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In today’s world of the ever-demanding and empowered customer, organizations need to adapt quickly to stay relevant. As a result, the customer experience is paramount, and a key differentiator.
No longer can the customer experience be an afterthought. To succeed, the customer experience has to be at the epicenter of a brand’s DNA.
This page will provide a foundation for understanding the true definition of the modern customer experience, its evolution and impact on the dynamics of customer acquisition, retention and financial performance.
Moreover, this guide will serve as a playbook to set brand leaders on the right track to succeed on this new competitive playing field. From developing your internal game plan to designing your program and selecting the right customer experience solution, it’s all here.
The customer experience is your competitive advantage, and this definitive guide will provide you with the tools to construct a winning CX strategy.
"In an age of exceptionally high consumer expectations, customer experience has emerged as the new competitive battlefield."
(a) The sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship lifecycle and
(b) The customer’s feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand over the course of those interactions.
THE PRINCIPAL OF CX JOURNEYS AND A CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBER
The perception that customers have of their interactions with an organization.
CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIR OF THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION
To fully commit to the improvement of customer experience, decision-makers need to genuinely
believe that the effort is worth their while.
Here are some of the main reasons why the customer experience can’t be ignored and is a key differentiator.
Whether you are looking for a competitive advantage, a reduced churn rate or an increase in loyalty or revenue,
focusing on the customer experience will pave the road to achieving those goals.
Gartner identified that 64% of people think that customer experience is more important than price in their choice of brand.
Oracle reported that multichannel integration - a key component of a great customer experience - has the ability to increase profitability by 25%.
According to Econsultancy 89% of consumers said a great customer experience is a key factor in brand loyalty.
According to Gartner 89% of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of the customer experience by 2016.
Harris Interactive found that 86% of consumers stop interacting with and buying from businesses if they have a single bad customer experience.
Forbes found that 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience yet only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations.
"One of the problems is that the people who focus on customer experience don't talk in the langugage used by senior management."
Of all the positions in the C-suite, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is arguably the most eager to strengthen the customer experience. After all, a stellar customer experience is essential to the marketing goals of outreach, engagement, retention and loyalty. The Digital Clarity Group pointed out that the CMO will bring a strong creative and strategic vision to the table, generating more momentum for the initiative overall.With such vested interest in customer experience, marketing leaders will help generate enthusiasm and get a program off the ground. Of all C-level positions, the CMO also will be the most attuned to customer experience trends, and will be a key C-suite influencer.
of customers who rated their experience as very good were likely to repurchase from that company compared to only 9% of customers who rated their experience as very poor.
Source: Temkin Group
The VP of sales is constantly conversing with customers and therefore has significant clout over the customer experience. Ultimately responsible for increasing sales growth and profit, the VP of sales will be vital for a successful implementation of a customer experience program. Demonstrating how the customer experience will help them reach their sales targets is key.
This means that the customer experience will be critical to future sales and continue to have a bigger and bigger impact on the sales cycle.
of consumers cite customer experience as a critical loyalty builder.
In a digital world, customer-centricity is powered by technology, and executive leadership is vital to ensure that any investments and strategic efforts are aligned with the company’s existing IT profile. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) is the go-to resource on this front.
Research from the Digital Clarity Group recently cited the heavy influence of the CIO in the customer experience decision-making process. Yet one of the biggest challenges to any customer experience initiative is IT leadership. This is because customer experience programs typically take place outside of their normal wheelhouse and require them to go beyond their predefined roadmap.
Getting input and walking the CIO through the process will be critical to setting your customer experience projects up for success. Also, it is important to demonstrate how a customer experience program is viable from an IT standpoint, accounting for factors like compatibility, operational cost and upgrades. Customer experience programs require IT support, and getting the CIO onside will be critical to getting your initiatives off the ground.
While Chief Financial Officers (CFO) may understand the clamor surrounding a new customer experience initiative, they won’t be likely to lay down the necessary funding unless they can link the strategy to bottom-line results. To convince the CFO that investing in a customer-centric program is a smart financial move, you need to emphasize just how important customer experience is to consumers.
Making a strong point for the business benefits of customer experience will allow financial leaders to connect the dots to ROI and long-term growth.
"Control over the customer experience tends to rest at the top with the CEO."
No other C-level leader has the high-level strategic insight of the CEO, and in an age when customer experience is a brand defining factor, the involvement of this decision-maker is pivotal.
