3 considerations that will stand your customer experience strategy apart

Gary Howes

February 24, 2017

Tuesday saw a number of the leading cross-industry customer experience professionals gather at the CX Conference in London to share their insights on a vibrant and ever-critical element of modern business practice. Maru/edr have identified the key messages to be taken from the event.

There’s been an awful lot said about where 2017 will take Customer Experience; that customer experience has never been hotter than it is right now; that everyone from the CEO down should have the letters C and X tattooed on the inside of their eyelids – living and breathing the customer’s need.

In fact, when Econsultancy conducted a survey into digital marketing they asked: “over the next five years, what is the primary way your organisation will seek to differentiate itself from competitors”. 41% of B2B and 47% of B2C companies came back and said customer experience was it.

So it’s been acknowledged that customer experience is important. Great. Fantastic. But when you stop to consider it, the individual facets of customer experience are so broad that it can be a little daunting to try and imagine what providing a good one actually entails – and what ROI you can expect to get from it.

Fortunately, the thought leaders and cross-industry experts gathered together for the Customer Experience Conference on Tuesday were on hand to offer a number of considerations every CX professional should be bearing in mind.

Customer Experience Goes Hand-In-Hand With Employee Engagement Strategy

Customer Experience Needs To Be Part of the Strategic Narrative

The CEO should be a company’s chief CX champion but to get buy-in from Board level it needs to be within the interest of the business to be customer-centric and to measure customer experience. Unfortunately – despite the general assumption – it isn’t always possible to link NPS immediately to revenue.

It is the onus of the CX professional to educate within the company that CX can positively impact bottom line revenue in a broader – and most likely longer-term – sense; that the effects might not be seen as a direct outcome of CX improvement but can be tracked back to it as a solid foundation.

There are several outcomes that you can use to market CX as integral to the strategic narrative including:

i. Improving customer retention

ii. Improving customer satisfaction

iii. Increasing cross-selling and up-selling  

Customer Experience Goes Hand-In-Hand With Employee Engagement Strategy

In 2016, Tempkin published a report that found companies with stronger financial performances and better customer experience have employees who are considerably more engaged than their peers – as much as 1.5 times as many.

That sentiment was matched at the conference as industry experts continually highlighted the importance of an engaged employee base to overall customer experience, citing the need for every single employee to contribute to the overall CX strategy or risk the entire operation falling like a house of cards.

Maru/edr client, John Lewis, is famous within business circles for the way it listens to – and treats – its employees. Offering a standardised bonus pay-out from chairman to check out and a bottom-up employee feedback system including a staff council and weekly magazine, the retailer has become a leading light in employee engagement on the UK high-street.

Surely it can’t be a coincidence that they regularly score highly in our retail benchmark reports?

Extract from Maru/edr eRetail Benchmark 2016/17

Customer Experience Is Twofold – Listening To Both The Positive And Negative Aspects Of Your Service And Continually Striving To Innovate

Another important message from the conference was understanding the fluidity of customer experience as the expectations of the customer shift.

Always-on and real-time tracking – for example – is able to address customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction promptly, enabling quick wins that address friction. But Walker’s 2020 report predicts that soon enough, even immediate resolution will not be enough – with customers expecting a company to proactively address their present and impending needs.

The future of customer experience will be about adapting to the touch points and interactions in line with innovations coming out of the Boardroom, the employee base and your customers themselves. Don’t neglect this valuable population who use your products and services – perhaps on a daily basis. What do they think could add value to their experience? Beyond mere suggestions, can your customers co-create, concept test or play a role in your Design Thinking?

The Tools You’ll Need For Your Arsenal

Voice of the Customer can facilitate always-on tracking of your customer interactions, while Panels and Communities are the platforms to test concepts and co-create ideas. But don’t just stop at customers – involving employees through Voice of the Employee feedback mechanisms as well as innovative forums can boost engagement while drawing on a valuable company resource.

Embrace the challenge. Econsultancy stats also state that Customer Experience is the single most exciting opportunity companies are currently facing – overhauling long-term industry golden child, content marketing. Now is the time to listen to what your customers are saying… and act!