CX Obsessed!

Today’s market is more crowded than ever. Consumers are distracted. Hundreds of organisations just like yours are vying for their attention, and the only way to win is to stand out from the noise with an experience that cannot be ignored. As technology evolves, it is rapidly pushing the bar higher for more intuitive user interactions and transcendent usability. Achieving a Customer Experience (CX) that exceeds the customers’ expectations is becoming increasingly challenging. CX is about showing up for the customer when and where they need you, with ease and consistency. It’s about making sure every interaction with the company is memorable and meaningful. It’s not transactional – it’s relational. Your challenge is to win at every interaction the customer has with your organisation.

In the attention economy, gaining anything less than a holistic overview of how a customer’s attention moves is a missed opportunity for those trying to catch it. Every human action is a transaction. Choosing to direct attention to one thing means that you’re simultaneously choosing not to “pay” attention to something else. Conversion is a prime example. Directing customers’ attention in a way that nudges them through the customer journey is often done by best-guess efforts. We need to know which touchpoints generate attention that sticks and which moments of friction turn customers away. Understanding every aspect of the customer journey is crucial for turning that attention into profit.

When it comes to CX and satisfaction, the devil is in the details – and the details are in the data. Along the customer journey, attention is the ultimate commodity. According to McKinsey, data-driven organisations are 23 times more likely to acquire new customers and 2.6 times more likely to have a significantly higher return on investment than their competitors. A recent Deloitte survey, looking at the true value of customer experience, found that positive experiences drive customers to spend 140 percent more than negative experiences. Every moment of customer interaction is critical to success, and when customers don’t immediately see the benefit a product offers, they often don’t come back.

“Exceptional customer experiences are the only sustainable platform for competitive differentiation.”

– Kerry Bodine

The Customer is King

It’s not executives, software engineers, or marketing professionals who are deciding the future of business: it’s customers. The customer is going to be as right in 2050 as they were in 1950, and organisations need to know exactly how to respond to a consumer base who increasingly demands better experiences. An organisation that keeps its customers engaged and regularly checks in on their experience will find it much easier to remain profitable. Ease, speed, and accuracy are the 1-2-3 punch that will keep your customers loyal for the long haul.

The pace of technology innovation has accelerated and is empowering people. Your competitors are growing and gaining more accessibility to your customers, learning where they hang out, their likes and dislikes, and how to ease their pain points. Meanwhile, customers are now more self-empowered, educating themselves thoroughly before each buying decision, engaging your brand via whichever channel they deem fit, and expecting excellent, streamlined service. This has disarmed the product battlefield and opened up a new realm for you to conquer in order to win and keep customers: the customer experience. CX can be a transformational growth driver for your organisation – when you get it right. Data is the holy grail in catching consumer attention. In an economy full of product teams racing to grab customer attention, there is a massive opportunity in relying on data to uncover winning product features as well as major friction points.

“The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them – preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.”

– Richard Branson

Winning the Battle of Choice

Customers and employees expect more, complain more, are more willing to switch suppliers or employers – and readily share more about their experiences. The interactions that drive customer experience are the “defining moments”. These crucial moments can be positive, neutral, or negative. Only positive defining moments drive customer loyalty. Negative moments have devastating consequences: a single bad experience will deter at least half of customers (and more like 90%) from ever buying from you again.

Competition for customers is increasingly focused on providing the best possible experience. Branded, personalised moments at each and every point of customer engagement are what market leaders are seeking. In order to improve and sustain a great CX, the quicker you can get insights from your audiences, the better. Getting feedback in real-time instead of asking for surveys after the fact allows you to have the data you need to make adjustments quickly — sometimes immediately — to ensure your customer has an optimal experience. Contrast this with waiting for an individual to fill out a survey once they are all the way through a process, and you can imagine the possibilities!

“The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy.”

– Dharmesh Shah

Surveys are Out

Surveys that are given after a transaction have provided CX experts with useful data for decades. However, there is a big difference between the type of insights you get from those methods versus the insights you can gain in real-time. With more sophisticated data collection tools, as well as the ability to store and interpret large data sets, real-time customer experience metrics show us in quantifiable ways exactly what is happening. In this way, we no longer have to ask someone about their e-commerce experience, we can actually see in the data that it took a long time to process their transaction, or they had problems with their billing information. 

Real-time data collection uses beacon technology, sentiment analysis, web analytics, and more. You can measure the customer experience and identify pain points that an individual may not feel like articulating in a survey. You can also connect these measurements so you can see the entire customer journey as a whole. The ability to use data to better analyse your customer and their journey is imperative to creating the optimal CX and improving journey mapping. 

