Last week, I had the pleasure of attending NGCX, The Next Gen Customer Experience Conference. NGCX brought together over 300 industry executives to discuss customer experience design, culture and innovation in an intimate and interactive environment. The organizers were true to their promise that you will not just be sitting at a table listening to people talk at you for three days. The days were filled with opportunities to exchange and learn from peers.
Below I highlight my four takeaways from attending NGCX.
A customer-centric roadmap
Dexter Johnson, Head of Enterprise Customer Experience at Farmers Insurance, kicked off NGCX by providing tips and tricks on how to navigate the CX improvement journey. Firstly, he looked at how you need to assess where you are in the journey of improving the customer experience. Improving the customer experience can reap enormous rewards from increased customer loyalty and revenue but as he mentioned, it is hard to delight your customers if you don’t have the basics right. Furthermore, CX improvement is not something you can do alone; you need to find internal allies and CX champions. One critical ally that Dexter identified was finance, and how it is important to include financial linkage from retention to cross-sell in your CX programs.
Dexter also looked at how culture and environment is what drives customer experience so you need to map out your culture, define the process and set goals. A key element to a successful CX roadmap is access to the voice of your customers. Thanks to the Voice of the Customer (VoC), Farmers Insurance was able to stop debating internally what is best for the customer. With VoC data they could quickly see the path to resolution and improvement directly from those that matter most, their customers.
As Dexter’s presentation came to an end he mentioned that CX professionals need to commit to the journey once it is set. Becoming a customer-centric organization doesn’t happen overnight. There is rigorous planning, continuous tracking and constant communication. The organizations that stick to the journey create successful CX programs that drive results.
A customer-centric culture
A common theme during NGCX was the importance of creating a customer-centric culture. Janet Song, SVP Member Services at Dollar Shave Club, discussed the importance of empowering the frontline during her keynote Your People Are Your Front Line. Your Front Line Is Brand Strategy.
Janet explained how at Dollar Shave Club, the Member Services organization serves as the strategic, day-to-day front line of the brand. Dollar Shave Club recognizes that their front line brand ambassadors have a direct impact on the brand experience and have invested in ensuring that the member services organizations are empowered, motivated and driven. Janet shared lots of great examples on how to empower the front line and as a result of their initiatives had zero turnover in 2015 for front line employees.
The voice of the customer plays a critical role in creating a customer-centric culture that empowers the entire organization. Janet Song recommended “Arm your team with VOC data, CX metrics and customer insight. Invest in robust reporting tools and deploy them.”
A key to creating differentiated customer experiences is surprising and delighting your customers. Bill Linehan, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer at Red Lion Hotels Corporation, examined this during his keynote Creating A Differentiated And Relevant Customer Experience Enabled By Emergent Technology.
At Red Lion Hotels, Bill looked at how they are reinventing the concept of loyalty. With an average of 29 loyalty programs per household, how do you drive loyalty in today’s market where loyalty programs are a commodity? Red Lion Hotels solution was to focus on the customer experience and provide a great customer service as this triggers the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved.
Image from @cris_salamanc
To achieve this, Red Lion Hotels needed technology that would provide a holistic view of their customer. REV PAK, Red Lion Hotels’ central guest management system, was the solution and it provides a holistic view of the customer by integrating all systems across touch-points into a single platform. This central management system empowers the organization to put the customer at the center of their organization. Thanks to their guest management platform, Red Lion Hotels was able to differentiate themselves and create loyalty by surprising and delighting guests on each visit. As an example, with “whisper screens”, the front desk can knowingly recognize a guest and greet them with a personalized experience. On each stay Red Lion Hotels welcomes their guests with a surprise perk that is aligned to their interests. This helps set the stage for a memorable experience and satisfies the need for instant gratification.
Customer experience is the new marketing
Today’s reality is that in the age of the empowered customer, customer experience is the new marketing. This was the topic of Duff Anderson’s, SVP and Co-founder at iPerceptions, presentation where he looked at how new technologies are necessary to provide a differentiated customer experience. He shared how you can empower your organization to put the voice of the customer at the center of your organization. One of the ways iPerceptions is helping companies achieve this is through Active Recognition Technology (ART). Duff explained that with ART you can evolve your voice of the customer programs from decision support to real-time personalization. With ART you can leverage your VoC data to recognize visitors who are likely to have a negative experience and collect feedback to prioritize UX improvements. You can improve the effectiveness of your live chat systems, by recognizing the difference between a visitor who is on your site to purchase and a visitor on your site for support. Finally, he touched on how you can improve brand perception and optimize retargeting campaigns by showing the right ads to the right person by recognizing their intent.
If you missed the session or if you would like to learn more about how you can evolve your voice of the customer program from decision support to real-time recognition and personalization, schedule a meeting with Duff.
Customer experience is everyone’s job
At the end of the day, customer experience is one of the few things that you can control. It is everyone’s job, from marketing to the front line to operations. To succeed in the age of the customer, you need to ensure the voice of your customer is at the center of the organization.
NGCX was an exciting three days of learning, networking and knowledge sharing with those who are at the forefront of customer experience. I look forward to next year’s edition. In the meantime, to find out more about the conversations that took place at NGCX check out #NGCX on Twitter.
Image source: @customer_event