant CX topics in the news. We'll package these up in easily digestible 10 to 20 minute episodes and best of all, these podcasts are available to everyone.
In our first episode, Sam interviews me about how to build a shared customer experience vision. You can listen below, but we recommend you subscribe on iTunes or through your favorite iPhone podcasting app by searching for "Forrester's CX Cast" so you never miss an episode. If you need help accessing or subscribing to the podcast, please contact our producer Curt Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you understand your company's vision for the customer experience (CX) it wants to deliver? How many of your colleagues do? If you're a CX professional, how many colleagues have you shared your company's vision with?
My guess is not many, and I confess, it's not really a guess — I have data that shows few CX pros regularly share their CX visions/strategies with all employees, and even fewer do so in a consistent way.
And that’s a shame, because great customer experiences are built on solid strategies executed by people sharing a common vision. In other words, a CX strategy must see light to be actionable. Only then can it direct the activities and decision-making of managers and employees. In my recent research, I found successful strategy communication requires a four-phase approach:
Inspire a sense of purpose. Spare the 50-page strategy manifestos and instead share a simple illustration, video, or set of promises that captures the essence of the CX vision and draws employees in. UK airline easyJet created a one-page customer charter that described the new easyJet flying promise to customers in plain language. Its CX team developed icons to represent each of the five promises and then enlisted its customer champions to act out life-size versions of the icons for photos and video, which it plans to share internally and externally.
I recently had the pleasure of facilitating three customer journey mapping workshops for clients. For me, the most rewarding part of these workshops is when, all of a sudden, you see the light bulb go on for the participants. It can be the realization that their customer has to jump through an inordinate number of hoops to submit a simple service request or have to wait five to 10 days for repair . . . or when the workshop participants realize they have no idea what their customers are doing or thinking, but maybe they should.
Just as the light-bulb moment can be different for each person, the insights they deem most valuable can vary and include:
Ideas for designing future-state experiences. A group of participants from a retailer created a future-state journey map illustrating how customers could sign up for a credit card and rewards program while shopping in-store. They identified scenarios for how store associates could approach customers with credit card offers without seeming intrusive as well as appropriate opportunities to follow up with customers by email or mobile app if they chose not to enroll right away. These types of insights can then inform the design of the new credit card and rewards experience.
A sense of empathy for the customer. We ask workshop participants within the same organization to wear name tags because not only do we not know them but also most of the time they don’t know each other. In one workshop, the organization was siloed, as most are, and each participant owned her own small functional part of the customer journey. But no one had insight into or ownership of the entire process. When brought together to analyze the health of the end-to-end journey, participants walked away with a shared understanding that what they were each doing individually wasn’t working for the customer as a whole.
In celebration of the season, Best Western Great Britain is sharing a new idea for a summer expedition every day on its blog. Suggestions include taking in a sheep race in Moffat (between Carlisle and Glasgow), sampling some 4,000 cheeses at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich (the largest cheese event in the UK), and catching the first few stages of the Tour de France in Yorkshire (who knew the Tour started in Northern England?).
It’s all part of its “hotels with personality” campaign, which aims to celebrate the unique story behind each of the brand’s 276 properties in the UK. In addition to rebranding around this vision, Best Western had to improve its customer experience to live up to its brand promise. But getting support from independent hotel owners and operators to fund its ambitious customer experience strategy wasn’t easy. To win support, the brand had to:
Gradually build credibility. Instead of winning support for the entire strategy at once, Best Western tackled some easy changes first, including redesigning its website and improving its internal communications to make them consistent with the new "hotels with personality" vision. Best Western also ran a TV ad campaign featuring hotel employees highlighting the individuality of each hotel. The result was that its hotel owners and employees felt a renewed sense of pride in Best Western as a brand, not just a logo, and confidence in the customer experience strategy. It certainly didn't hurt that the TV campaign drove a year-on-year sales increase of 30% — the highest increase in Best Western Great Britain's history.
A lot of people have been talking about Facebook’s new Nearby Friends feature for their mobile app, which gives users the ability to see which friends are nearby. But less discussed, and perhaps just as significant, is another change — to a more contextually-relevant Facebook profile.
In the past, when you checked out other users’ profiles, you would see the same static information including their profile photo and links to their friends and “about” pages. There were two problems with this. First, the information is rarely updated, so it becomes stale. Second, if you don’t know the person, it takes a bit of digging through their pages to find out if you know them or have anything in common.
The Facebook iPhone app’s recent update addresses these concerns by taking a contextual approach. Specifically, it presents more personalized and dynamic information, such as whether you and this person share any mutual friends, whether you happen to live in the same city, and what the friend has been up to recently. The app also prioritizes this information, so it’s one of the first things you see after you click on a user’s profile.
In fact, we’ve seen this trend in mobile apps — the best apps are moving away from static web-like experiences and are delivering more personal, relevant content, fast. In my report, "The Best And Worst Of Mobile User Experience," I found that leading mobile user experiences share common attributes that separate them from the pack. These leading experiences: