It’s a new year, which for many also brings a strong resolve to make significant improvements or achievements during the following 364 days — or in other words, New Year’s resolutions. The same can and should be true for your organization’s Customer Experience strategy.
The concept of “Customer Experience” is most commonly thought of as an important attribute that has some level of impact on a person’s relationship with a business. You’ve undoubtedly heard people patronize a business that goes above and beyond to satisfy customers, but rarely will the average person think of this “experience” as more than a conceptual idea.
In 2017, however, customer experience (CX) can be measured, rated, and translated into useful data that can better inform decision-making about how an organization is run. Or to simplify even further, CX can and should be treated like a science. CX also spans well beyond retail these days, being a useful component to organizations in the public sector, banking, healthcare, education, transportation, and more. And if you’re wondering why, there are literally plenty of reasons. For instance, companies that improve CX see a positive correlation with their bottom line. Public companies that improve CX lead to higher stock prices. Utility providers (who do not have to compete for business the same way retail does) with increased CX can see lower operating costs. And finally, there’s even evidence that an increase in CX for federal agency online services leads to higher trust with government overall.
If you’re a business leader, you’re likely very aware of this: 89% of companies are competing against rivals based on a better CX, according to Gartner. CX is now a competitive advantage, and so again, that means there is every reason to make 2017 the year you follow through with a set of resolutions to make your organization’s CX standout.
Here are five big suggestions to consider when creating your own list of CX resolutions:
Resolve to measure (and measure everything)
Instructing all of your employees to smile brightly and wish everyone a great day isn’t a CX strategy, it’s just common sense. A real CX strategy requires constant, continuous measurement of your customers’ experience during their entire journey. And so our first resolution, unsurprisingly, is to resolve to measure — and measure everything. Every. Thing.
From the time a consumer (or patient, citizen, client — whatever title is applicable) decides to engage with your organization to when they walk out the door (virtual or otherwise), you must be measuring. If they engage with you on a mobile device, measure it. If they visit your website to do research, measure it. If they walk into your store or call your customer service hotline, you need to measure it!
And in this case, measuring can come in several ways, such as A/B testing, tracking online behaviors, providing customer surveys, recording online customer sessions, and managing ratings and reviews.
Get beyond conversion metrics
As stated in the new 2016 ForeSee Experience Index (FXI), conversion metrics are outdated and do not provide the kinds of data that can inform your decision-making while running an organization. Instead, you should be far more interested in contribution, or more specifically the contribution each portion of the customer journey (mobile app, website, in-store) has on obtaining a successful purchase or accomplishing a task.
So for example, knowing that your hospital website’s vast library of information about illnesses and treatments is the main reason a patient chooses them over other facilities would be extremely valuable when allocating resources for improvements. (It would also lead to less head scratching when and if you decided to renovate the waiting room that isn’t any more full than it was before.) Another example might be a retailer deciding not to shutter its outdated, feature-hobbled mobile app (because it looks embarrassing and doesn’t seem worth the cost to update) after learning that 76% of millennials and 65% of GenXers use their mobile phones while inside a store.
The point is, conversion data isn’t everything. CX data can help provide a more complete picture of your customer/patient/citizens’ journey (contribution), which in turn can lead to better conversion.
Benchmark against best-in-class
Even those who have a firm grasp on the importance of customer experience might not be able to achieve the full potential of success by simply examining their own operations. Sometimes, there’s just no substitute for looking at what the other guy is doing, and comparing it with your own efforts. That’s a long-winded way of defining a benchmark.
In 2017, you should resolve to do more benchmarking. Retailers can find out how their cart abandonment rates stack up against others in the same retail sector. Insurance providers can benchmark task accomplishment with other insurers. And benchmarking doesn’t have to be restricted to making comparisons with direct competitors. Task accomplishment benchmarks are available across many other industries (utilities, telecoms, banking, etc.), and there may be some spill over into benchmarks from those industries that are relevant to yours.
Make new friends
So you’re committed to measuring, deadset on striving for contribution over conversion, and regularly benchmarking your organization against others. What’s left, you ask? Well, friends, of course.
In this case, “friends” would be defined as pulling in co-workers from other departments of your organization into your CX strategy meetings to analyze and act on CX insights. Or better yet, get them to participate in refining and improving the overall CX measurement process.
One instance where this might be valuable would be if your organization has entire departments devoted to a single channel (such as mobile or the website). Since you know that the customer journey is now more complex in 2017 than it was in 2007, it would be helpful to have the mobile team working with the web experience team to better determine contribution.
Final thought on this resolution: If the customer journey intersects with another department within your organization, invite them to the table.
Socialize your CX data
What’s that? Friending CX buddies isn’t nearly as easy as friending on Facebook? It’s no wonder, as CX data can be difficult to comprehend and interpret for the first time. However, it’s an extremely valuable practice to get in the habit of socializing your CX data and insights throughout your organization. (Plus, more friends.)
Our suggestions for accomplishing this are to present that CX data to tell a powerful story with it that is short and visual. Additionally, formalize meetings about CX insights and make them a regular occurrence. Make sure you’re discussing points raised by those from other departments, and give weight to their comments. So to recap, don’t tell Jesse from mobile experience development that “our lower mobile engagement is translating to a decrease to other-channel purchases.” Instead, make a powerpoint presentation: A slide showing frustrated millennials rolling their eyes next to bullet points of mobile engagement lowering and sales staying flat, followed by a slide with an animated gif of millennials smashing their PC screens alongside bullet points indicating that website sales are lower every time mobile engagement dipped over the last 9 months.
Managing and improving your organization’s CX is no small task, but doing so can prove very valuable. For those that are serious about making CX standout, make sure you don’t forget these five CX resolutions:
- Resolve to measure (everything)
- Go beyond conversion
- Benchmark against others
- Make new friends
- Socialize your CX data