Let’s be honest. In the framework of large digital transformation projects, Customer Experience (CX) has often taken a backseat. Companies continue to rely on traditional approaches like looking at customer satisfaction metrics, such as CSAT or NPS. Too often those CX efforts are not directly connected to ROI in any meaningful way, and companies have struggled to prove value from them. Today this is changing, for a number of reasons:
- Strong tie to performance we can prove with data. CX efforts have tended to focus on improving customer experience, but have not connected the dots to a clear and measurable impact on the bottom line. The ability to collect more detailed and comprehensive data around CX, along with benchmarks from Forrester and the Tempkin Group, have changed the game in this regard, clearly linking improvements in CX measures with increased revenue performance.
- Innovation around mobile interactions. Mobile interactions result in a trove of data points per customer. This enables companies to be creative in improving customer experience using a data-driven approach. Mobile interactions can be analyzed and correlated with other sources so that we look at the entire customer journey rather than individual touchpoints.
- Competitive edge. Improving CX has become a point of competition and a source of differentiation, with companies investing in research programs that offer benchmarks for customer satisfaction, such as JD Power. At the same time, customer expectations are rising, and competitors are just a click (or download) away.
- Tools to track CX are improving. Journey analytics platforms enable you to connect data across channels and zoom in to reveal details of the customer experience that were previously hidden. High resolution data that illuminates customer journeys leads to actionable recommendations about how to improve customer experience and increase customer loyalty.
As a result of these advances, the past five years have seen demonstrable improvement in experience metrics. But with customer experience as an increasingly significant competitive driver, each upward tick, which reflects value across business areas, is increasingly precious.
Companies that drive hard to increase CX metrics in innovative ways are setting the new standard for many industries, from finance to transportation. Consider companies like Amazon that base their value proposition around customer experience. Ordering products from your couch, reviewing the ratings of the seller, using the one click buy option, to following the shipping status from the same app. For most, this experience is infinitely more satisfying than driving from store to store to find the best deal.
With the customer experience becoming as important as having a great product or service, the first fundamental step toward being effective in this new world is a change in perspective. Specifically, one needs to embrace the data-driven, journey view of customers over traditional touchpoint metrics. Take the customer’s point of view. When they contact your company, they embark on a journey that’s likely going to involve multiple interactions and multiple touchpoints.
Just recognizing the customer’s seamless view puts the company in more sympathetic alignment. It makes it possible to surface the pain points that happen when the customer hops between channels. Armed with that perspective, you can then look to the data to understand what improvements to the journey will offer the best ROI. Data can be used to refine the customer interaction in real-time, nudging it to desirable outcomes. And, as changes are made, data makes it possible to track the impact on customer experience and make further enhancements.
You still need to know whether an individual call or web interaction went well. Touchpoints are still important and need to be optimized, but the addition of longitudinal metrics let you look across those touchpoints to understand how they fit together and impact overall customer outcomes. Of course everyone wants to make customers happier, but this is also about managing the cost of those journeys to your operations.
Taking this data-driven, journey-centric, view also adds teeth to the analysis and measurement of CX. Traditionally, satisfaction programs are driven by anecdotal information, or by survey results from the 2% of customers that actually take them. Survey results often do not take into account the entire journey, over time, that led to the result. By looking at all events prior to the survey result, you are then able to find the customers that had similar experiences, but simply opted out of the survey. These customers also had a poor experience and are ripe for proactive treatment.
Improving customer journeys creates the best possible outcome: a win-win. Customers win because they’re happier, and companies win because a great customer experience drives loyalty which in turn drives retention, keeping those hard-won customers in your fold. The icing on the cake comes via reducing costs as you find creative ways to increase customer satisfaction in digital channels while reserving higher cost channels for the most high-value and effective interactions, again, creating a great experience that drives loyalty and retention. It’s a fruitful circle only realized when taking the entire customer journey into context when analyzing and designing CX programs.