Customer Experience (CX) is one of the most highly discussed topics in organizations today. By definition, CX encompasses all interactions across the entire life cycle of the customer relationship. According to a recent survey by Oracle, of 1,300 senior executives in 18 countries, 97 percent believe CX is critical to their success. In addition, the study revealed a significant difference in perceptions between what executives think about the experience that they provide customers, versus what customers think about the experience that they receive. Only 49 percent of executives believe customers will switch brands due to a poor customer experience, yet 89 percent of customers say that they have switched because of a poor experience.
In the same study, improving CX was found to be one of the top three priorities for the next two years, according to 93 percent of study participants, and 91 percent want to be a CX leader. However, 37 percent are just now getting started on a formal CX initiative, so when it comes to execution, businesses seem to be stuck in idle. To be effective, a CX strategy must be aligned across the organization and encompass all customer touch points. The survey results found that conflicting key performance indicators and lack of alignment are among the biggest hurdles to achieving CX success. Alignment is especially critical to developing a CX strategy that results in positive, consistent, and brand-relevant experiences for your customers. Your business must align organizational goals between departments and lines of business to facilitate the best customer experience possible.
The first step in moving your CX initiative forward is to fully understand the actual customer experience. The saying, “walk-a-mile in their shoes” could not be more apropos. One of the best ways to begin to capture the customer experience is with a journey mapping exercise. This process helps you understand what it is like for your customer to interact with your business. The good, the bad, and the ugly of your customers’ experience becomes apparent through this exercise. Once you have the map, you can begin to prioritize your next steps.
Experience Impacts Loyalty
How a customer engages with your organization in order to do business with you is known as your service model. It consists of various touch points that set the tone for overall customer satisfaction, trust and loyalty. These touch points include interactions with marketing, sales, service, operations, product, finance, and so on–from transactions via phone, meetings with account teams, receipt and payment of invoices, to using the website and social media channels. Satisfaction at each of these touch points should be measured and managed because each one influences loyalty–positive sentiment, purchases, references, etc. If the service model meets your customers’ needs and expectations, they will be loyal and become brand advocates, possibly bringing in new business for you.
Capture Critical Touch Points
In-depth interviews and focus groups are two of the best ways to begin collecting customer touch point and experience information. These types of conversations make it possible to identify and understand all the stages your customers experience across the life cycle, and from these conversations you can learn about the specific contact points customers have when they do business with you. The objective of this step is to define the broad stages (such as purchase, delivery, deployment, service) and their associated contact points (trouble tickets, invoices, contracts, etc.). It shouldn’t be surprising if you end up with a complex map that includes a large number of stages with a multitude of contacts.
Once you have the touch points mapped, the next step is to understand the following attributes for each touch point: frequency, value in the experience, impact on loyalty, and level of satisfaction. Transactional and intercept surveys can help with capturing this information. This level of information will help you associate touch points with loyalty and business impact, enabling the development of a CX strategy that will create a predictable, consistent and positive experience and prioritize to your action plan.