As we move further into a new era of customer experience (CX), business leaders must consider how a rapidly shifting landscape continues to influence and reshape the way they sell their products and services. It’s no longer acceptable to treat CX like an afterthought or just another piece of the digital transformation (DX) puzzle. It’s true that CX should be a part of any well-rounded DX strategy, but it plays such a pivotal role in a company’s success that it requires its own strategic plan within the broader DX framework.
Consider that customers who have a positive experience with a company tend to spend more with that brand. The 2020 Forrester Analytics Customer Experience Index Online Survey found that when brands deliver a high-quality experience by communicating clearly, customers are 270% more likely to spend more with them. In order to provide high-quality experiences, executives should begin taking steps to future-proof their CX strategies. Here are three key actions that can help.
Leverage customer data
Data and analytics are thrown around so often in the context of CX initiatives that it’s easy to think of them as buzzwords instead of usable insights, but how many organizations are actually using this information? Research from HubSpot found that 42% of companies don’t even bother to survey their customers or collect feedback at all. That may be fair, as surveys are not perfect indicators of customer demand and expectations, but useful data reaches well beyond simple customer surveys. As McKinsey notes, “Those with an eye toward the future are boosting their data and analytics capabilities and harnessing predictive insights to connect more closely with their customers, anticipate behaviors, and identify CX issues and opportunities in real time.” We’ve outlined a few ways artificial intelligence (AI) can help with this.
Invest in key CX areas
As with any worthwhile endeavor, CX requires continuous investment. Forrester has noted that the largest CX expenses are training, technology purchases, and professional services. Just how large? That one is a bit tricky, as the cost of CX can vary greatly, depending on the size of the business and the desired outcomes. In 2018, Forrester found that organizations typically spend between $200,000 and $2 million for website projects from experience design providers, and for mobile apps, that spend gap narrows to between $500,000 and $1 million. Before you cringe at those numbers, consider the value of a well-planned and well-executed CX strategy. According to the previously mentioned Forrester survey, customers are more than twice as likely to stay with a company that is equipped to solve their problems quickly.
One surefire way to help solve problems quickly is to provide CX training for all of your employees, not just those who are customer-facing. Allocate resources to training just like you would with any other ongoing, business-wide initiative.
Don’t have that kind of budget? Begin taking smaller steps toward providing better CX with simple solutions like live chat. A HubSpot survey revealed that 94% of companies that invested in live chat were better at helping their customers, yet 76% of companies don’t do it, leaving money on the table and potentially losing customers along the way.
Prove the ROI of your CX
No CX strategy is complete without a plan for tracking ROI. Not surprisingly, this is often the part of the plan that gets people nervous, but it’s also required to prove that CX efforts are paying off. “To drive excellence in customer experience, it’s important to measure service as the customer does. For example, the customer is more interested in having an item delivered on the requested day and time than having it shipped on time. So, the first step is to define and measure your success using the same metrics as your customer does,” commented Beth Coppinger, Senior Director Analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice in a recent release. Coppinger also noted that, “Supply chain leaders spend a lot of time working to understand and improve their internal operational metrics, but they rarely take the time to understand their impact on the customer. That’s why it’s important to introduce customer experience metrics into the supply chain scorecard.”
A Gartner survey, which focused on customer experience leaders, found that more than 60% said that their most important priority was to develop customer experience metrics and integrate them across all business units. But leaders must also understand that CX should not be measured using the same traditional methods as other areas of the business. As Forrester notes, ROI models “should be useful, not perfect,” adding that leaders should build models that are not based on assumptions, but instead choose useful metrics that can withstand executive scrutiny, such as increases in customer satisfaction and reduction in customer churn.
Customer demands and expectations are always changing and business leaders must make CX a priority if they want to truly thrive. While initial investment in this crucial area isn’t cheap, it’s a necessary expense that can help future-proof the business, and can be strategically tied to ROI by tracking metrics that are aligned with the overarching business goals.