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.”

– Roy H. Williams

Get Prepared to Play the Right Game

According to the 2017 Gartner Customer Experience in Marketing Survey, 81% of marketing leaders responsible for customer experience (CX) say their companies will mostly or completely compete on the basis of CX by 2019. Yet only 22% said their CX efforts have exceeded customer expectations. CX is underperforming where it matters most — for customers. Gartner predicts that by 2023, brands that put in place user-level control of marketing data will reduce customer churn by 40% and increase lifetime value by 25%. The Gartner Customer Experience Pyramid is a framework for building effective experiences that lift satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy and start to chip away at the chasm between expectation and reality. The great thing about this model is that it shows how to respond to customers through five levels: Communication, Responsive, Commitment, Proactive, and Evolution.

Stage 1: Furnish information I can use

The journey to better loyalty, advocacy, and satisfaction begins with meeting customers’ basic needs. This stage and those that immediately follow are tactical, reactive, and focused on removing irritants that get in the way of better experiences and satisfaction.

Stage 2: Solve your problem when I ask

At this stage, the customer’s problem is the company’s problem (or that’s how the customer sees it). Moving beyond the foundational level means solving the organisation’s basic issue when the customer asks. 

Stage 3: Solve my needs when I ask

This stage means it’s time to address specific needs, wants, and requests. 

Stage 4: Provide what I need without me asking

Moving beyond resolving customer needs starts to enter the realm of aspirational customer service. It requires deeper knowledge and data about the customer and effective processes to execute the experiences. It is this type of CX that drives significant satisfaction and is quite difficult to execute.

Stage 5: Make me better, safer or more powerful

The top of the pyramid is reserved for exceptional CX practices that fundamentally redefine the customer experience and what customers can become as a result of using your product or service. Not just providing customers with superpowers, but making them feel like they have superpowers. This level might be as simple, and as complex, as dispatching a luxury self-driving vehicle to whisk a stranded customer to work at the push of a button — and delivering their newly serviced, washed, and waxed car to their driveway while they are at work.

As organisations move up the pyramid, they need to take steps to reduce risk, such as gathering appropriate customer data and even expanding their vision to include the entire customer journey.

“The way to a customer’s heart is much more than a loyalty program. Making customer evangelists is about creating experiences worth talking about.”

– Valeria Maltoni

Why Data (Not Only Design) Hits the Sweet Spot

The standout successful CX is about meeting needs on an individual level – a “segment of one” not “one-size-fits-all”. So, what does that look like in practice? What really differentiates organisations is their personalisation through data which allows them to build unique experiences that lead to increased engagement and better outcomes. With the success of products like the iPad and the iPhone, organisations have realised that a good CX is key for the bottom line.

Yet even with this determined focus on design, most digital experiences fall short of user expectations. Of the 700 million websites that exist, 72% fail to consistently engage people or drive conversions. Of the 1.6 million apps available, just 200 account for 70% of all usage, and three out of four apps aren’t even used beyond the initial download. So where did things go wrong? And how can we get them right? Surprisingly, the answer does not lie with design. It lies with data.

“The purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers.”

– Shiv Singh

Netflix and Chill?

Netflix is a great example of a company that pays attention to CX. Early on Netflix chose not to charge late fees, like Blockbuster did, in order to help build its subscription DVD business. Netflix soon put Blockbuster out of business, but also came under threat from other online video streaming businesses like Sling and Roku. Fortunately, Netflix was able to use its viewing analytics to create personalised content recommendations, and eventually create its own shows geared toward viewer interests, such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

For Netflix, CX was the price of entry, and the viewing data they gathered and analysed became the strategic advantage for the business. Because of their approach, we no longer order special TV/Movie packages anymore. Thanks to Netflix analytics, we have our viewing experience tailored to our preferences. This is one example of a new breed of data-driven customer experiences created by companies like Amazon, Pandora, Sephora, Nike, and Disney. Good user experience design has become table stakes. If you don’t do it well, don’t expect your name to be on the door. In fact, you won’t even be allowed in the car park in this hyper-competitive digital world. 

“A good design shows respect for your customer and you’re either respectful of their time or respectful of what it is that they desire, and so it makes it a very fundamental element to everything that you do.”

– Penny Wilson

3 Ingredients to Superior CX

Personalisation through data is the CX game-changer in the 21st century. Building unique experiences that lead to increased engagement and better outcomes for the customer and company is the game. However, there is a fine line between “helpful” and “annoying” in the digital world, and the price of getting your data-driven personalisation right may be the difference between a delighted customer and one who will never ever come back to your brand.