In fact, Genesys noted that the most profitable customer experience programs are more likely to be initiated by this central executive position, arguing that such responsibility rests largely on the shoulders of the CEO. As always, the significance of CEO support cannot be denied considering typical C-suite dynamics, as this leader typically has the final say. Once an initiative gets off the ground, however, it’s important that the CEO remains closely involved as the success of a customer experience program will depend on the enthusiasm of this leader.
These individuals, known as CX champions, are instrumental in introducing a customer experience program to the workforce and getting a program off the ground. They are the leaders in a grassroots approach to change, and can spark widespread interest and action throughout the organization.
Who are the employees that are fit to step up and fill the position of customer experience champion? The key is to start from the bottom and look for influencers on the front lines - from sales to the contact center to operations.
CX champions are the key players that bring customer-centric change to the organization. But, without a clear set of objectives and checkpoints to follow, a CX program won’t make much of a difference, even with a driven and talented team leading the way. This is why CX champions need to build a strong business case within their organization, allowing them to not only garner support from stakeholders, but also to define their mission in a precise manner.
In addition to setting tangible goals, the team should map out an action plan that clarifies the role of each CX champion. This will include specific projects in certain departments, skills to be cultivated within the workforce and meetings that will coordinate efforts across multiple teams.
Between a strong set of objectives and clear steps that move the program forward, C-level leaders will develop a sense of confidence in their CX team and set the gears in motion.
“A coordinated approach to customer experience management - and one that is built from the ground up - is more likely to take root.”
A core aspect of any customer experience program is to collect the intentions, experiences and expectations of your customers. Today there is a plethora of ways to engage customers, from tracking studies to persistent feedback buttons to social media.
But too often, similar expectations are placed on these engagement methods, even though the nature of the information collected can vary enormously. Many times the insights gathered are positioned as comparable, and businesses awkwardly apply the same analytic tools and reporting structures on information that is wholly divergent.
Therefore, it is important, before creating your customer experience program, to understand the different types of engagement methods, which are the most appropriate for your situation and needs.
Firstly, let’s start with random active solicitation which collects feedback by inviting a random portion of your website customers on arrival to the website to take a survey at the end of their visit. This provides a representative sample which creates internal alignment and helps drive strategic decisions.
Alternatively, a passive persistent approach collects individual feedback where customers can click a button to leave their feedback, and is commonly referred to as a Comment Card. iperceptions research shows that customers who leave feedback using a passive persistent approach are more likely to leave negative feedback.
The graphs below demonstrate this negative skew of results and relatively low participation rates using passive persistent engagement compared to active random solicitation.
Therefore, passive persistent approaches are more of a remediation tool that can help fix broken links and give customers an outlet to vent.
The final engagement method is targeted engagement which collects feedback by showing a survey invite to a specific audience based on behavioral criteria such as number of pages viewed or time on site. It is typically used to optimize sections of a website or a particular site feature. As an example, by triggering a survey to collect feedback from customers who visited only the support section of your site, you can understand how effectively your online support tools are meeting customers’ needs and how you can optimize those resources.
It is important to understand that not all engagement methods are equal. The method or methods you choose to adopt as part of your customer experience program will ultimately impact the type of data you collect (representative to individual) and how it can be used (strategic to tactical).
For example, if you visited your bank’s website and a few days later received an email asking for feedback about your experience, in most instances, your ability to remember the experience would probably not be adequate to answer many of the questions within the survey. Questions such as how the website’s navigation and content affected your ability to accomplish your tasks would be especially difficult to answer this long after the fact.
This is an example of why it is essential to engage and collect feedback about the customer experience in the moment of truth - the most critical time in their browsing/shopping experience.
If the bank had engaged the customer immediately following the experience, it would have captured insights that more accurately defined the true experience and intentions.
Therefore, it is essential that your CX program does not simply include customer feedback, but feedback captured in the moment of truth.
Asking your customers for feedback is an extension of your brand. This means it is essential to customize your research to match your brand; from survey invitations to thank-you pages, ensure your company is front and center.
Typically, customers are more willing to open up to people they know and trust. Also, this can help ensure your potential respondents that this study is being conducted by you, and that their responses are being sent directly to your company for your review.
Another aspect to the respondent experience is to be honest and transparent and never interrupt. That’s why you should provide customers with a clear and easy way to opt out, and when they don’t want to provide feedback you don’t immediately ask them again. Therefore, whether customers participate or not, this approach builds integrity for the brand and tells all your customers that their opinion matters, whether or not they have the time to provide it.
As you start to lay the ground work for building your customer experience program, ensure it is not detached from your website, but is instead an extension of your brand that engages your customers in an honest and transparent way.
