In a recent webinar with Alida, digital analyst Brian Solis shares what companies need to do to lead the customer experience revolution. The webinar was very timely given how, according to Gartner, 89 percent of companies expect to compete based on customer experience (CX). For many companies, improving their customer experience strategy and providing a seamless end-to-end experience is one of the most difficult but most urgent business puzzles to solve.
If you work in CX, here are three actionable tips worth noting.
1. Close the “Relevance Gap”
Brands today are “co-created” with customers, according to Solis. The experiences that customers share with other customers online (what Solis refers to as “shared experiences”) form the basis for a brand’s image. In the digital age, shared experiences are captured in online searches and conversations, shaping customer perception like never before.
— Seth Knapp (@iamsethknapp) April 14, 2016
This notion of shared experiences is something that Nick Stein, senior vice president of marketing at Alida and co-presenter at the webinar, agrees with. Today’s customers have become their own intelligence ecosystems, says Stein, and we now live in an age when one customer can either spark a firestorm or inspire a new product or a great campaign.
Solis says that most companies are not in a position to take advantage of shared experiences. For many brands, there’s a gap between what they say they’ll do and what people feel (and) share about the brand. Narrowing this divide will allow companies to unlock their innovation potential, but doing so requires engaging with customers to answer a critical question: What would my digital customer do?
To answer this question, companies need to give customers “outlets to share their feedback in a meaningful way and ensure that they know you are truly hearing them,” offers Stein.
2. Engage with Connected Consumers at Every Touchpoint
It’s no secret that today’s customers are super connected. As a result, companies must make sure that their customer experience strategy and investments align well with the expectations, behaviors and motivations of connected customers.
The digital customer has given way to the rise of digital transformation: the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital consumers. The point of digital transformation isn’t just to beef up a company’s technology capability; the end goal is to “understand how innovation can shape the new customer experience,” says Solis.
To pull off digital transformation, companies must realign or fund new investment in technology or business models to more effectively engage digital customers and create new value at every touchpoint of the customer journey.
3. Look for Actionable Insight
In an effort to improve CX, companies track many different metrics. But often, the data they have on hand isn’t useful.
“Most investments in customer experience are not successful,” shares Stein. For instance, a study by the consulting firm Temkin found that only 11 percent of CX investments made a significant impact on the business. The explosion of the marketing technology landscape isn’t helping companies make better CX decisions either.
“There is a lot of data, but you can’t just find the actionable insight that you need,” says Stein.
Part of the problem is that companies often ask the wrong questions and, as a result, end up measuring the wrong things. Take the Net Promoter Score (NPS), for example. This number aims to find out if a customer would recommend a brand to a friend or a family member, essentially asking people, “Would you recommend this?”
That type of measurement has its value, but it’s not enough to improve CX. According to Solis, companies must ask better questions that would inform action. In order to enhance the customer experience strategy, companies need to know why people would or would not recommend. Understanding “why” delivers the insight you need to understand the customer journey and map it more effectively.
Stein warns that spamming customers with surveys is the wrong solution. Instead, he encourages business leaders to think bigger. “The only way to truly connect with your customers is to redefine your relationship with customers and recognize them as people, not data points.”
For Solis, the best way for companies to improve customer relationships (and ultimately CX) is to build a community. “Innovation is community,” he says. “It’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.”
— Margaret Hartwell (@MPHpov) April 14, 2016
Our webinar with Solis highlights the difficult fact that while most companies see CX as a source of competitive advantage, most have significant work to do in meeting the expectations of customers. Companies must re-visit traditional ways of measuring CX and consider new strategies for getting actionable insight.
More importantly, companies need to see CX as more than just a project. Leading the customer experience revolution requires a rethinking of the way companies engage with their customers and how customer intelligence is used to improve the end-to-end customer experience.