1. Segmentation: Behaviours are the Map

Are you someone who likes competition and rewards? Or are you motivated by helpful nudges from friends and family? Do you respond to text messages during work, or do you prefer to catch up on your personal messages in the evening, after work? Do you travel a lot? Do you have a “wearable” or are willing to wear one? These are the types of questions we need to be asking our customers. We can either ask them directly or infer answers from their interactions and behaviours. People are all different — but you wouldn’t know it by looking at most digital products. The majority of applications create a one-size-fits-all experience that fails to engage even a fifth of those who sign up. Today we have the ability to collect individual behavioural data from customers so that we can segment them more accurately and present them with experiences that speak to their unique preferences.

2. Relevance: Getting Context Right

In order to deliver relevant, impactful interactions at the right moment, we need to understand our customer’s context. Context is much more than simply time (when?) and location (where?). With richer data being collected from customers, context is now evolving to include situation (what am I doing?) and emotion (how am I feeling?). With this multifaceted model of context, we move closer to the ideal “segment of one” (a unique profile for each user at a given point in time). Context-aware applications like Google Now and Tempo AI (acquired by Salesforce) leverage a person’s calendar as a source of context. This means they know when someone may be busy, in a meeting, or enjoying downtime. This information is used by these applications to adjust their content and experience to fit the context-determined mindset of each individual customer. Most users are only willing to share their data if they perceive that they will get real benefits in return. More than 60% of consumers want real-time promotions, yet 67% don’t trust retailers with their data. This means we have an opportunity to do better.

3. Reward: Effort vs. Benefit

In order to get, you have to give. Unfortunately, most applications ask for too much and offer too little. It’s common for apps to have a long-winded sign-up process that asks you every question under the Sun. This is not a recipe for success. Applications like the UK’s Waze and Spotify are case studies in proper information gathering. They provide us with immediate benefits right after we download their apps. Waze improves your driving route in exchange for your location. Spotify gives you a personal DJ, tailored to your tastes, in exchange for rating the songs you’re listening to. In both of these cases, your effort seems minimal in comparison to the benefits you receive. Contrast this with the majority of digital solutions that ask for a lot of data upfront before delivering any benefit. We have to “earn the right” to collect the type of information we need to appropriately segment customers. We have to win the “benefit versus effort” trade-off with our customers by providing them with immediate, tangible benefits and using the data being collected to further personalise their experiences.

“Building a good customer experience does not happen by accident. It happens by design.”

– Clare Muscutt

Personalised. People-based. Predictive.

A traditional CX design process might start with customer research followed by customer journey mapping, persona creation, storyboards, and a graphical mock-up or prototype of the design. The desired result of this process is a single beautiful design that attempts to deliver the best possible experience to meet the needs of all the different customer types. But the reality is that customers are not all the same and they don’t all want to interact with your organisation in the same way. By knowing something about each customer’s behaviours, motivations, and contexts, you have the opportunity to deliver a variation of the core experience that is best suited to that individual. 

In a data-driven CX approach, you start with the desired outcomes and behaviours you are trying to achieve with the target customer base. You then develop an initial behavioural segmentation model, and identify the optimal interaction strategies and CX for each segment. With analytics the system can adapt over time, so you can further optimise the design and tweak your touchpoints. It’s no longer good enough to know your customers. It’s what you do with that knowledge that really matters. Your customers are willing to engage and share their data if they perceive a real benefit for them. Are you ready to live up to your end of the bargain?

“The customer tells us how to stay in business, best that we listen.”

– Pamela Nelson

Moore's Law

Today we can apply Moore’s Law to Expectations – the idea that once people obtain a better experience, they never want to go back. If you have ever flown Business Class, you will know this feeling well. Contrast that with the overwhelming amount of choices that consumers face, and you’ve got the perfect mix for top and bottom line volatility. For every one product or service, there are many alternatives just one browser tab away. Oftentimes, the only thing setting a company apart is the experience, not the product. That’s why customer experience and retention — not just customer acquisition — has jumped to the top of the business priority list.

The bottom line is that an abundance of choice is making consumers less patient, compounded with the ease of finding better alternatives. People value one thing more than anything else: their own time! If they know they can save time elsewhere, they will. Fading customer satisfaction can turn into abandonment overnight, and staying relevant to each individual is the only way to stop it.

“Always keep in mind the old retail adage: Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.”

– Lauren Freedman

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