The customer experience is mission critical today and can’t be ignored. As you start to make the first steps toward creating a customer experience program, remember that not all engagement methods are created equal, capturing feedback in the moment of truth is essential and the respondent experience matters.
One of the most hotly-debated questions when discussing customer experience measurement is, ‘what metrics are the best?’
To date, much of the learning regarding metrics is centered around what works best for a particular business and its objectives. One thing is for certain though - multiple, short, concise and intelligent conversations with customers are the key to successful customer experience analytics. Long gone are the days of lengthy, one size fits all, single surveys as a means of collecting customer feedback.
While there is an infinite number of metrics that can be used as part of a customer experience program, there are a few key metrics that should be leveraged to get any program off the ground.
Four of the most widely leveraged and useful customer experience metrics are Satisfaction, Net Promoter® Score, Customer Intent, and Task Completion. Here we will walk through the different ways these metrics can be implemented successfully.
Satisfaction is an essential metric in measuring and managing the customer experience over time. Satisfaction is used to provide a baseline measurement of performance, identify change, and understand key drivers to set and align priorities at an organizational level.
There are many questions and groups of questions that you can ask to gauge customer satisfaction. One of the most widely used ways to measure customer satisfaction with an overall experience questions.
Overall experience is the ideal dependent variable for multiple regression analysis of attributes of the experience that can be used to determine independent drivers of satisfaction.
While there are many opinions about what scales to use for digital collection, all fiercely held, a 0 - 10 point numeric scale with six offset labels is a good place to start for collecting feedback on satisfaction. In addition to the offset of the labels, which reduces text and numeric bias, the extreme positive point, labeled ‘Outstanding’, is set apart to reduce the positive skew associated with scales that use 9 or more points.
iperceptions research has shown that this scale produces results with closer to normal distribution than scales using 9 to 11 points with end point labels and scales that use direct 1 to 1 labels. Given that one of the principal assumptions of most statistical analysis is normal distribution of data, statistical results from using this scale produce more reliable and more reproducible results.
Net Promoter Score (NPS) provides a read on how your customers feel about your company. It is a customer loyalty metric developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company and was introduced by Reichheld in his 2003 Harvard Business Review article “One Number You Need to Grow”.
One of the biggest advantages of the NPS is its simplicity, while still being relevant to all levels and functions of an organization. Also, it has been shown to be a strong leading indicator of overall company performance.
If you need a starting point, a single metric to lead analytic adoption throughout your organization, consider the NPS.
The Net Promoter Score is derived from asking the following question – >
The most accepted method for collecting NPS is using a 0-10 point scale with end point labels. To calculate your NPS, respondents are grouped into the following categories:
Then by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters you arrive at your Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every respondent is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every respondent is a Promoter).
NPS is not without its limitations and critics, but it remains a useful and simple metric that can be easily implemented.
An example of an NPS question using a 0-10 point scale with end point labels.
Digital touch points are the most measurable sales and service channels. Huge amounts of data already exist revealing what customers are doing on desktops, mobile and tablet devices. Behavioral web analytics is a well-recognized form of measuring performance and provides valuable decision support to help optimize online channel offerings.
However, behavioral metrics like ‘pages visited,’ ‘time on site’ and ‘conversion rate’ provide little insight into the hearts and minds of customers. What’s missing is the insight gained by listening to actual customers, as they can provide the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Uniquely, customers can provide feedback in the context of their intentions; they can also let you know whether or not they could complete their desired tasks.
The introduction of ‘Intent’ and ‘Task Completion’ as key customer experience metrics, represents a ground shift in satisfaction research, away from periodic and expert analysis of customer satisfaction studies and toward the ongoing data-driven world of digital analytics.
Avinash Kaushik brought attention to the need for these metrics within digital analytics in his 2007 blog post, The Three Greatest Survey Questions Ever. In 2008, iperceptions responded to Avinash’s challenge to provide a simple and easy-to-deploy website survey solution for web analytics practitioners called 4Q.
For collecting Customer Intent, consider using a ‘Purpose of visit’ (PoV) question ->
A single select format is preferred for the response. Avoid the use of multiple select options for the response, as this defeats clear segmentation and complicates analysis with no real benefit.
The main goal is to label customer behavior with their stated intent exposing the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ of behavioral web analytics. The number of possible responses for a ‘single select’ question is ideally 6 or less. More choices require too much effort by the respondent and can make it difficult for them to clearly identify and easily choose the appropriate answer.
Example of a Purpose of Visit question that we use on the iperceptions.com website.
For the metric ‘Task Completion’, typically a binary response of Yes or No is used. There are some that advocate the use of a ‘Partially’ option as well. But this tends to muddy the waters and introduces additional subjectivity with no increased insight. Labeling customer behavior with ‘Failed Task Completion’ provides a strong signal within the behavioral data that allows web analysts to easily isolate and identify issues that need to be addressed.
It is only when the results move to inform decisions and start being used to drive other marketing technologies that metrics can improve the customer experience, and ultimately increase loyalty and retention. Today, there are countless technologies promising to improve the customer experience. But too often these technologies don’t have the customer’s perspective in mind. That’s why it is imperative to inject your customer experience metrics directly into your marketing technologies.
Today, companies collect an enormous amount of data and analyze it using an array of reporting tools. These range from web analytics to session replay to AB testing solutions, with each being populated with clickstream data. However, behavioral data has a blind spot. It is often missing context, and in the absence of this context, we overlay our own opinions, experiences and perspectives to make sense of it all. With such a broad range of potential interpretations, it is essential to enhance behavioral data with the ‘why behind the what’ using the insights gathered from your customer experience program.
The injection of customer experience metrics into observed behavioral data opens up a range of additional profiling and segmentation capabilities within existing reporting tools. These include segmenting based on ‘intent’, ‘relationship to the company’, ‘task completion’, as well as a wealth of demographic information like ‘gender’, ‘age’, and ‘household income’, to name a few. This exponentially increases the capabilities of these reporting tools to find actionable insights. For example, at iperceptions, we have clients inject CX metrics directly into their web analytics platforms to compare satisfaction rates and the likelihood to recommend by customer segments to evaluate landing pages, exit pages, search keywords, traffic sources and campaigns.
Also we have clients that use CX metrics to segment session recordings to focus just on the customers who rated the site experience as poor. This allows you to focus on customers that had a poor experience – and then with your session replay tool, replay the sessions, to better understand what the customer went through that led to that poor experience.
According to Chiefmartec.com, Backbone Platforms are software that every marketer needs — a CRM, a core web content/experience system and marketing automation (i.e., campaigns and customer journey management).
Injecting customer experience into backbone marketing platforms allow the customer’s voice to be a main component of your marketing systems.
Source: ChiefMarTec.com - Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2015)
For example, integrating customer feedback with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions can allow you to identify immediate opportunities and improve response times to increase conversion.
By injecting results from your CX program into your backbone platforms automated responses can be immediately emailed to a certain distribution list, while follow-up actions can be tracked and resolved using the systems already in place within the organization.
Asking for feedback is an extension of your brand. Your customer experience solution should allow you to customize research to match your brand, from survey invitations to thank-you pages, ensuring your brand is front and center during the feedback experience.
In today’s multi-screen world, it’s important to collect customer feedback across devices. Whether it is on a desktop, tablet, mobile or in-app, your customer experience solution should ensure the survey is functional on all your customers’ unique devices.
To get the most out of your research, avoid delays and technical roadblocks, you should be guided by a team of experts that can do all the heavy lifting for you. Your customer experience solution should provide the expertise, from survey design to implementation to analysis and recommendations, to help you address your business objectives and improve the customer experience.
Feedback needs to address business objectives. Your customer experience solution needs to adapt to your business needs. From improving site usability to increasing marketing effectiveness to boosting conversion rates, your customer experience solution must be flexible to evolve alongside your changing business objectives.
The more intuitive the respondent experience, the more likely customers will leave their feedback. Your customer experience solution should provide a state-of-the-art collection interface that makes it easy for customers to leave feedback.
Marketers need speed and agility, particularly when it comes to understanding their customers. Your customer experience solution should provide the agility and flexibility to launch and manage multiple projects without the need to consult your IT department.
Today we live in an interconnected and digital world where data security and system availability is critical. Your customer experience should provide the highest security standard to protect your data and offer 24/7 monitoring.
This Request for Proposal (RFP) template will help you evaluate the various components of selecting a customer experience solution, align the key questions and concerns to meet your end goals and choose a long-term, results-oriented CX partner who understands your challenges and has a solution to solve them.
Companies like Apple and Disney have proven the power of a strong CX strategy, as well as the negative repercussions of a neglected one. This leaves brands with little choice but to commit to the improvement of their customer experience through strategy, technology and process. Only with the right customer experience solution can a brand truly understand the intentions and desires of their customers in the moment of truth, and then craft a winning strategy. iperceptions is here to bridge the tech gap that lies between you and your customer experience vision.